The New York Times published a fascinating description of the first hemp crop to be grown in New York in 80 years at JD Farms. Mark Justh, a former JP Morgan banker in Asia, bought the farm in 2013, and Daniel Dolgin, a former counterterrorism expert, purchased a 50% stake earlier this year. Justh was an unsuccessful applicant in the state’s medical cannabis licensing program in 2015 as CEO of Mindful Medical New York LLC. JD Farms planted 30 acres of hemp on the 1300 acre farm and plans to sell the stalk for biomaterial and the seeds for food. It currently is not growing industrial hemp for CBD but may do so in the future.
Their industrial hemp seeds were procured in Canada because in the United States, as reported by the New York Times, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) still considers industrial hemp to be regulated as a Schedule 1 drug. JD Farms had to jump through hoops to even obtain the DEA import permit to get the Canadian seeds. This makes no sense, considering that industrial hemp is a cannabis plant that contains less than .03% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which provides the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Industrial hemp, as reported by Medicaljane.com, has a wide variety of uses, such as foods, resins, paper, oils fiber and fuel.
Morrisville and JD Farms will study the conditions under which industrial hemp best grows in this particular climate and soil conditions. This effort will help produce a guide that farmers across the state can reference in anticipation of the crop becoming commercially viable under state and federal law.
During this year’s legislative session, Lupardo and O’Mara passed a new bill that will allow for the transportation, processing, sale, and distribution of hemp grown as part of the research program. Under federal law, the DEA is prohibited from using federal funds to interfere with “the transportation, processing, sale, or use of industrial hemp” that is grown in accordance with state law. Changes to New York’s law will codify this, allowing farms and research institutions to bring hemp products to market.
Both the stalk and seed from hemp can be used in the production of a variety of goods including textiles, building materials, paper, food, body products and environmental products such as biofuels. It is also a source of cannabidiol, the oil used in medical marijuana applications, and is rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which gives it numerous health benefits to both humans and animals. In 2015, retail sales from imported hemp products were estimated at $600 million.