Delta-8 THC was front and center during the latest meeting of New York’s cannabis regulators, as officials work to stand up what will be one of the world’s biggest cannabis markets.
The state’s Cannabis Control Board (CCB) met on Wednesday, for the third time, to approve Cannabinoid Hemp regulations presented by the Office of Cannabis Management. The package of rules will now regulate hemp products, including CBD products, by creating “clear” guidelines for what kinds of products and activities are allowed, and which ones aren’t, “to help foster the development of a robust cannabinoid hemp industry.” The rules also seek to enhance consumer protection and quality control through testing and labeling, and to “enforce against” products that don’t meet the bar and those that are explicitly banned.
“Delta-8, similar to delta-9 THC, is psychoactive, has psychoactive properties, particularly when synthesized through the processing process. Because of that, we’ve decided to hold off on including the regulations for those products in this package and that will be addressed in the future adult use packages,” Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM), within which the Board sits, said during a question and answer portion of the meeting, when asked specifically where delta-8 rules stood.
The regulations do, however, allow for cannabinoids, like CBD, to be added to foods and beverages, if they meet the state’s standards, which will require that each product be made using Good Manufacturing Practices. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 45, which will now allow hemp-derived CBD (or other cannabinoids) in supplements, foods, drinks, cosmetics, and pet food.
“I’m pleased that we will be advancing the cannabinoid hemp program today, just as we have done with the expansion of the medical marijuana program at prior meetings,” Tremaine Wright, chair of the Board, said at the start of the meeting. (As Cannabis Wire recently reported, the Board has already moved to allow for medical cannabis shops to sell flower products, which several have started to do, and released rules for patients to home grow.)
Board member Jen Metzger gave an overview of the hemp program in New York. In 2015, the Department of Agriculture and Markets launched the state’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. Metzger said this program “exploded” after it launched, with 800 farmers registered to grow, most for cannabidiol (CBD). When the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act passed in March, legalizing cannabis for adult use, the Cannabinoid Hemp Program was transitioned under the umbrella of the new Office of Cannabis Management.
Assemblymember Donna Lupardo, who represents the Binghamton region of upstate New York, told Cannabis Wire by email that she was “proud” to sponsor the original Cannabinoid Hemp Program legislation in the Assembly.
”We’ve been working for years to establish hemp as a new crop in New York State, one with multiple uses. While farmers are also growing hemp for its seed and fiber, cannabinoid hemp extracts require a unique set of safety standards,” Lupardo told Cannabis Wire. “The regulations approved,” Lupardo said, “position New York State as a national leader in consumer protection and industry excellence.”
As of October, the state has provisionally approved just over 2,800 hemp program applications, roughly 400 of which are for distributors, 35 for manufacturers, 36 for processors, and nearly 2,400 for retail licenses.
The Board also made some changes to the proposed rules, or what they called “future edits” to the regulations.
Among the changes that regulators adopted: the amount of THC allowed in intermediary hemp extracts has been raised from 3% to 5%; the per milligram cap for dietary supplements of cannabinoid hemp products has been raised from 75 mg to 100 mg; the requirement that cannabinoid hemp products must be shelf stable has been removed; hemp farmers can now process and manufacture their own products.
“Engaging key stakeholders,” Wright said, has been a priority. She added that she’s been on a tour of speaking events across the state, including Zoom or in-person speeches at the upstate chapter of the American Planning Association, the New York State Association of Training and Employment Professionals, the Cannabis Business Symposium in Rochester, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, and and the Public Employer Risk Management Association.
“Engaging with the community, speaking directly to the community, and incorporating community feedback is essential to the mission of the OCM,” Wright said.
The Board also considered and approved another batch of hires, which Wright said will be “a tremendous lift” to the existing Board team.
Alexander gave some other broad updates, including that the first educational campaign about adult use cannabis is getting underway, with an emphasis on public health messaging, Alexander said.
And, with the December 31 deadline nearing for local governments to opt out of adult use activity, a form for towns and cities to share opt out details with the OCM is live.