In a first, the United States Department of Agriculture is hosting a national hemp webinar series.
The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has partnered with Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Science on the effort, which “aims to broaden the scope of training, education, and connectivity within the hemp community,” according to the USDA’s announcement.
“Hemp is rapidly emerging as a critical multi-use and economically significant crop, so this hemp seminar series is designed to increase the diversity, equity, and inclusivity of ARS’ mission while providing hemp-specific education, training, and networking opportunities to historically underserved communities,” said Zachary Stansell, the ARS’ geneticist and acting hemp curator, in the announcement.
The webinar series, which began this week, runs through May. Topics include: cultivation, extraction, processing, genetics, hemp food, and even a focus on the endocannabinoid system, which is the system of receptors in the body that reacts to cannabis compounds, known as cannabinoids, like THC and CBD.
Cornell has been growing and researching hemp for years, with a focus on everything from establishing new hemp cultivars to ensuring “economic viability” for producers. Research at the university has ranged from hemp cultivated for its cannabinoids, like CBD and CBG, and hemp cultivated for its fiber.
Cornell has registered to lobby on hemp at a national level since 2018. Cannabis Wire has also found that, in New York, Cornell registered in 2021 to lobby New York’s governor, the lieutenant governor, and the Department of Agriculture and Markets for funding related to “industrial hemp research and workforce education.” The University also registered to lobby on a “Cornell Industrial Hemp Institute.” And finally, broadening to cannabis, Cornell registered to lobby on “funding related” to a “Cornell Industrial and Labor Relations Cannabis Workforce Initiative.”
ARS has other partners in its hemp research efforts, including Alabama A&M, Oregon State University, University of California-Davis, and the University of Wisconsin.
New York is also home to the USDA’s Hemp Germplasm Collection, from which data on hemp genetics is made available to researchers around the world.
The 2018 Farm Bill removed cannabis plants containing .3% THC or less, also known as hemp, from the Controlled Substances Act, and hemp is now being legally cultivated from California to New York.
Since then, the USDA has been steadily increasing its hemp-related efforts, from research on hemp in China, which is currently one of the world’s biggest hemp producers, and on hemp-based “cosmeceuticals,” to surveying more than 20,000 hemp producers in the U.S.
New York’s $2 billion hemp industry is under the purview of the newly established Office of Cannabis Management, which also oversees medical and adult use cannabis.