Two New York State departments filed an amendment on Wednesday that would allow medical marijuana businesses to provide hemp-derived compounds such as CBD to patients.

The measure, which was introduced by the Departments of Health and Agriculture and Markets, is designed to “enhance” the state’s medical cannabis program while also lowering manufacturing costs for licensed facilities. Patients would also reap the cost-savings benefits under the regulatory amendment.

“The Department remains committed to growing New York State’s Medical Marijuana Program responsibly, as evidenced by the work we have done to enhance the program since its launch nearly four years ago,” Health Department Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a press release. “This is yet another example that will help improve the program for patients and registered organizations.”

The proposal must first go through a 60-day public comment period, during which interested individuals would able to weigh in on the rule. The amendment was published in the New York State Register.

If approved, the measure would amend the state’s medical cannabis law stipulating that “[n]o synthetic marihuana additives nor any cannabinoid preparation not produced by a registered organization in an approved manufacturing facility shall be used in the production of any medical marihuana product.”

A new section would continue, “provided, however, that a registered organization may use hemp, or extracts derived from hemp, grown and processed under the authority of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in the manufacturing of medical marihuana products.”

Here’s the explanation for the proposal that the departments offered:

“Regulatory amendments to subdivision (n) of section 1004.11 are necessary to allow registered organizations the ability to use extracts derived from hemp, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, as additives to the registered organization’s approved medical marihuana products. This use is limited to hemp and extracts derived from hemp, and only when grown and produced under the authority of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Allowing registered organizations to use hemp and its derivatives will help to reduce registered organizations’ manufacturing costs, thereby reducing costs to patients.”

There has been growing interest in hemp—for agricultural, commercial and medical purposes—since the crop was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has been particularly vocal about his support for the hemp industry, particularly as it concerns the industry’s potential in New York.

“Since its launch, the State’s hemp research program has seen tremendous interest from growers and processors, and this new regulation will provide our research partners with another market for their products,” Agriculture and Markets Department  Commissioner Richard Ball said in a press release. “We support the continued growth of this emerging industry, which has opened the door to new opportunities in New York’s agricultural industry, as well as many other sectors.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released draft rules for hemp last week, and it’s currently soliciting public comment on the proposals. The department also released a webinar on Tuesday that explains the draft regulations.

Industry stakeholders are still awaiting draft regulations for CBD from the Food and Drug Administration. It may be some time before those are released, however, as former Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said it could take years before the agency issues rules given complicating circumstances.

USDA Releases Video Explainer On Its Draft Rules For Hemp

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

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