05.04.18

SCHUMER REVEALS: OUTDATED FED LAW IS HOLDING BACK SULLIVAN COUNTY FARMERS FROM COMMERCIALLY GROWING INDUSTRIAL HEMP, USED TO MAKE VARIETY OF DIFFERENT GOODS LIKE CLOTHES AND PAPER; SENATOR ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR BIPARTISAN SENATE LEGISLATION THAT FIXES LAW, ALLOWING HUDSON VALLEY FARMERS TO GROW NEW CROP WITHOUT HARSH RESTRICTIONS

Currently Hemp Is Classified As A Controlled Substance, Putting It On Par With Other Substances Like Heroin And Other Opioids Due To Trace Amounts Of THC; However, Senator Says Industrial Hemp Can Be Used To Make Paper, Clothing, Plastics And Even Fuel 

Bipartisan Bill Removes Fed Roadblock That Obstructs Hemp’s Full Potential In Sullivan County; Senator Says New Bill Empowers States To Act As Primary Regulators of Hemp, Allows For Hemp Researchers To Apply For Research Grants, And Allows Hemp Growers To Be Eligible For Critical Crop Insurance 

Schumer: Relaxing Hemp Laws Could Mean Millions In Economic Revenue & Support New Local Jobs In Sullivan County 

Standing at The Center for Discovery’s Michael Ritchie Big Barn Center in Hurleyville, Sullivan County, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced his support for the Hemp Farming Act of 2018. Schumer said the bill could help unlock hemp’s full potential as an agricultural commodity in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster Counties, as well as across New York State, by removing it from a federal list of controlled substances.  Facilities like The Center for Discovery and SUNY Sullivan, who have partnered and are growing the first biodynamic hemp in the state would benefit from this new legislation by continuing to grow, research, and expand their hemp pilot program. Schumer said the Mid-Hudson Valley is on the verge of a hemp explosion, with hundreds of acres of hemp already authorized to be grown in the region for research purposes. Moreover, Schumer said the passage of the bill would allow for farmers in Sullivan County and areas throughout the Hudson Valley to produce hemp for commercial purposes ultimately helping to create new opportunities for job growth, producing millions of dollars in economic growth and building on and expanding the Hudson Valley’s long agricultural history. By officially cosponsoring the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, Schumer has signaled an important partnership with his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) the Senate majority leader, who is the primary sponsor of the bill.

“The federal government made a mistake when they labeled hemp as a controlled substance, putting it on par with dangerous substances like heroin. In reality, industrial hemp is an oyster with a pearl of opportunities that could mean millions in economic revenue while also helping to support new local jobs in Sullivan, Orange and Ulster counties,” said Senator Schumer. “Industrial Hemp can be used to make everything from paper, to clothing, to plastics which is why it so important we fix this outdated law as soon as possible so farms, businesses, and partnerships, like the one fostered between The Center For Discovery and SUNY Sullivan can continue to grow, expand, and research benefits of hemp without the onerous and outdated restrictions from the federal government.”

Schumer urged his colleagues in both the House and the Senate to pass this legislation as soon as possible.  Furthermore, he said that industrial hemp has the potential to become a growing industry in the Mid-Hudson Valley and must have the full backing of the federal government – without any interference.  Sullivan County is authorized to grow more than 21 acres of Hemp, with nearby Orange and Ulster Counties authorized to grow 426 and 7 acres respectively. The Schumer-backed Hemp Farming Act of 2018 was introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and does the following:

  • Removes industrial hemp from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act
  • Empowers states to be the principal regulators of hemp
  • Allows hemp researchers to apply for competitive federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Finally, it would make hemp farmers eligible to apply for crop insurance

Industrial hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown largely for industrial uses, but it can also be utilized for food, oil, and cosmetic products. Hemp contains a very small amount, typically between 0.2 and 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and while from the same species of plant as marijuana, it has varied widely in use.  However, due to the existence of THC in hemp, Schumer explained, both plants are considered “controlled substances” under the current federal law, meaning the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is the current primary regulator for hemp production. Schumer said this narrow view has undermined the crop’s agricultural and economic potential and he vowed to work with his colleagues in both the Senate and the House to pass this groundbreaking legislation which is solely focused on investing in industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity.

Schumer continued: “Labeling hemp as a controlled substance is preventing industrial hemp from being a real game-changer for counties from Sullivan County to Louisville, Kentucky.  Which is exactly why I am proud to support this bill and bring hemp into the forefront as an agricultural commodity for producers here at The Center for Discovery, SUNY Sullivan and all over the Hudson Valley.  I will work in lockstep with Senators McConnell and Wyden to make sure this bill passes the Senate.”

Schumer said the crop has massive economic potential for Sullivan County, the Mid-Hudson Valley and beyond. According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States is one of the largest importers of Hemp products, with annual sales well beyond $600 million, and most of it coming from Canada. Schumer said the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 could pay big dividends to farmers in Sullivan County and throughout the Hudson Valley, who like The Center for Discovery, see hemp’s potential as a job-creating product for industrial uses only. 

Schumer was joined by Patrick Dollard, The Center for Discovery President & CEO, Jay Quaintance, SUNY Sullivan President, Joshua Potosek, Sullivan County Manager, Luis Alvarez, Chairman of the Sullivan County Legislature and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

“We see great potential for hemp cultivation, especially with Sullivan County’s rich agricultural history and SUNY Sullivan’s commitment to educating tomorrow’s sustainability leaders. Our state-authorized hemp pilot program has already provided our faculty and students with unique opportunities to collaborate with The Center for Discovery’s organic and biodynamic farm, and we see tremendous opportunities for further education, training, and economic development. We applaud Senator Schumer and the other co-sponsors of this legislation for leading the way at the federal level,” said SUNY Sullivan President Jay Quaintance.

“At The Center for Discovery, we’ve been innovating in agriculture for nearly as long as we’ve been innovating in healthcare. To deny our hardworking farmers the opportunity to grow a crop like hemp, with so many practical and powerful applications, benefits no one. Some of hemp’s benefits, like fiber and textiles, are already clear. But as healthcare providers for some of our country’s most vulnerable individuals, we at The Center are most excited to see what medical doors may be opened if we allow our farmers to further develop this crop. We are closely monitoring research into hemp’s potential medicinal benefits, with the hope that it may provide new treatments to debilitating disorders, like seizures. We hope our lawmakers will stand in support of progress and allow further production and use of hemp,” said Patrick H. Dollard, President & CEO, The Center for Discovery.

Schumer said The Center for Discovery is the largest employer in Sullivan County, with more than 1,600 employees, and was one of the first in the state to grow hemp.  The SUNY Sullivan and The Center for Discovery partnership was one of the original 10 sites permitted under New York State’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program, which has expanded to include 62 other farms and businesses, nine of which are located in the Mid-Hudson Valley region. Schumer explained that SUNY Sullivan and The Center for Discovery intends to start growing hemp in the greenhouse later this month and then out in the field in June. According to Schumer, the partnership with SUNY Sullivan and local farmers from the Center for Discovery to study how the use of “biodynamic methods” affect the quality and composition of hemp plants. For this reason, Schumer said researchers and students urgently need the support of the federal government through grants and other investments via the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, to continue their groundbreaking research.

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