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New York lawmakers act to spur hemp's use in packaging and construction



New York lawmakers on Tuesday passed a bill to spur the use of industrial hemp in packaging and construction, and explore potential new uses for the material.


The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Michelle Hinchey (D), aims to create or expand markets for industrial hemp grown in New York. Under the bill, the state’s agricultural commissioner would work with the state hemp workgroup and industry stakeholders to find uses for the material, reports governance-focused news site The Center Square.


Hinchey’s justification memo notes that the state is already a leader in hemp grown for cannabinoid extraction, but end markets for industrial hemp are lagging behind.


“New York is a leader in the cultivation and processing of hemp, especially for cannabinoid hemp,” the note reads. “The market for New York industrial hemp is still developing and the state needs to take an active role in researching, identifying, and promoting hemp to industries that may incorporate it into their products.


“For example, as the market for sustainable, biodegradable, non-petroleum-based packaging grows, so do the opportunities for New York produced industrial hemp as an ingredient in these products,” the memo continues. “This legislation will encourage renewed focus by the State to work with growers, processors and businesses that are end users to expand market opportunities.”



“As the market for sustainable, biodegradable, non-petroleum-based packaging grows, so do the opportunities for New York produced industrial hemp as an ingredient in these products. This legislation will encourage renewed focus by the State to work with growers, processors and businesses that are end users to expand market opportunities.”

– New York State Sen. Michelle Hinchey




The Senate approved the bill, S8496, unanimously on May 17. The Assembly passed its version of the bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo (D), in late February. The bill has returned to the Assembly before delivery to the governor for a signature, according to the NY State Senate’s log.


New York is in the process of legalizing adult-use recreational cannabis. Those 21 and older will be able to start growing a small number of plants for personal use 18 months after the adult-use retail market opens. That’s expected to happen later this year, according to Marijuana Moment.


With the coming shift to recreational use, Hinchey has proposed two other bills pertaining to cannabis and packaging.


A bill she filed in February aimed to encourage recycling for recreational cannabis packaging by instituting a $1 deposit on single-use plastic containers (returnable for a refund of the deposit). That bill, S8203, is currently before the Environmental Conservation Committee. The Assembly's companion bill was filed by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy (D) last year.


Hinchey also introduced legislation last fall to make biodegradable hemp-based packaging the primary container source for cannabis products made in New York. That bill, S7508, is currently before the Senate Finance Committee. The Assembly version of the bill is sponsored by Fahy.


Other states are also developing new end uses for industrial hemp. In Minnesota, for instance, the department of transportation is prototyping erosion controls made from industrial hemp to use on road construction projects instead of plastic.

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