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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo answers reporters' questions during a 2014 emergency question session.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority of NY

During a ceremony at Cornell University, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an expanded hemp bill into law, categorizing the crop as an agricultural commodity, giving it the same protections as any other crop grown in the state, the Ithaca Journal reports. The measure will permit industrial hemp research and hemp companies access to the state’s economic development arm.

During the bill signing, Cuomo said he believed that “hemp production has tremendous economic advantages for whatever state is the first to really grow that market” and he was eager for the New York “to be the first to grow that market.”

“One of our main focuses is to continue to grow the economy, drive the economy and create jobs; and one of the main economic engines of this state is agriculture, and we want to be at the cutting edge of agricultural development for the economy,” the Democratic governor said.

At a press conference following the signing, Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball announced that the state will invest $10 million into the new industry, earmarking half for research and half for processing and commercialization. Ball indicated that the state is importing 53,000 pounds of industrial hemp, which will cover 1,700 acres of land. State officials hope to have 20,000 acres of hemp growing in the state by 2022.

The bill creates a hemp seed certification program to ensure the products are compliant under the 2014 Federal Farm Bill – which defines hemp plants as containing 0.3 percent THC – and to ensure intellectual property rights are protected.

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