New York State will continue its hemp growing season through 2021, after the federal government decided to delay new regulations that the state found "overly strict" and “unrealistic.”
That is a reversal since August, when the state Department of Agriculture told hemp growers that it would suspend trying to regulate the crop, that is, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture enforced stricter requirements for farmers. David Falkowski is a New York hemp grower. He said the USDA rules almost made him quit. “The USDA framework for testing, total compliance timelines, potential disposal, potential criminal charges if things go hot over limits, issues regarding labs and analytics, it was very scary and really increased the risk, both economically and you know, for crop loss,” Falkowski said. New federal rules have a stricter definition of what’s considered legal hemp. The rules said a crop that contains more than 0.3% of the chemical THC would be considered marijauna - an illegal drug. Those rules have been put off until the 2022 growing season. Allan Gandelman is with the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. He said the new rules might have gotten farmers in trouble with the Drug Enforcement Agency. “We have another year where we actually feel safe and growing hemp in New York State," Gandelman said. "A lot of the worry around the new program was the DEA coming in. And if you have a crop that might test a little bit above 0.3%, you can be held criminally accountable for that.” New York’s agriculture department said it would not try to regulate hemp any more because of the new USDA rules. The state hemp program will continue under the old federal rules.