The CBD and hemp industry in New York is in full bloom but a lack of education still plagues the burgeoning sector, said David Falkowski, who on Saturday afternoon spoke at a cannabis education forum he organized in Sag Harbor.
Falkowski, a Bridgehampton farmer who owns CBD business Open Minded Organics, put the event together in an effort to tackle what he said is widespread misinformation regarding CBD, hemp and cannabis legislation and regulations in New York. Hemp and the hemp-extract CBD, which do not produce a “high” when consumed, are legal in New York State unlike other canabis plants that do and so far are only allowed for medical use.
“Being a [licensed] research grower and processor for hemp in New York State since 2017 … I’ve spent a lot of time and money traveling the country going to events like this, going to seminars, trying to access information and it’s been very difficult,” he said.
“To this day, from what I hear from public officials, regulators, law enforcement, and even people entering the industry, they don’t know where to go for answers to start figuring this out.”
Falkowski called on industry experts, both local and from throughout New York, including trade group representatives, medical marijuana practitioners, owners of hemp and CBD businesses, and a Stony Brook University professor, who teaches online courses about medical , marijuana, to speak at the two-hour forum.
“Most of us who have lived here on Long Island for a number of years can probably remember driving past the farms full of rows of potatoes, sweet corn, cauliflower, and cabbage,” said speaker Rob Carpenter, administrative director of the Long Island Farm Bureau. “Well, those crops are becoming more economically difficult to grow because of competition from other states with less regulation, lower wages and easier growing capabilities.”
Farmers on the Island are turning to crops that allow them to generate higher profits, he said.
“Farmers here are in the midst of transitioning to other types of crops that will allow them to be more economically successful, crops like hemp. … With the high cost of doing business here and land use regulations here, farmers have to squeeze every nickel of profit they can to survive.”
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The speeches portion of the event was followed by a brief question and answer period, in which a crowd of about 50 attendees, picked the experts brains on issues regarding the several cannabis programs that exist in New York State — including the hemp extract bill and the medical marijuana program.
A common theme? Questions about the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act — a proposed bill which creates a legal framework to grow and sell cannabis — and questions regarding access to banking for businesses operating in the hemp and CBD space.
Though speakers did not have clear cut answers for every question asked, Falkowski said, “This is event is just one of many to come.”
Daysi Calavia-Robertson is a business reporter who covers agriculture, retail, travel and tourism, and special interest topics. She has covered lifestyle and entertainment, on-camera.