By Emily Ledger
Earlier this year, lawmakers in New York state finally approved a cannabis legalisation bill that would allow the production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis products. As the state prepares for the introduction of legal retail sales, a senator is pushing for sustainable packaging by prioritising hemp-based alternatives to plastic.
State senator Michelle Hinchey (D) filed a bill earlier this month to push for the utilisation of hemp-based packaging as a sustainable alternative to synthetic plastics. She claims that prioritising hemp-based materials would also aid the state’s growing hemp market.
Hemp cultivation was officially legalised at the federal level with the introduction of the so-called Farm Bill in 2018. In the first year since the approval of the US Farm Bill, the number of hemp cultivation licenses more than quadrupled.
Marijuana Moment reports that, under Sen. Hinchey’s proposal, the states newly appointed Cannabis Control Board would “develop strategic plans detailing the primary use of industrial hemp for packaging and labelling requirements to be used prior to the retail sale of any cannabis or cannabis product to a cannabis consumer.”
The legislation would also kickstart a Sustainable Cannabis Packaging Incubator Program which would offer financial incentives to farmers and entrepreneurs who contribute to the development of hemp-based packaging materials.
“There is no other natural resource that offers the same environmental, agricultural, and economic potential as hemp,”
“My bill will create a market, kickstarting the industry and moving New York State to the forefront in a way that will help us tackle the climate crisis, give our small farmers a competitive edge, and boost upstate economic development”, Sen. Hinchey said.
Hemp-based plastics are not a new innovation. Research shows that hemp bioplastics are three and a half times stronger than conventional plastics that are commonly made using fossil fuels. Further, hemp is a sustainable crop that can be grown in many climates; it requires less water and often no pesticides and herbicides, unlike many other crops.
“Environmentally-safe industrialised hemp is the future of manufacturing and I look forward to getting my bill passed in the 2022 session so that New York can lead the way in this emerging market”, Sen. Hinchey concluded.
Legal retail sales of recreational cannabis products in New York are set to begin at some time in 2022.