Hemp is a multi-purpose plant that has been grown for thousands of years for its fiber, seeds, and oil. It is a subspecies of the cannabis plant, although it differs from marijuana in terms of chemical composition and physical appearance.
One of the primary distinctions between hemp and marijuana is the amount of THC, the psychoactive ingredient responsible for marijuana's intoxicating effects. Hemp usually has less than 0.3% THC, but marijuana can have up to 30% or more THC content. As a result, hemp is not intoxicating and cannot provide the "high" known with marijuana. Hemp also has a distinct physical look that differs from marijuana. Hemp plants are often taller and skinnier, with long, thin leaves clustered at the plant's apex. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are shorter and bushier, with larger leaves.
Hemp is often known as industrial hemp since it is frequently farmed for industrial purposes such as textiles, paper, building materials, and biofuels. Industrial hemp is grown particularly for these reasons and is cultivated slightly differently from hemp farmed for CBD extraction or other purposes.
Besides hemp’s industrial uses, the plant and its parts are also widely used for nutritional benefits. Hemp seeds are a nutrient-rich source of protein, healthy fats, and other essential vitamins. They are frequently consumed raw, roasted, or crushed into hemp seed oil used in cooking and cosmetics. Hemp seeds may also be used to manufacture hemp milk, a non-dairy milk substitute high in protein and healthy fats.
Hemp flowers have a high concentration of CBD and other useful cannabinoids. They may be used to create hemp extract, a concentrated version of CBD frequently used for therapeutic purposes. Hemp extract comes in a number of forms, including tinctures, capsules, and topicals.
Another prominent product obtained from the hemp plant is hemp oil. It is created by cold-pressing the plant's seeds to extract the oil high in fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. Hemp oil is frequently used in cooking, salad dressing, and as a nutritional supplement.
Hemp hearts are shelled hemp seeds rich in protein and healthy lipids. They may be consumed raw, blended into smoothies, or used in various dishes.
Federal legislation, such as the Marijuana Tax Act and the Controlled Substances Act enacted in 1937 and 1970, posed legal challenges to the cultivation or possession of Cannabis sativa. These laws limited access to all varieties of the cannabis plant and contributed to about a half-century hiatus in the hemp industry in the United States.
Recent federal legislation revisions have legally differentiated hemp from marijuana and permitted the production, processing, and commercialization of hemp in the United States. The US Agricultural Act of 2014, often known as the Farm Bill, authorized hemp growing through pilot projects overseen by state agricultural departments and carried out by state universities. Hemp was further classified as an agricultural commodity in the 2018 Farm Bill and was removed from the controlled substances list. This legislation also paved the way for the commercialization of hemp production.
In 2015, New York State introduced the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program, recognizing hemp’s potential impact on manufacturing, employment creation, and agricultural profitability. The pilot program was created under Assembly Bill 9140 in 2014 and modeled after the 2014 Farm Bill. A9140 required persons looking to participate in the pilot program to get authorization as research partners under any of the following agreements:
The Grower Research Partner Agreement
The Industrial Hemp Processor (non-CBD) Research Partner Agreement
The CBD Research Partner (CBD) Agreement
Since 2015, New York State has collaborated with researchers, businesses, and processors to devise strategies to advance research and expand the industry statewide. Throughout the duration of the New York State Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program, nearly 800 producers were authorized, and approximately 30,000 acres were registered for industrial hemp cultivation.
Following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, all states intending to run a state hemp program had to submit hemp program plans to the USDA. As a result, the New York State Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program has been replaced by a new program recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Farm Bill and related regulations. The USDA has approved the New York State Hemp Plan, which includes new guidelines for hemp growers, including sampling and testing regulations.
In addition, following the approval of the 2018 Farm Bill, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets established the Cannabinoid Hemp Program per Chapter 1 of the Laws of 2020 to govern the cultivation and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products in the state, including CBD.
Hemp producers and processors in New York State must be licensed and follow strict regulations for the cultivation, processing, and testing of their products under the Cannabinoid Hemp Program. The program also mandates testing and labeling for hemp-derived products, including CBD. The New York State Cannabinoid Hemp Program is overseen by the Office of Cannabis Management, supervised by the Cannabis Control Board.
Note that a distributor must hold a cannabis hemp distributor permit to distribute cannabinoid hemp products manufactured outside of the state to cannabinoid hemp merchants within New York State. The permit must expressly authorize the importing of non-New York hemp. This includes online retailers, who must be licensed to sell into New York, even if they do not run a separate business in the state.
Hemp extracts are not permitted to be sold directly to consumers but must be manufactured into a cannabinoid hemp product before being offered for sale. Any product derived or processed from hemp used for human consumption, such as topical application for its cannabinoid content, containing no more than 0.3% THC is referred to as a cannabinoid hemp product. Only cannabinoid hemp products are legal under the New York Cannabinoid Hemp Program (CHP).
Cannabidiol or CBD products are examples of cannabinoid hemp products and may come in a variety of forms, including tinctures, capsules, pills, lotions, balms, and food or beverage products. Hemp-derived products such as hemp seed oil or hemp seeds, which do not contain cannabinoids, are regulated as foods and not considered under the scope of the New York State CHP.
Note that Delta-8 THC products are not permitted to be manufactured or sold under the New York State CHP.
Municipalities are prohibited from opting out of cannabinoid hemp license types under New York Hemp Cannabinoid Program. However, some jurisdictions may enforce laws restricting the locations where such operations may occur.
Persons seeking to grow and cultivate hemp seeds or process and manufacture hemp products must apply for hemp licenses to the Department of the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. To obtain a hemp grower license in New York, follow these steps:
A key participant may be a sole proprietor, a partner in a partnership, or an individual with executive, managerial control in a business entity. Such persons include, with limitation, a chief operating officer, chief executive officer, and chief financial officer. A key participant cannot be a non-executive manager, such as a farm, field, or shift manager.
Note that the application form is a fillable pdf, but the form and the accompanying documents must be printed and mailed to the NYSDAM in hardcopy. Also, the FBI summary check must be dated no more than 2 months prior to the date of application
The Department will review your application to ensure it complies with all requirements
Once the review is complete, you will be notified of the outcome
If the application is approved, a hemp license will be mailed to you at the address stated on your application
Note that disqualifying factors may include but are not limited to:
The applicant is younger than 18
An incomplete or incorrect application
Recent (within the past 10 years) drug-related felony convictions of an applicant or key participant(s)
Proposing to use a growing or processing location already registered by another grower
Mail the complete application to:
The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Division of Plant Industry
10B Airline Drive
Albany, New York 12235
For more information on obtaining hemp grower licenses in New York, contact the NYSDAM by calling (877) 249-6841 or emailing IndustrialHempNYS@agriculture.ny.gov. Alternatively, you may review the hemp program application guides.
The Office of Cannabis Management accepts applications for the following hemp processor license under the New York State Cannabinoid Hemp Program:
Note that this license does not allow for the extraction of cannabinoid hemp. If you want to extract hemp to make products, you must apply for and get a complete Cannabinoid Hemp Processor Extracting and Manufacturing license
Cannabinoid Hemp Processor Manufacturing Only License: This license allows a processor to buy crude oil, distillate, isolate, or other intermediary product to manufacture a final cannabinoid hemp product
The Cannabinoid Hemp Processor Extracting and Manufacturing License: This license allows a processor to isolate or extract cannabinoids from hemp to create distillate, crude oil, isolate, or other intermediary product to be further refined or manufactured into a final cannabinoid hemp product. The license also permits the manufacturing of final cannabinoid hemp products
The requirements for these licenses include:
Processor business overview
Applicant Processing Location
Proof of Hemp Grower Status at the Department of Agriculture & Markets (if applicable)
Third-Party Laboratory Testing
Business Activities floor plan (if applicable)
Extraction method (if applicable)
Planned Source of Cannabinoid Hemp and or Cannabinoid Hemp Extract (if applicable)
Workers Compensation verification
Proof of product liability insurance (if applicable)
Proof of Certificate of occupancy (if applicable)
Proof of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) audit (if applicable)
Any other licenses issued at the facility (if applicable)
Ownership and management information for the business (owners and % ownership)
You can complete an application for any of these 3 processor licenses online by visiting the hemp processor license application page of the New York government website.
To obtain a cannabinoid hemp processor (extracting and manufacturing) license, you must pay a non-refundable application fee of $1,000 and a refundable $3,500 license fee. This license is valid for two years.
A cannabinoid hemp processor manufacturing-only license costs a non-refundable application fee of $500 and a refundable license fee of $1,000. This license is valid for 2 years. Also, a cannabinoid hemp farm processor license costs a non-refundable $100 application fee and a refundable $300 license fee. The hemp farm processor license is valid for 2 years.
Persons looking to obtain hemp grower licenses must pay $500 as license fees. The hemp grower license is valid for three years. Individuals planning to grow hemp into seedlings and sell the plants to other licensed hemp growers as transplants need to apply for a hemp grower license and a nursery grower license ($100), making the total license fee $600. Note that the hemp nursery grower license is valid for 2 years. Persons intending to buy hemp seed from a grower to sell to licensed growers must also apply for a hemp seed retail license ($100), making the total license fee $600. The hemp seed retail license is also valid for 2 years.
Growing hemp in New York can be a satisfying experience for farmers who follow standard hemp cultivation practices. You may follow the guidelines listed below for good hemp crop yields:
Select Your Hemp Varieties and Seeds: The first step in growing hemp is determining the aim of hemp cultivation, whether fiber, grain, or CBD production. After deciding on the goal, you must also opt for high-quality seeds from a trusted seed seller
Prepare the Soil and Planting Location: Hemp needs well-drained soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5 and a high quantity of organic matter. Clear the soil of any debris, till the soil to a depth of between 6 and 8 inches, then add organic matter to prepare your planting site
Sow Your Seeds: Hemp seeds should be sown at a depth of 0.75 to 1.25 inches, with rows 4 to 5 feet apart and plants 2 to 4 feet apart. This space provides for optimal air circulation and aids in disease prevention
Monitor the Plants and Use Approved Pesticides Only: Since hemp is susceptible to various pests and diseases, it is vital to monitor your plants regularly and take appropriate measures to prevent or treat any problems that arise. To verify permitted pesticides for hemp cultivation in New York State, visit the Bureau of Pesticide Management portal of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Select the Advanced Search tab to access the search options. In the Use/Type box, click Hemp (Industrial) in the Pesticide Use dropdown box and then select search
Hemp Harvesting: The crop's intended purpose will determine the timing of your hemp harvest. Hemp is normally harvested for fiber production when the plants are in full bloom, which occurs about 100 days following planting. Hemp should be harvested for grain production when the seeds mature and the plants begin to dry up. Hemp is normally harvested for CBD production after the plants, usually between 60 and 90 days following planting
Allow Your Hemp to Dry and Store: To avoid mold and other problems, hemp should be dried to a moisture level of less than 15% after harvesting. Hemp may be dried and stored in a dry area until it is ready to be processed
Note that while hemp and marijuana are of the same cannabis family, their cultivation methods are different. For example, hemp plants are spaced farther apart than marijuana plants because they require more space to grow their fibrous stalks. Also, marijuana plants require a specific light schedule to produce buds, while hemp plants do not require specific light schedules for fiber or seed production.
The New York Cannabinoid Hemp Program allows for the sale of cannabinoid hemp flower; however, it may not be branded or marketed for smoking purposes or in the shape of a joint, cigarette, cigar, or pre-roll. Hence, cannabinoid hemp retail licensees may sell cannabinoid hemp flower products not advertised for smoking.
While smokable products are prohibited under the CHP, inhalable products are not. The New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) provides for smokable hemp products to be sold by adult-use cannabis retail licensees. Note that there are no restrictions on the amount of hemp flower products that may be purchased under the New York CHP.
Hemp is a cannabis plant variety that has less than 0.3% THC. In contrast, THC is the principal psychoactive component present in marijuana. It causes the "high" associated with marijuana usage and is prohibited federally.
While hemp-derived THC products are available in New York, they are subject to stringent regulations. Hemp retail licensees under the New York State Cannabinoid Hemp Program are permitted to sell hemp-derived THC products that contain no more than 0.3% THC. However, THC derived from hemp with more than 0.3% THC may only be purchased from retailers licensed under the New York State adult-use cannabis program.
While many people think of CBD when referring to hemp, they are not the same. Hemp refers to non-psychoactive cannabis plant strains with less than 0.3%, while CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical found in hemp and marijuana plants. CBD has therapeutic uses as it may be used to treat a wide range of conditions, including anxiety, discomfort, and sleeplessness.
CBD is often produced from hemp since hemp plants contain more CBD and less THC than marijuana plants. Hemp-derived CBD products such as oil, pills, gummies, and topicals may be sold by licensed hemp retailers in the state as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC.
Beyond its medicinal applications, hemp has a diverse range of applications. Some of these applications include:
Textiles and Clothing: Since hemp fibers are long and robust, they are suitable for textiles and clothes. Hemp fibers may be spun into yarn or thread and then woven into textiles that are long-lasting and breathable
Paper Products: Hemp may be used to manufacture a range of paper goods, such as printing paper, packaging materials, and even toilet paper. Hemp paper is more environmentally friendly than typical paper products since it is made with less chemicals
Construction: Hemp fibers may be used to construct a number of building materials, such as insulation, flooring, and even hempcrete (a building material formed from hemp, lime, and water). Hemp-based building materials are long-lasting and non-toxic
Industrial Materials: Hemp fibers may be used to manufacture a range of industrial items, such as ropes, twine, and even vehicle parts. Hemp oil is also used in the production of biofuels and lubricants