• New York law allows individuals and businesses to grow, extract, manufacture, handle, and sell industrial hemp and hemp-derived products in the state, including CBD oil(1).
  • Article 33-B of the New York State Public Health Law defines industrial hemp as Cannabis sativa plants with less than 0.3% THC.
  • The New York State Department of Health proposed regulations to allow hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoids in food and drinks(2).
  • In New York, anyone over 18 years old may purchase CBD products. Proposed regulations, however, prohibit the sale of CBD vape and inhalable products to consumers below 21 years old(3).

Industrial hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil is legal in the state of New York.

New Yorkers may grow, process, and distribute industrial hemp and hemp-based products by participating in the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program.

New York state laws define hemp as Cannabis sativa plants and derivatives that contain less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration on a dry weight basis(4).

Industrial hemp comes from the same cannabis plant as marijuana. However, state and federal laws differentiate the two plants based on the THC levels.

The New York Public Health Laws define marijuana as any part of cannabis plants that are not considered hemp, cannabinoid hemp, or contain THC concentrations exceeding 0.3%(5).

Recreational use is still prohibited in New York, although the state has reduced the penalties for possessing small amounts of marijuana through the New York State Senate Bill 6579A(6).

Medical marijuana, however, is available in the state(7).

The New York State Medical Marijuana Program allows patients with certain severe health conditions to obtain a medical marijuana card and buy approved forms of cannabis(8).

Medical marijuana products may be purchased at registered dispensaries around the state. 

Note, though, that only eligible patients with a New York medical marijuana card are allowed to buy medical cannabis in the state(9)

Out-of-state medical marijuana cards are not honored at registered New York dispensaries.

New York CBD Laws

CBD has only been legal in the state of New York upon the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill.

The 2018 Farm Bill decriminalized industrial hemp and hemp-derived products and removed them from the list of Schedule I substances under the Controlled Substances Act. The bill made hemp and hemp-derived products, like CBD, legal on the federal level(10).

However, New York has initiated state policies concerning industrial hemp and marijuana since the 2014 Farm Bill passage(11).

The state also continues to amend and improve the laws governing the processing and retail of CBD products, particularly CBD-infused food and drinks(12).

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been advocating for the legalization of recreational marijuana, including it in the submitted budget proposal in January 2020.

However, the worsening of the coronavirus pandemic led to a shifting of budget priorities, and the proposal was excluded from the state’s final budget(13).

The following laws, programs, and proposed regulations play a role in providing New York residents a comprehensive set of rules regarding CBD, hemp, and marijuana: 

Compassionate Care Act (SB7923)

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act or Senate Bill 7923 into law on July 5, 2014(14).

The bill allowed patients with severe or life-threatening medical conditions to receive and use medical marijuana lawfully(15). The qualifying medical conditions include:

  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Epilepsy
  • Post-traumatic disease disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Opioid use disorder(16)

Patients with qualifying medical conditions need a certification from a medical practitioner or doctor registered under the New York State Medical Marijuana Program.

The certification is necessary to register under the program and obtain a medical marijuana card.

Patients under 18 years old may designate a parent, legal guardian, or caregiver to register and receive a medical marijuana card on their behalf(17).

Under state laws, smoking or vaping medical marijuana is still considered unlawful, whether or not the patient may purchase marijuana for medical use(18).

Other forms of cannabis products, such as capsules, tablets, oils, lotions, and transdermal patches, are allowed. 

However, practitioners must specifically indicate the form, brand, and dosage of approved medical marijuana products in the certifications or prescriptions(19).

Moreover, patients may only receive and possess up to a 30-day supply of medical marijuana.

The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) keeps a list of registered medical marijuana dispensaries on its website for ease of reference(20).

Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program 

The bill launching the New York Hemp Pilot Program was signed into law on June 11, 2014, by Governor Andrew Cuomo(21).

New York launched its Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program in 2015, a year after the 2014 Farm Bill initiatives(22), under the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM).

As the name suggests, the program allows only the cultivation and processing of industrial hemp plants for research purposes.

Individuals or parties interested in growing and cultivating hemp must apply as a program research partner(23). They must also submit a detailed hemp research plan and a summary of issues they wish to study.

In 2017, New York State removed the limits on the number of allowable sites to grow and research industrial hemp. The program was also expanded to include farmers and businesses in the research partnership(24).

The state also made two grant funding initiatives for the program.

Governor Andrew announced a total of up to $10 million in grants split between the research and production of industrial hemp and the provision of business capital costs for eligible hemp processors(25).

New York State continues to allow hemp growers to operate under the pilot program, similar to other states like North Carolina(26).

However, the New York state pilot program is slated to end on September 30, 2021, as per federal law. 

Research partners are to transition onto a new licensing scheme before the current program ends(27).

Regulation of Hemp and Hemp Extract (SB6184)

New York State lawmakers passed Senate Bill 6184 to provide a clear regulatory framework for individuals interested in processing and selling hemp and hemp-derived products in the state.

The bill was signed by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 9, 2019(28), with the program and regulations going into effect in 2020.

Under the legislation, hemp growers, processors, and product retailers must obtain state licenses and permits.

Hemp producers and extractors must comply with mandatory laboratory testing at approved independent laboratories(29).

Licensing Requirements 

New York State residents may apply for a grower, manufacturer, or extractor license provided that they are at least 18 years old(30).

All applicants undergo criminal background checks and must submit proof of good character, competency, adequate facilities and equipment, and security measures(31).

Each hemp license is subject to application and renewal fees. The licenses have a two-year expiration date starting from the date of issue.

Amending submitted applications, such as moving facilities or changing ownership, are also subject to a $250 amendment fee.

Cannabinoid grower license applicants are required to pay a per-acre license fee and a $500 nonrefundable application fee.

A hemp grower license only allows individuals to possess, cultivate, and sell raw hemp and hemp extracts.

A manufacturer or extractor’s license is necessary to process, market, and sell hemp extracts intended for human consumption.

Cannabinoid hemp retailers are also required to get licenses. However, the NYSDOH has currently stopped accepting hemp retail license applications.

As per Article 33-B of the New York State Public Health Law, hemp and CBD product retailers may postpone obtaining licenses until January 1, 2021(32).

Testing Requirements

Licensed industrial hemp or cannabinoid manufacturers and extractors must contract with third-party commercial laboratories to test their hemp extract and products.

Additionally, hemp grower license applicants must submit proof of their testing capabilities as part of their application requirements(33).

Industrial hemp producers may be subjected to random sample testing to ensure compliance to the federally mandated THC levels of no more than 0.3%.

The tests may be done on the hemp-derived products or raw hemp flower and leaf samples(34).

Buying CBD Oil in New York Legally

CBD and other hemp-derived products are legally available for purchase in licensed retail stores in New York, Brooklyn, Buffalo, Syracuse, and other cities or boroughs in New York.

Anyone older than 18 years old may buy CBD products. However, proposed regulations would require retailers to restrict the sale of CBD vaping or smoking products to consumers under 21 years old(35).

The proposed regulations also include rules on packaging, labeling, and laboratory testing standards.

Medical marijuana cards, certifications, and prescriptions are only necessary for qualified patients with severe health conditions, such as PTSD, epilepsy, and opioid use disorder.

A prescription is also necessary for individuals seeking to buy Epidiolex, the only cannabidiol-based drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)(36).

How to Choose Which CBD Products to Buy

Understanding the difference between CBD and THC is vital in choosing which CBD products to purchase.

THC and CBD are the primary phytocannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Studies suggest that both THC and CBD compounds may help with different health issues, particularly with mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety(37)

Unlike CBD, though, THC has psychoactive properties that can induce a high among users. Moreover, constant and excessive use of THC-rich products and marijuana may lead to dependence or substance addiction(38).

The risk of getting high and triggering an addiction is one contributing factor to the stricter federal and state regulations around marijuana.

Products with THC content exceeding 0.3% in dry weight are considered to be marijuana and therefore illegal. These products may only be bought by qualified medical marijuana cardholders at licensed dispensaries(39).

CBD, cannabis, and other industrial hemp-based products are available in different forms. New York residents may choose from tinctures, oils, topicals, and capsules, among other product types.

Specific forms of CBD may offer more significant therapeutic health benefits. For instance, studies suggest using topical CBD products to address joint and muscle pain(40).

Different forms of CBD may also have different absorption rates and benefits.

For example, full-spectrum CBD may be preferred by many experienced users due to the “entourage effect,” or how the wide range of cannabinoids present in the product helps enhance each component’s effects(41).

CBD edibles, such as CBD gummies and CBD chocolates, are also popular ways of taking CBD.

However, note that as of November 2020, the state of New York still prohibits the use and sale of hemp-derived CBD as a food additive.

Proposed regulations released in October 2020 seek to grant legality to CBD-infused food and drinks. The proposal would allow up to 25mg of cannabinoids in food and beverage products(42).

While the proposed regulations are still unapproved, it may be safer for consumers to avoid CBD gummies, CBD drinks, and other CBD-infused food and beverages.

The NYSDOH advises consumers to carefully inspect product labels and packaging to ensure they are getting high-quality, authentic, and legal CBD products(43).

The department notes that consumers should always check the necessary information, such as:

  • Amount of cannabinoids or CBD per serving (CBD potency)
  • Manufacturer, distributor, or brand name
  • Batch or lot number
  • Suggested use and recommended dosage or serving size
  • THC concentration levels

Before making a purchase, consumers must research CBD brands selling only quality CBD products.

Brands with a Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation and positive customer reviews or consumer reports may be the better choice than brands with little to no online presence.

Where to Buy CBD Products Legally

Industrial hemp-derived CBD products are available at licensed retailers, including health food stores and markets. Many CBD brands also sell their products online.

Meanwhile, cannabis-derived CBD products may only be purchased at registered medical marijuana dispensaries in different counties across the state(44).

Physical shops and market outlets may ask customers to show proof of age before selling them hemp-derived CBD products. Registered dispensaries require customers to show their medical marijuana card and prescription.

Consumers can look for the best CBD brands in New York by visiting the BBB website.

The following CBD brands and stores are highly-rated by the BBB:

  • Plant People Inc. in Chinatown, N.Y. (with the main office in New York City)
  • Chico’s Oils LLC in Valley Cottage, N.Y.
  • BKLYN CBD in Brooklyn, N.Y.


The retail, purchase, and use of CBD oil and other products derived from industrial hemp plants are lawful under New York laws.

The legality of CBD and cannabinoid hemp-derived products lies in the THC content of the plants and products. Under both state laws, products with more than 0.3% THC concentration on a dry weight basis are considered marijuana and illegal for recreational use.

New York State permits the sale of different kinds of CBD products, excluding CBD vape or smoking products and CBD-infused food.

Recently proposed regulations from the NYSDOH seek to lighten restrictions on CBD use in food and beverages.

Despite the many studies on CBD’s use for therapeutic relief and its purported health benefits, the NYSDOH still advises consumers to be cautious when buying CBD products to ensure their safety and overall well-being.

  1. The New York State Senate. Article 33-B: Regulation of Cannabinoid Hemp and Hemp Extract Section 3398. The laws of New York – consolidated laws – public health. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PBH/3398 
  2. New York State Governor. (2020, Oct. 28). Governor Cuomo Announces Proposed Regulations for Cannabinoid Hemp Products. https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-proposed-regulations-cannabinoid-hemp-products
  3. New York State Department of Health. Proposed regulations – Summary of Express Terms. Retrieved from https://regs.health.ny.gov/sites/default/files/proposed-regulations/20-21hemp.pdf
  4. The New York State Senate. Article 33-B Regulation of Cannabinoid Hemp and Hemp Extract Section 3398 Definitions. Op. Cit.
  5. The New York State Senate. Article 33: Controlled Substances Title 1: General Provisions Section 3302. https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/PBH/3302
  6. The New York State Senate. (2019, June 20). Senate Decriminalizes Marijuana Use In New York State. Newsroom. https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/senate-decriminalizes-marijuana-use-new-york-state
  7. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information S07923. https://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?default_fld=&leg_video=&bn=S07923&term=2013&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Text=Y
  8. New York State Department of Health. New York State Medical Marijuana Program  Frequently Asked Questions. https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/faq.htm
  9. Ibid.
  10. Hudak, J. (2018, Dec. 14). The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An explainer. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
  11. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information A09140. https://nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=&bn=A09140&term=2013&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Text=Y
  12. New York State Governor. (2020, Oct. 28). Op. Cit.
  13. Marijuana Policy Project. (2020, April 16). Legalization stalls as COVID-19 upends 2020 legislative session. Retrieved from https://www.mpp.org/states/new-york/
  14. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information S07923. Op. Cit.
  15. New York State Department of Health. New York State Medical Marijuana Program  Frequently Asked Questions. Op. Cit.
  16. New York State Department of Health. (2018, June 18). New York State Department of Health Announces Opioid Use to be Added as a Qualifying Condition for Medical Marijuana. 2018 Press Releases. https://www.health.ny.gov/press/releases/2018/2018-06-18_opioid_use.htm
  17. New York State Department of Health. New York State Medical Marijuana Program  Frequently Asked Questions. Op. Cit.
  18. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information S07923. Op. Cit.
  19. New York State Department of Health. New York State Medical Marijuana Program  Frequently Asked Questions. Op. Cit.
  20. New York State Department of Health. (2020, Nov.) New York State Medical Marijuana Program Registered Organization Locations. https://www.health.ny.gov/regulations/medical_marijuana/application/selected_applicants.htm
  21. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information A09140. Op. Cit. 
  22. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Hemp. https://www.usda.gov/topics/hemp
  23. New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program Guidance Document. Retrieved from https://agriculture.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/10/hemp_program_guidance_2021.pdf
  24. New York State Empire State Development. Industrial Hemp Research Initiative in New York State. https://esd.ny.gov/industrial-hemp
  25. Ibid.
  26. North Carolina Department of Agriculture. Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in North Carolina. https://www.ncagr.gov/hemp/
  27. New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program Guidance Document. Op. Cit.
  28. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information S06184. https://www.nyassembly.gov/leg/?default_fld=%0D%0A&leg_video=&bn=S06184a&term=2019&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Text=Y
  29. Ibid.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Ibid.
  32. New York State Department of Health. Information for Retailers. Retrieved from https://health.ny.gov/regulations/hemp/retailers.htm
  33. New York State Department of Health. Cannabinoid Hemp Program Information for Retailers. https://health.ny.gov/regulations/hemp/retailers.htm
  34. New York State Assembly. Bill Search and Legislative Information S06184. Op. Cit.
  35. New York State Department of Health. Proposed regulations – Summary of Express Terms. Op. Cit.
  36. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2020). FDA regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD). https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd 
  37. Casarett, D. J., Beliveau, J. N., & Arbus, M. S. (2019). Benefit of Tetrahydrocannabinol versus Cannabidiol for Common Palliative Care Symptoms. Journal of palliative medicine, 22(10), 1180–1184. https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2018.0658
  38. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020, July). Marijuana Research Report: Is Marijuana Addictive? https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-addictive
  39. New York State Department of Health. (2020, Nov.). Op. Cit.
  40. Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England), 20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818 
  41. Ferber, S.G., Namdar, D., Hen-Shoval, D., Eger, G., Koltai, H., Shoval, G., Shbiro, L., Weller, A. (2020). The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324885/
  42. New York State Department of Health. Proposed regulations – Summary of Express Terms. Op. Cit.
  43. New York State Department of Health. Cannabinoid Hemp Program Information for Consumers. https://health.ny.gov/regulations/hemp/consumers.htm
  44. New York State Department of Health. (2020, Nov.). Op. Cit.
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