New York’s hemp flower laws have taken consumers, farmers, and retailers on a virtual roller-coaster ride. After Congress passed the landmark Farm Bill in 2018, citizens could legally possess and consume high-CBD hemp flower throughout the nation.
Unfortunately, some states began banning hemp flower shortly thereafter. New York joined the list of “no flower” states in November of 2020 when the Health Department published new hemp regulations. In March 2021, New York modified its rules to allow for hemp flower sales as long as the product was not marketed for the purpose of smoking. The revised regulations also prohibit pre-rolled hemp flower in the form of joints or cigarettes.
Considering that the state recently legalized recreational cannabis sales, the hemp flower rules seem a bit excessive. While the regulations may make it difficult to buy CBD pre-rolls, anyone over 21 can legally purchase and possess hemp flower in the Empire State.
New York’s Hemp Regulations
New York’s hemp laws are practically identical to the regulations outlined in the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which legalized hemp. The state’s Senate Bill S6184A defines legal hemp in the following manner:
“Industrial hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.
Section 506 goes on to state:
Growth, sale, distribution, transportation, and processing of industrial hemp and products derived from such hemp permitted.
The Bill firmly placed the state of New York in conformity with federal regulations regarding hemp and hemp-derived products.
Rules for Growing Hemp in New York
After the passing of the 2014 federal Farm Bill, New York launched its Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. Later Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the controlled substances list, and New York put its Department of Health in charge of regulating hemp and CBD production.
To apply for a hemp-growing license in New York, farmers need to complete several steps:
- Provide an accurate description of the growing location, including the physical address and GPS coordinates.
- Include detailed research, marketing, and seed/clone acquisition plans with the application.
- Submit a signed and notarized Research Partner Agreement.
- Present a statement of relevant experience for the person responsible for the research project.
- Pay a non-refundable $500 application fee.
As you can see, applying for a license to grow hemp in New York takes quite a lot of preparation.
Legal Hemp Products in New York
Businesses who wish to sell CBD and other hemp-derived products must obtain a retail license or distributor permit through the state’s Cannabinoid Hemp Program. Retailers must submit an application listing the products they wish to sell, provide relevant tax documents, and pay a $300 application fee. Companies planning to extract and process hemp products must go through a more detailed and costly application process.
After obtaining a license, New York retailers can sell hemp flower and other cannabinoid-rich products as long as they follow the state’s rules, including:
- All hemp-derived products must contain less than .3% delta-9 THC.
- New York allows the sale of hemp flower as long as it’s not explicitly marketed for smoking or comes in the form of a cigarette or pre-roll.
- All hemp products must conform to FDA guidelines and avoid making medical claims on the label.
- Manufacturers must fulfill third-party lab testing requirements.
- Inhalable products must carry a label stating that smoking or vaping may be hazardous to human health. Consumers must be at least 21 to purchase CBD vape cartridges and other inhalable products in New York.
- No food or beverages can contain more than 25 milligrams of active cannabinoids per serving. The state also prohibits the manufacture and sale of CBD-infused alcoholic beverages.
- Topical products and tinctures cannot contain more than 3,000 milligrams of CBD. Injectables and dermal patches are prohibited in New York.
Hemp product manufacturers also have to abide by a host of more detailed regulations. New York’s most recent guidelines make the state’s hemp program one of the strictest in the country.
Cannabis Legality in New York
Recreational cannabis became legal in New York on March 31, 2021, when Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation establishing the New York State Cannabis Control Board.
Highlights of New York’s Recreational Cannabis Laws:
- Adults over 21 can possess up to three ounces of cannabis or 24 grams of cannabis concentrates.
- Public cannabis smoking is allowed in places where cigarette smoking is permitted. This change could render the restrictions on smoking hemp flower unenforceable since the two plants are identical outside of a lab.
- Home growers can cultivate three immature and three mature plants per resident with a limit of 12 plants.
New York’s recreational program has received a considerable amount of praise for its efforts at social equity. The state’s measures to aid women, minorities, veterans, and farmers have made the program a potential “Gold Standard” for other states to follow.
New York lawmakers have also introduced a Marijuana Packaging Recycling Bill that would require companies to use at least 50% recycled materials. If passed, the law would also require manufacturers to facilitate a container return program to increase recycling.
Where to Buy Hemp Flower Online in New York
Many of New York’s CBD and hemp stores carry a limited selection of hemp flower. But if you’re searching for the best quality and selection, you’ll have more luck purchasing online through a reputable company. Buying hemp flower online offers a host of advantages, including:
- Better selection: You can choose from a nearly limitless variety of products, from cheaper bulk buds to boutique-grade hemp flowers.
- Convenience: When you buy hemp flower online, you won’t have to drive far or wait in long lines, and your buds will be delivered right to your door.
- Proof of lab testing: High-quality hemp companies usually publish their lab results on the website.
- Lower prices: When you purchase online, you can shop around for deals, and you won’t be paying a markup for the expenses of a brick-and-mortar outlet.