Some Massachusetts lawmakers want to legalize food and other products made with hemp-derived cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD.
Many hemp farmers were confused and frustrated after the state released a policy statement prohibiting CBD products derived from hemp.
The new bill would essentially reverse that policy and allow those products to be grown and sold in Massachusetts.
CBD is becoming very popular as a health supplement thought to ease aches and pains and quell anxiety, among other uses. According to a recent study, the CBD market could hit $20 billion by 2024. Several stores in Massachusetts are already selling CBD products.
State Sen. Adam Hinds, a co-sponsor of the bill, said it's important for the state's hemp farmers to be able to tap into the lucrative CBD market.
"A number of farmers come to me directly and say we want to diversify our crops and this is a very valuable way of doing it," Hinds said. "And so this is in many ways getting the bureaucracy out of the way and allowing something that's legal to move forward."
Hemp cultivation was permitted in Massachusetts under the state's recreational marijuana law. And hemp production became legal at the federal level under the 2018 Farm Bill, which many hemp farmers saw as a boon to the industry.
The state has said its policy banning hemp-derived CBD products follows guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which says it's unlawful to introduce CBD into food products. Other states have also followed the FDA guidance, but some have not.
"It's disappointing that [the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources] took that approach because CBD and hemp products are not psychedelic, and they shouldn't be treated like it," said state Rep. Mark Cusack, the main sponsor of the bill.
Hemp typically has no more than 0.3% THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol -- the psychoactive component in marijuana — while marijuana has more THC.
But the new state guidance treats CBD derived from hemp differently from CBD that comes from marijuana. The state policy bans CBD that comes from hemp, which is regulated by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, while CBD that comes from marijuana is legal and regulated by the Cannabis Control Commission.
Cusack's bill aims to resolve these differences. Under the bill, hemp-derived CBD would not be considered a controlled substance, and CBD products intended for ingestion would be considered foods. The bill would also allow hemp-derived CBD in cosmetics and personal care items.