Special Report

Cannabis and the Legal Industry: New Rules, New Risks, New Opportunities

The state-by-state legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use has created a complicated legal landscape—and with it new demands for lawyers to responsibly advise cannabis clients and companies in adjacent industries. This special report features Law.com's in-depth coverage of emerging legal issues, key regulatory developments, and the lawyers who are helping to shape a new industry.


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Much of the discussion this past legislative session focused on the legalization (or expanded decriminalization) of “adult-use” cannabis. However, one piece of cannabis legislation flew under the radar. A bill establishing a new regulatory framework for one of the state’s fastest growing industries successfully navigated its way through both houses of the New York State Legislature. But unlike adult-use cannabis, this type of cannabis will not get you “high.” We’re talking about hemp, of course, and hemp-derived cannabinoids—the most recognizable of which is cannabidoil or “CBD.”

On the final day of New York’s legislative session, the Legislature passed bill A7680-A/S6184-A. If signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo, this legislation will establish one of the most comprehensive regulatory frameworks for hemp and hemp extracts in the country. The legislation was introduced this past January as part of Cuomo’s proposed budget and sponsored by State Senator Jennifer Metzger (D-42) and Assembly member Donna Lupardo (D-123). As of the date of this article, the legislation has not yet been delivered to the governor for his signature or veto.

If enacted, bill A7680-A / S6184-A could significantly impact the burgeoning hemp industry in New York by adding new regulatory requirements. Here’s a summary of some of the legislation’s more notable provisions.

License Requirements

First, the legislation requires all cannabinoid growers, manufacturers and extractors to obtain a license through the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets (the department). The legislation also requires a license for any cannabinoid products intended for “human or animal consumption or use,” the latter term not being defined. The cannabinoid extractor license is the most comprehensive, permitting the licensee to acquire, possess, manufacture and extract hemp for products intended for human and animal use. Licenses will be renewed on a biennial basis, and licensed premises are subject to random inspection by the department.

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