More than 200 people attended Cornell University’s Hemp Filed Day at the Agricultural Experimental Station in Geneva, NY on Aug. 13, 2019. Cornell researchers reviewed the results of test crops.
Jeff Platsky, email@example.com | @JeffPlatsky
ALBANY – New York is experiencing a boom in new hemp farms as the CBD oil industry has grown rapidly.
But without guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the industry can’t reach its potential, Sen. Charles Schumer warned Tuesday.
Schumer urged the FDA to complete its review of the safety of the popular cannabidiol market and also issue regulations to protect consumers.
So far, federal regulators have only approved medical grade CBD for treating severe epilepsy and instead have handled other CBD products similar to nutritional supplements that get limited FDA scrutiny.
“CBD is brimming with potential to be a billion dollar industry across New York State, bringing along countless jobs and truly meaningful economic development with it,” Schumer said.
“But before that can happen, farmers, growers, producers, consumers and vendors need to know exactly what the rules of the road are and right now they’ve got no idea.”
Hemp Products Incorporated principal research & development scientist Robert Mazzuca inspects hemp plants treated with an experimental process growing at their Farm facility on Noxon Road in LaGrangeville on October 11, 2019. (Photo: Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal)
A review by the USA TODAY Network New York last month found more than 400 farmers are growing 18,000 acres of hemp across the state. Two years ago, there were less than 100 state-licensed growers.
With the popularity of CBD products and a federal Farm Bill last year that legalized industrial hemp sales, New York has been well positioned to take advantage of the burgeoning market.
State laws have also been expanded to allow farmers to enter the industry.
But Schumer warned if the FDA doesn’t set regulations and safety requirements soon, it could leave uncertainty in the market across New York and the nation.
He told reporters the FDA needs to be make the industry a higher priority, saying it needs to put more staff into its review. He said he does not use the products.
“And once the feds spell out these ABC’s of CBD, the industry will seed and grow from one corner of the state to the other,” he said.
The FDA last year said it is unlawful to add CBD to food or drinks, and the state Department of Agriculture and Markets has told companies that CBD food or drinks are not allowed anywhere in New York.
We are committed to advancing our regulation of these products through an approach that, in line with our mission, prioritizes public health, fosters innovation and promotes consumer confidence. We plan to provide an update on our progress in this area in the near future.
— Dr. Amy Abernethy (@DrAbernethyFDA) October 22, 2019
The FDA notes that is aggressively trying to crack down on unsubstantiated medical benefits touted by CBD producers.
On Tuesday, for example, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission wrote a warning to Rooted Apothecary LLC, of Naples, Florida, for illegally selling unapproved products containing CBD online with unsubstantiated claims that it can remedy a variety of illnesses.
“We recognize that there is significant public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, however we must work together to fill in the knowledge gaps about the science, safety and quality of many of these products,” Dr. Amy Abernethy, the agency’s deputy commissioner wrote Tuesday on Twitter.
She added the FDA will introduce rules that prioritizes public health and promotes consumer confidence: “We plan to provide an update on our progress in this area in the near future.”
Hemp is the same species of plant as marijuana, but does not have the psychoactive compounds found in weed. So it being used in oils and products to help with a variety of illnesses.
The state Legislature passed a bill in June to better regulate the growth and sale of products containing hemp extracts. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to sign the bill, saying in June that would take time to review it.
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, D-Endwell, Broome County, has pushed for Cuomo to sign the bill after leading state efforts in recent years to expand laws to benefit the industry.
“We passed a standalone bill to basically signal to our New York farmers and everyone involved in the supply chain that we mean to establish the highest quality program that protects our consumers, gives farmers some surety,” she said in June.
More: New York’s hemp boom: How CBD demand is creating new cash crop for Hudson Valley, state
More: What to know about CBD laws, New York’s CBD food and beverage ban, FDA warnings on CBD risk
More: Why hemp growth, CBD regulation may soon take root in New York
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