ALBANY, NY — A bill signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo today will give New York state one of the country’s most comprehensive laws regulating the manufacture and sale of hemp extracts, including the popular supplement CBD.
But it still leaves a cloud of uncertainty on the question of adding CBD to foods and beverages — a practice that remains common in the state despite its illegal status. CBD (cannabidiol) extracted from hemp is a non-psychoactive compound that is touted by its advocates for health benefits.
The law sets out procedures for the licensing of industrial hemp growers and extract manufacturers and establishes what are likely the nation’s strictest testing and labeling requirements. The bill was approved by state lawmakers in June in the wake of their failure to approve a bill legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana.
Hemp is a species of cannabis, like marijuana, but does not produce as much THC, the compound that creates the marijuana ‘high.”
Amendments to the new law negotiated in recent weeks mostly leave the addition of CBD to food and drink unresolved. This summer, the state Agriculture and Markets Department issued an advisory that declared CBD in foods and beverages to be illegal. But enforcement of that directive has been uneven.
A Federal Drug Administration advisory issued in November also failed to completely resolve the question of CBD in food and drink. The state Ag & Markets has cited the FDA’s failure to declare CBD legal in food and drink as a basis for its ruling.
A news release from Cuomo’s office says the bill approved today “defers decision making on hemp extracts, including CBD, as additives for food and beverages.”
There had been a provision in the bill approved by the state Legislature in June that would have allowed beverages to contain up to 20 miligrams of CBD. But neither the initial bill nor the amended version allow for CBD in food, including popular items like gummi candy.
“They are kicking the can down the road on beverages (and food)” said Allen Gandelman, who runs Head + Heal, a cannabis grower/processor in Cortland and is president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. “
Nevertheless, Gandelman is happy with much of the bill, which he says fixes the “Wild West” atmosphere in CBD manufacturing and sales. He believes New York’s industry can benefit from having strong and clear regulations.
“The spirit of the bill creates standards and safety protocols for producers,” Gandelman said. “Pushing standards forward is good for the industry.”
He said the FDA’s recent action, which primarily prohibits CBD manufacturers from claiming specific health benefits, makes New York’s new law more important. The New York law also prohibits label on CBD that make specific health claims.
“With the FDA (action), it’s more important than ever that we (New York) have our own insulated program,” Gandelman said. He believes the new law will prevent unregulated and unlicensed out-of-state products from entering the New York market.
Cuomo also announced today that he will convene a “hemp summit” in January to address some of the ongoing issues.