Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that aims to boost hemp production, as Ontario gathers public input on legalizing marijuana.
The governor also announced $10 million in state funds to boost industrial hemp research and development.
While hemp is a variety of cannabis, it does not contain the level of active compounds found in marijuana. Nonetheless, efforts to grow the plant for use in textiles, food supplements, biofuels and even building materials have long been hampered by anti-drug laws.
The bill signed by Cuomo formally adds hemp to the state's list of agricultural commodities and creates a hemp advisory panel. Cuomo said hemp holds great potential for New York's agricultural and biotechnology industries.
A state program launched last year allows farmers to partner with universities to grow and research hemp.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government has set up an online survey to gather public input as it works to develop its approach to marijuana legalization.
Legalization next July by the federal government will mark a big change in the country and there is a lot at stake as the province decides how it will regulate the distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis. The province wants input from Ontarians on how it should proceed in a way that protects youth, prevents harm and keeps Ontario roads safe.
People can fill out the online survey starting today through July 31. The province will also hold a series of expert forums and public sessions this summer on the potential impact of cannabis legalization.