“This is literally happening in real time,” said Martín Caballero, managing editor of the trade publication BevNET, which covers CBD foods and beverages. “This is changing constantly, and this is something that is confusing and really complex to a lot of really smart people. So this is going to take a while.”
Caballero says the state’s policy isn’t surprising given the FDA’s stance on CBD in food products. And he says those who put CBD in food and beverage products are taking a risk right now. The good news for people operating in this space is that there’s a strong appetite at the federal level to find a solution, Caballero says.
“Massachusetts residents shouldn’t worry that they’re never going to get CBD products or never going to get hemp-derived products,” Caballero said.
Some say regulators need to expand their views on CBD because the products will indeed exist — whether they’re legal or not.
“These products that they ban will easily be obtainable in the illicit market,” said Kamani Jefferson, president of the Massachusetts Recreational Consumer Council, a marijuana consumer advocacy group. “There’s a demand for these products. So thus the supply chain will continue.”
The state’s policy says those who don’t comply could face action — such as the destruction or seizure of products — from local health boards, law enforcement or state agencies. Some stores are still advertising their CBD-infused food products, as of Friday.
It’s worth noting that under both state and federal law, hemp is treated differently than marijuana. Hemp typically contains no more than 0.3% THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component in marijuana, while marijuana has more THC.
Hemp and CBD derived from hemp are regulated in the state by MDAR. CBD derived from marijuana is regulated by the Cannabis Control Commission.
So if you’re an adult, you can buy, from licensed marijuana retailers, products approved by the CCC — with a higher THC level.
To Kamani Jefferson, of the marijuana consumer council, that makes no sense.
“If THC products are allowed for folks who are 21 and up,” he said, “why are we saying CBD isn’t allowed, which doesn’t have … that psychoactive high that THC has.”