Bulletin | Obtaining and Using Hemp Products | October 10, 2023
To: Marijuana Establishments and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers
From: Shawn Collins, Executive Director, Cannabis Control Commission | Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources
Date: October 10, 2023
Subject: Marijuana Establishment and Medical Marijuana Treatment Center Compliance Obligations regarding Obtaining and Using Hemp Products
The Cannabis Control Commission (“Commission”) and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“MDAR”) are issuing this joint bulletin to Commission-licensed Marijuana Establishments (“ME”) and Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (“MTC”) to provide necessary information regarding their compliance obligations when using hemp products.
- ME/MTCs can only obtain hemp from MDAR Licensees.
- There are some prohibitions on the type of hemp products that ME/MTCs can obtain even from MDAR Licensees.
- ME/MTCs can only obtain certain hemp or hemp products if labeled and tested appropriately by MDAR standards.
- After use of hemp or hemp products to make Marijuana Products, the final Marijuana Product is also subject to Commission testing and labeling standards.
What are some common questions?
- What is hemp?
By definition, hemp is the plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, with a delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis or per volume or weight of marijuana product or the combined percent of delta–9–tetrahydrocannabinol and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid in any part of the plant of the genus Cannabis, regardless of moisture content. This shall include the seeds of the plant and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers.
This means that hemp and marijuana are the same plant but differentiated legally by the THC content. Cannabis plants may only lawfully be called “hemp plants” if they are certified by the appropriate entity under state and federal law. In Massachusetts that is MDAR, and the plant must contain less than 0.3% Total THC (combined delta-9 THC and THCa).
- Where can ME/MTCs purchase hemp products for use or sale?
Products purchased or sold by an ME/MTC must comply with M.G.L. c. 94G, Section 12(f). This means that hemp products may only come from an MDAR Licensed Hemp Producer or Processor and may not be obtained from any other source. Please note that MDAR does not license out-of-state entities that produce or process hemp outside of Massachusetts and does not license individual products.
- What kinds of hemp products are prohibited in MA?
The Federal Drug Administration (“FDA”) has determined that certain cannabis-derived products may not be manufactured and sold under the Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act. This includes products that are made from hemp. Additional information is available here: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd
Additionally, products manufactured from hemp in Massachusetts or sold at retail must comply the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (“DPH”) regulations for the manufacture and sale of food products. More information is available here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/cbd-in-food-manufactured-or-sold-in-massachusetts
MDAR requires that hemp products manufactured in MA comply with FDA and DPH requirements. Therefore, certain types of hemp products are PROHIBITED from being sold in MA. An ME/MTC cannot purchase or sell the following types of prohibited hemp products:
- Food products containing CBD derived from hemp (food includes beverages).
- Any product containing CBD derived from hemp that makes therapeutic/medicinal claims.
- Any product that contains hemp as dietary supplement; and
- Animal food/treats containing any hemp.
- Does an ME/MTC need another license from MDAR to use hemp as an ingredient in marijuana products?
No. An MDAR Hemp Processor License is not required for an ME/MTC that wants to purchase hemp or hemp-derived products from an MDAR Hemp Licensee for use as an ingredient in a marijuana product. However, any such product may not be marketed, labeled, or sold as hemp. ME/MTCs may purchase raw, unprocessed hemp, including flower, and unfinished hemp-derived extracts for use as an ingredient in marijuana products but these ingredients must be obtained from an individual or entity that is licensed with the MDAR Hemp Program.
- What kinds of hemp products can an ME/MTC sell?
Finished hemp products as set forth in https://www.mass.gov/policy-statement/sale-of-hemp-derived-products-in-the-commonwealth including raw flower packaged, labeled and ready for sale that were packaged or manufactured by an MDAR Hemp Licensee in compliance with M.G.L. c. 128, Sections 116 through 123 and the guidance issued by MDAR.
- How can an ME/MTC ensure that they are purchasing compliant hemp products for use or sale?
Products purchased or sold by an ME/MTC shall comply with M.G.L. c. 94G Section 12(f). This means that hemp products may only come from an MDAR Licensed Hemp Producer or Processor and may not be obtained from any other source. MDAR Hemp Processors are subject to mandatory labeling and testing requirements when manufacturing their products. When deciding to purchase hemp/hemp-derived products, ME/MTCs can use the compliance checklist in the next section to help determine if the products meet all compliance requirements.
Finished marijuana products utilizing hemp must also comply with guidance issued by the Commission: Guidance on Hemp.
Best Practices to Ensure Compliance
Preparing to obtain Hemp Product Compliance Checklist:
- Verify MDAR License Status: (hemp products may only be obtained by active MDAR Licensees)
- Verify MDAR License Number online: (Updated monthly, as needed).
- Request physical copy of MDAR License.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for verification.
- Verify Product Labels: (hemp products obtained by active MDAR Licensees must include the following product labels)
- Manufacturer Name (must be MDAR Licensee)
- MDAR License Number
- Batch Number
- Cannabinoid Profile (must list at minimum, CBD, CBDA, D9-THC, and THCA)
- State of Product Origin
- Statement: “This product derived from Hemp has not been tested, analyzed, or approved by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources or the FDA.”
- Verify Product Testing Compliance: (all products must be tested in compliance with the Protocol for Sampling and Analysis of Finished Medical Marijuana Products and Marijuana-infused Products)
- Potency testing
- Contaminant testing
- Certificate of Analysis (COA) issued by a Commission-licensed Independent Testing Laboratory that indicates the hemp product passed the full-panel testing standards for Marijuana Products.
- Verify Product Type: (if any of the following boxes are checked, the product is PROHIBITED in Massachusetts)
- Food products containing CBD derived from hemp.
- Any product containing CBD derived from hemp that makes therapeutic or medicinal claims.
- Any product that contains hemp as dietary supplement, and
- Animal food/treats containing any hemp.
This process outlines the first steps of obtaining hemp from an MDAR Licensee. Once obtained in an ME/MTC, Licensees should refer to guidance issued by the CCC: Guidance on Hemp.
This guidance is not legal advice. It was created with the intent of assisting CCC Licensees to navigate the purchase and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products from MDAR Licensees in accordance with applicable statutes, regulation, and policies. Please consult an attorney if you have any questions regarding any legal requirements that may apply.
Are there other resources that would be helpful?
Where should I go if I have questions or concerns?
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