As the buds of New York’s cannabis industry take root and take shape, lawmakers and cannabis growers are emphasizing action in the 2022 legislature to expand the use of industrial hemp by cannabis entrepreneurs – creating new opportunities for farmers.
New legislation proposed by Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, would require the state Cannabis Control Board to develop detailed plans for the packaging and labeling of newly legalized recreational cannabis products, and the Office of Hire Cannabis Management and Empire State Development, a sustainable cannabis packaging incubator program, to provide financial incentives for farmers and cannabis business owners to manufacture and use hemp-based materials.
“A lot of cannabis packaging uses a single-use, single-serving process, so there’s a lot of waste,” said Hinchey. “We have to find ways to stop our landfills from being backfilled. As we are creating a whole new industrial state in the state that is quite waste generating, we should have a circular economy that ensures cannabis products are packaged with biodegradable hemp to ensure that much less waste is created when this new industry is started. ”
Bill S7508 is on the Senate Order Committee. The new draft law will be one of several cannabis-related measures that will be discussed in the upcoming 2022 legislative period, which starts on Wednesday.
Unlike other crops, hemp can grow in most climates and on most arable land, requires less water, and does not require pesticides or herbicides, according to the senator’s office.
Composites made from hemp are 3.5 times stronger than conventional plastics and can replace a wide variety of plastic items – such as water bottles, packaging, building materials, and auto parts – and are biodegradable, taking between three and six months to break down. Petroleum-based plastics take over 400 years to decompose.
“Hemp is a product that varies incredibly in its uses,” said Hinchey. “It’s incredibly diverse. Anything made with plastic can be replaced with hemp. The exciting thing is that nobody in the world really does that. “
“If we can get the market going here in New York, we would be leaders in this new manufacturing industry that is a win for our economy and especially a win for our farmers and the upstate environment,” she added.
The new move would revitalize New York’s industrialized hemp industry and help the state be one of the first in the country to prioritize environmental sustainability in recreational cannabis products.
“The Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board are examining a wide range of issues as we develop the regulations, with strong stakeholder engagement and opportunities for comment, that will bring this new industry to life in a safe and sustainable way that will bring public health to life protects and the environment, “a spokesman for the Office of Cannabis Management said in a statement.
Agency officials would not answer specific questions about what methods board members are considering to regulate recreational marijuana waste or when the agency would publicly address the issue. The office does not regulate the state’s industrial hemp.
Representatives would not comment on the proposed incentives for farmers or cannabis sellers to offset plastic use.
The incentive to focus on the use and manufacture of biodegradable hemp-based packaging for cannabis products would open business opportunities for smallholders and boost economic development in the rural hinterland communities.
Melany Dobson is co-chair of the Sustainability Committee for the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association.
She is also the chief product officer and co-founder of Hudson Hemp – a 2,400 acre bio-regenerative hemp farm based in Hudson. Columbia County’s hemp processor works with several hemp growers in Columbia, Dutchess and Ulster Counties and is the parent company of Treaty CBD.
The CBD oil company uses biodegradable hemp stoves from Rensselaer County-based biotechnology company Ecovative Design for all of its packaging, including its compostable waste bins.
“One of our slogans is, ‘Sustainability is good, regeneration is forever,’” said Dobson. “Given the state of the climate and our environment, it is important right now that we go beyond sustainability and revolutionize our industrial systems through regenerative agricultural practices.”
Ecovative’s hemp packaging uses a herd of hemp or the inner, woody core of the inventory’s hemp plant and mycelium to match any shaped package or product.
The bill will help create more resources for biodegradable alternatives to plastic and help other emerging hemp growers and cannabis companies locate the industry and develop New York-based packaging supply chains.
Innovative thinking for the emerging industry is taking hold: The New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association is committed to integrating sustainability into the framework of state cannabis policy and infrastructure, Dobson said.
“Our goal is to set standards that prioritize sustainable practices,” she said. “This is an excellent opportunity for coalitions and associations to democratize this process and propose rules and guidelines, and ways to educate and educate consumers.
Dobson said she supported the proposed bill, adding that it will open the door to hemp to help in the medical, food, fuel and packaging industries.
“The nice thing about what this legislation is proposing is that it creates a closed system for this industry,” she said. “What other agricultural product can we say that about? Especially at the state level. “
The state association of cannabis breeders and processors meets three times a week and is in regular contact with state officials from the Office of Cannabis Management and Cannabis Control Board, lawmakers and other leaders to review how effective measures can be proposed to ensure that sustainable practices become part of the industry’s regulations and legal framework.
Cannabis Control Board member Jen Metzger, a former Senator from Rosendale, recently visited Eaton Hemp in Madison County, which sells organic hemp seeds, snacks, and hemp fiber pet care products.
“They were very interested to see what we did,” said Daniel Dolgin, CEO and co-founder of Eaton Hemp. Dolgin is also the chairman of the association’s industrial hemp committee.
“The OCM is very interested in the adult program being very much about sustainability and climate change, carbon neutrality and all those good things,” he said. “At all OCM board meetings, the topic of sustainability was in the foreground.”
Dolgin is excited about the bill to boost the state’s hemp use and production.
“The state has to make the difference, and right now it’s a question of supply and demand,” said Dolgin. “You really have to ask people to plant seeds in the ground to grow grain and fiber. A farmer will not give up valuable arable land if he knows that he can be paid for it. “
Dobson agreed that discussions about sustainable cannabis practices should be a priority for all parties involved.
“We’re moving fast – we take this period really seriously because there is something unknown but also an urgency,” she said. “We know that ecological and social justice are inextricably linked. In order to create a just and fair industry, we must approach these challenges with an openness that was not represented in other countries. “
It remains unclear when recreational cannabis sales and the need for eco-friendly packaging will increase as the new Office of Cannabis Management and Board of Directors work to develop rules and regulations.
New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational cannabis after the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act went into effect on March 31.
Proponents noted overregulation and numerous barriers in other states, such as California, that hampered sustainable practices and small businesses.
Dobson’s conversation in New York encourages him not to repeat the same mistakes.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, which calls for a 40% reduction in statewide greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and an 85% reduction in emissions by 2050, sets a framework for regulating incentives to part the state’s cannabis industry to make the climate solution, she says she said.
“I haven’t seen these talks go off successfully in any other state,” added Dobson. “The way we discuss these things and how they relate to sustainability is very much appreciated and cultivated. Undertaking this endeavor isn’t really a lofty goal – it becomes necessary by doing it, and that’s incredible. “
Hinchey discussed the measure with several fellow senators who support the idea. The bill continues to build bipartisan support before the session starts, she said.
“It’s one of those things that feels like a no-brainer,” said the senator. “We have the opportunity to grow this agricultural product, but there are no concrete plans. We know our solid waste is a problem. So if we can, this would be a solution to stop generating more waste in the near future. This is a great benefit on the environmental side, on the economic side and all around for our country. “