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Hemp CBD Coming to Massachusetts Dispensaries

New guidelines for the popular cannabinoid could greatly benefit the state's hemp farmers and manufacturers.

Elsa Olofsson

Hemp products created in Massachusetts can now be sold in the state’s Cannabis shops. The rule change is laid out in the new state budget approved by Gov. Charlie Baker.

While hemp-derived CBD continues to be remarkably popular among consumers, hemp cultivators and manufacturers in Massachusetts have had a difficult time capitalizing on the trendy products, as the state had barred them from using their crops to create CBD edibles and selling those products to dispensaries. 

Under Massachusetts’s marijuana law, dispensaries can only purchase products that contain cannabinoids from companies licensed by the Cannabis Control Commission. The state’s Department of Agricultural Resources is responsible for licensing hemp cultivators and manufacturers. 

The new rules would amend the law to allow the 79 farmers and 19 processors licensed to operate in the state to sell hemp-derived CBD ingestibles (food, drinks and supplements) to dispensaries, which could lead to a windfall.

Massachusetts launched its recreational retail program in 2018 with two stores initially serving the entire state. Since then, 82 additional stores have received official approval to operate in the Bay State, and another 201 rec shops are currently working through the licensing and compliance procedure. In less than two years, the state recorded $1 billion in adult-use Cannabis sales. It reached the marijuana milestone in October 2020 – just 23 months after retail sales began in November 2018.

Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton), who sponsored the budget amendment allowing sales of hemp products, explained that, “Unless this necessary first step is taken, Massachusetts hemp farmers and processors will continue to be unfairly locked out of the market here and face financial and personal ruin.”

While opening up legal sales of hemp-derived CBD should provide a long-awaited boon for growers and processors, the new provision is a plus for Massachusetts dispensaries as well, as retailers will be able to provide a more affordable CBD offering to clients. And the popularity of such products ensures plenty of interest from the canna-curious and experienced consumers alike.

Without federal guidance on the sale of hemp products, states have begun to adopt their own rules. In the last year, more than a dozen states have OK’d the sale of hemp-derived CBD through licensed Cannabis retailers, including New York, Colorado and Illinois.

Like Massachusetts, New York recently lifted its ban on hemp CBD in consumables. However, potency caps and other restrictions make the Empire State’s rules regarding hemp-derived products among the strictest in the country.