Oversight of Industrial Hemp (Follow-Up)

Issued Date
July 16, 2021
Agriculture and Markets, Department of


To determine the extent of implementation of the three recommendations included in our initial audit report Oversight of Industrial Hemp (Report 2018-S-32).

About the Program

Industrial hemp is an expanding commodity in the United States, as both the stalk and seed can be used to produce thousands of different products, including clothing, building materials, fuel, paper, and biodegradable plastics. Federal and State law define industrial hemp as any part of the Cannabis sativa L. plant with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3%. On February 7, 2014, the Agricultural Act of 2014 was signed into federal law and, in part, authorized institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture to grow or cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes. In response, Article 29 of New York’s Agriculture and Markets Law was enacted, launching the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program (Program). The Department of Agriculture and Markets (Department), through its Division of Plant Industry, administers the Program. Our initial audit report, covering the period April 1, 2016 through May 31, 2019, found that, while the Program had rapidly expanded opportunities for industrial hemp production in the State, the Department did not always follow established practices when reviewing applications, conducting inspections, and sampling plants. According to the Department, staffing shortages and competing priorities affected its ability to inspect and sample participants. Incomplete records and unreliable data systems further hindered the Department’s ability to effectively monitor Program requirements. Because of these and other weaknesses, we concluded that the Department needed to improve its monitoring of Program compliance by taking steps to improve the quality of Program data and performing comprehensive analytics of the data, which would enable the Department to better allocate staff resources. In addition, we found the Department needed to develop clear and consistent procedures for several aspects of the Program.

Key Findings

Department officials made progress in addressing the problems we identified in the initial audit report. Of the initial report’s three audit recommendations, one has been fully implemented and two have been partially implemented.

Key Recommendation

Officials are given 30 days after the issuance of the follow-up review to provide information on any actions that are planned to address the unresolved issues discussed in this review.

Brian Reilly

State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Brian Reilly
Phone: (518) 474-3271; Email: [email protected]
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236