New York Cannabis Programs

Justin Meinken
Liz Cramer Ernst (L) Andrew Rosner, David Falkowski, Steve Halton, Dale Deutsch (R).

David Falkowski, president of Open Minded Organics LLC, hosted an event on Saturday, February 8, to provide information about the cannabis programs emerging in New York state. A panel of speakers discussed the different industry and production opportunities for farmers on Long Island and sought to clarify some of the federal legislation and New York State regulations related to cannabis.

The standing-room-only event was held at the Wamponamon Masonic Lodge in Sag Harbor and was open to legislators, politicians, law enforcement, trade associations, and community members. Attendees included Suffolk County Legislator Bridget Fleming and Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.

According to Steve Halton, president of CNY Hemp Processing Inc., hemp can replace thousands of traditional materials used in manufacturing today. While hemp is from the cannabis plant, its THC content is less than 0.3 percent and does not have the potency to get an individual high. Hemp stalks, however, can be used to produce textiles, building materials, industrial products, and energy and environmental products, just to name a few. There is evidence of the use of hemp products dating back more than 10,000 years and it is believed to have been one of the first crops ever cultivated, Halton stated.

Cannabis and the products that can be yielded from its production should be considered as “a national industry and needs to become a national mindset,” stated Andrew Rosner, vice president of the New York Cannabis Growers and Processors Association. Principal of his own family farm, Rosner spoke about hemp, cannabinoids, the New York Hemp Extract Bill, and the USDA’s interim hemp rules. He also provided definitions and clarifications of the rulings and explained their implications for the farmers of New York. In addition, Rosner presented an analysis of New York state’s proposed Cannabis Regulation & Taxation Act and adult use of recreational marijuana.

In addition, Rob Carpenter, administrative director of the Long Island Farm Bureau spoke in support of Long Island farmers and discussed the bureau’s positions on cannabis and the regulations and rulings that are expected in New York state. Nurse practitioner Liz Cramer Ernst, owner of Hamptons Medi Spa and a NYS Medical Cannabis Practitioner through the NYS Medical Cannabis Program then spoke of the medicinal benefits of cannabis and her experience with treating patients. Medical cannabis is regulated under the Compassionate Care Act signed into law in 2014 by Governor Andrew Cuomo. It is being used to treat a wide range of medical conditions some of which include cancer, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, chronic pain, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Stony Brook Professor Dr. Dale Deutsch discussed the biochemistry behind the use and effectiveness of cannabis. He is planning to offer an on-line course that will provide an extensive understanding of how cannabis works within cells and further explain its use for medicinal purposes. Open to all, the course is expected to be available in May. Additional information will be available through Stony Brook University.

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