Binghamton University will be one of four New York schools to begin researching the chemical properties of hemp as part of the state’s Industrial Hemp Research Pilot Program.

According to a recent announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the University, alongside SUNY Sullivan, Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Morrisville State College, has received a special permit from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. This permit will allow hemp to be grown in cooperation with local farmers.

According to Gloria Meredith, founding dean of the BU School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS), the permit will be used to research cannabidiol, a chemical found in hemp.

“Binghamton University is excited to explore hemp-related research that aims to create medicines and products that improve the lives of New Yorkers,” Meredith said. “This area of research has great potential.”

In order to grow the hemp, SOPPS will be partnering with Nanticoke Gardens, a greenhouse located in Endicott, New York. Scientists at SOPPS will work with Nanticoke Gardens to ensure that the hemp is being grown properly, and will extract cannabidiol from the plants.

Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, a chemical found in marijuana, cannabidiol is not psychoactive. Research has indicated that cannabidiol may have health benefits and medical uses, including helping people with Dravet syndrome, a type of epilepsy that is difficult to treat.

In addition, the seeds and stalks of hemp can be used to produce a variety of products, such as clothing, paper and building materials. In 2015, the hemp industry generated about $573 million in sales. According to Cuomo, the pilot program aims to push the state into this industry and create economic opportunities for New Yorkers.

“Agriculture remains a key driver in New York’s economy and we are continuing to explore new ways to provide support for this industry to spur growth in communities across the state,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Expanding New York’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program will create a synergy of growth between some of this state’s top-notch colleges, universities and private farms and encourage more growers to explore the potential economic opportunities associated with this crop.”

Areas in the Southern Tier and the Hudson Valley could benefit from the hemp industry and the pilot program, as these areas of the state have an ideal climate for hemp growth. According to Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, hemp research could help bring new agricultural economic opportunities to the Binghamton area.

“I am very happy to see that Binghamton University and Sullivan County Community College have received Industrial Hemp Pilot Research permits,” Lupardo said in a statement. “Binghamton University’s research proposal is a strong public and private partnership between their new school of pharmacy and Nanticoke Gardens, one of the area’s premier greenhouses. I always envisioned industrial hemp as a major agricultural and manufacturing opportunity for New York state and the Southern Tier in particular; these new research permits are a major step in that direction.”

Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said that the emerging hemp industry could also enhance the healthcare and medical industry in the Southern Tier through an influx of new research.

“With the addition of Binghamton University’s planned research on industrial hemp, the Southern Tier has a great opportunity to capitalize on this nascent industry,” Garnar said in a statement. “We look forward to the work of the new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and their innovative research capabilities, which will have great potential to grow the agricultural industry and impact the medical field.”