Hemp plants

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Hemp Program released a policy statement in June that provides notice of categories of hemp-derived products that are approved for sale in the Commonwealth and identifies products that are prohibited.

The policy also describes how a person or entity may become licensed to sell under state law (Ch. 128, Sec. 118).

All proposed activities related to the sale of hemp-derived products must comply with the policy. All activities related to marijuana or the sale of any product containing marijuana remain under the jurisdiction of the Cannabis Control Commission or law enforcement.

The cultivation, processing and sale of hemp in Massachusetts are regulated by both federal and state law. As a result of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, referred to as the “2018 Farm Bill,” federal law treats hemp as an agricultural commodity, distinguished from marijuana except under limited circumstances.

While states await further regulations and guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture on how to develop, expand and implement hemp programs within their jurisdictions, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources policy identifies what is allowed in the Commonwealth at this time.

The MDAR policy follows a statement recently released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that limits the types of cannabis-derived products that can be manufactured and sold to consumers. In particular, the FDA has prohibited any food or other consumable products containing the cannabinoid known as CBD from interstate commerce without its approval. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health also issued guidance recently prohibiting the sale of any product containing CBD oils derived from hemp.

Local boards of health have the authority to enforce public health laws and regulations within a municipality.

The MDAR policy prompted a recently formed coalition of Massachusetts hemp farmers, businesses, advocates and consumers to protest outside the State House demanding that the MDAR clarify the legality of hemp products. A bill filed by Rep. Mark Cusack (HD 4339) and backed by the coalition would declare hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, not to be controlled substances or adulterants and would allow CBD to be added to foods, cosmetics, personal care products, and products intended for human or animal consumption.

Download Hemp Program policy statement (247K PDF)
Visit MDAR Hemp Program website
Visit Department of Public Health website for FAQs regarding CBD in food manufactured or sold in Massachusetts

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