Updated: Feb 10, 2021
NYS Flower Ban Must Be Removed to Have a Thriving Hemp Industry
We want to alert you, our readers, customers, and supporters, to recent proposed state regulations that, if adopted, will harmfully affect hemp growers and consumers in New York State.
As many of you know, we’ve been awaiting regulations, curious how they would impact growers, processors, and consumers alike. In fact, many of the recent proposed regulations are beneficial. For example, with a clear licensing framework, and standards for manufacturing, labeling, and testing, they will protect consumers and also pave the way for hemp-infused beverages and food.
However, these long-awaited regulations contain a big surprise: a ban on the sale of hemp flower. By cutting off the most practical and lucrative avenue for growers, this move is counter to the intent of the 2018 Farm Bill, which was to create a thriving industry for farmers, and the purpose of NY regulations to “protect farmers.” Governor Cuomo himself described the proposed regulations in glowing terms, highlighting farmers as well as consumers:
"These regulations are the next step toward regulating the growing hemp industry in New York in a way that protects consumers and helps ensure the industry's long-term viability. Establishing the State's Cannabinoid Hemp Program to regulate production and sale of hemp and hemp extract will help protect both consumers and farmers."
–Governor Andrew Cuomo
The fact that the regulations against flower sales were announced just as farmers were harvesting their hemp flower and preparing product for sale is a cruel irony. The New York ban on sale of hemp flower hurts the state’s approximately 700 hemp farmers—those who have invested hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars growing for flower as well as small growers, who may be pushed out of business entirely.
Things to consider:
There is higher demand for flower than other hemp products, such as CBD oil.
Flower is the fastest growing segment of the industry.
Even Senator Metzger, who sponsored the original bill, hopes the state DOH will revise the regulations to permit the sale of smokable hemp flower.
There are clearly defined testing and labeling requirements for all other CBD products—why not include flower and permit its sale?
The possibility of a black market for hemp flower will result in loss of tax revenue for the state as well as consumers’ buying unregulated product.
Hemp flower is the only aspect of the industry where profit margins exist, as an oversupply of biomass has created a steep decline in its price.
In an already challenged economy, putting farmers out of business--farmers who planted hemp in good faith--seems counter to any reasonable goals of a state government.
At HSG, we also take note of a justification claimed by the DOH that rings false. According to DOH Public Information Officer, Jill Montag, the regulation protects New Yorkers from the risks of smoking. She claims that “the proposed cannabinoid hemp regulations prohibit the sale of hemp flower by licensed cannabinoid hemp retailers to discourage the use of this product form due to the negative health effects associated with combustible products.” It is not difficult to find the flaws in this line of reasoning. Since the regulations allow for vape products, which are not natural and contain additives and toxins, and given the fact that cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are legal, broadly marketed, and consumed throughout the country despite the Surgeon General’s warnings, how is concern for the health effects of smokable, all natural hemp products a plausible claim?
We believe the proposed all-out ban on the sale of smokable flower must be removed for New York to have a thriving hemp industry. For a thorough outline of the many negative effects the ban will have and the reasoning behind our position, please read this article by HSG’s General Counsel, Jason D. Minard, Esq.
If you agree with us that banning hemp flower and its sale in the nation’s largest retail hub is detrimental to the New York hemp industry, let your voice be heard. Join HSG and many other New York growers, processors, and consumers in sending comments to Albany.
There is a 60-day comment period to persuade the state to allow the sale of hemp flower. Comments on the new regulations will be accepted by the Health Department from now through Jan. 11, 2021.
If you are interested in stopping the flower ban, please email your comments about the new state regulations to email@example.com, call 518-473-7488 or write to NY DOH Bureau of Program Counsel, Regulatory Affairs Unit, Corning Tower, Empire State Plaza, Rm. 2438, Albany, New York 12237-0031. Feel free to use any part of this document in your comments.