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Bill filed in Mass. House would make CBD legal in food, cosmetics, and more

The exterior of the Hempest CBD shop on Newbury Street.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

A bill filed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on Thursday would clear up statewide confusion around the legality of CBD, putting to rest concerns from consumers and hemp cultivators that their CBD products could be seized or their growing licenses revoked.

The legislation, if passed, would effectively reverse recent guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and Department of Public Health that have prohibited the use of hemp-derived CBD in food or in any products that make medicinal or therapeutic claims.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a nonpsychoactive compound that can be found in marijuana and hemp, two varieties of the same plant. CBD that comes from marijuana is considered legal in Massachusetts and is overseen by the state Cannabis Control Commission. CBD from hemp, however, has operated in a gray area for months, if not years.


The hemp plant itself was legalized when the 2018 Farm Bill was signed, but recent guidance from the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees the regulation of CBD, has declared CBD illegal for now, spurring on a variety of restrictive state guidances such as the ones released by the Massachusetts agencies this month.

“It’s pointless to grow hemp or any other crop and not be able to sell it,” said Steve Bevan, the chair of the US Hemp Roundtable, which helped craft the federal Farm Bill and has helped many states file legislation like the bill filed in Massachusetts. “We hope this legislation will help alleviate this disconnect between regulatory confusion and the farmers’ best interests.”

The bill would declare that hemp-derived cannabinoids, including CBD, are not controlled substances and therefore are allowed to be grown and sold with proper oversight and licensing from the state. The bill also declares that products containing CBD “intended for ingestion are to be considered foods, not controlled substances or adulterated products.”


Cosmetics and other personal products would also be allowed.

“Notwithstanding any other law, derivatives of hemp, including hemp-derived cannabidiol, may be added to cosmetics, personal care products, and products intended for human and animal consumption, and such an addition is not considered an adulteration of such products,” the bill states.

State Representative Mark Cusack, who filed the bill, did not respond to requests for comment.

Jim Borghesani, the former spokesman for the 2016 ballot initiative that legalized recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, commended Cusack for “moving forward in a way that addresses the untenable structure that we’re seeing now regarding hemp-derived CBD.”

“It seems that Mark Cusack’s legislation is basically going to harmonize what sort of right now is a dissonant approach,” he said.

Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.