Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission Issues Draft Guidance on Hemp; Public Comments Accepted Through December 15

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Foley Hoag LLP - Cannabis and the Law

On November 23, 2021, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) released Draft Guidance on Hemp (Draft Guidance).

Pursuant to a 2020 amendment, adult-use cannabis establishments licensed by the CCC are permitted to cultivate, manufacture, and sell hemp products. This amendment did not give the CCC the authority to regulate hemp or hemp products—that authority remains with the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Food and Drug Administration—however, the CCC is permitted to issue guidance on the types of activities that cannabis establishments are permitted to pursue in relation to hemp.

The Draft Guidance separates its rules into three buckets: consumer-ready hemp products, raw hemp products, and processed hemp products. Below, we break down the guidance for each bucket.

Consumer-Ready Hemp Products

Retail establishments may purchase and sell consumer-ready hemp products from MDAR-licensed processors (which includes the licensees with license numbers ending in “P”).

The CCC will treat consumer-ready hemp products as accessories and branded goods under the CCC’s adult use regulations. This requires products to be displayed in a dedicated section of the retail store, and prohibits retailers from offering or selling the products to individuals under the age of 21.

Hemp and hemp products are not required to be tracked in the Seed-to-Sale System, although the Draft Guidance states that retailers should maintain a record of all sales.

Each consumer-ready product must also include a warning label prescribed by the CCC.

Raw Hemp Products

Raw hemp products such as flower and raw plant material which are prepackaged and include the CCC-prescribed warning label are considered consumer-ready, and retailers may sell these products directly to consumers.

However, raw hemp products that are not pre-packaged and do not include the consumer warning labels may not be sold by retailers to consumers. These raw hemp products may be sold to product manufacturers or microbusinesses for further processing into finished marijuana products as long as two requirements are met.

First, the raw hemp must be accompanied with a Certificate of Analysis issued by a licensed testing laboratory. The Certificate of Analysis must demonstrate that the product passed the full-panel testing standards for Marijuana Products, in accordance with the CCC’s testing protocols and the regulations. The establishment purchasing the hemp must maintain the Certificate of Analysis and all testing records.

Second, the finished marijuana product must not be labeled or marketed as a hemp product, but as a marijuana product. The product must comply with all requirements for marijuana products pursuant to the CCC regulations.

Processed Hemp Products

Hemp products that have been processed but not finished, such as extracts and distillates, may be sold to product manufacturers and microbusinesses for further processing into finished marijuana products.

Unfinished, processed hemp products will be subject to the same two requirements as raw hemp products: the unfinished, raw must be accompanied by a Certificate of Analysis from a licensed testing laboratory when sold, and the finished product must be labeled and marketed as a marijuana product and not a hemp product.

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The CCC is accepting public comments on the Draft Guidance through December 15, 2021 at 5PM. To submit public comments, email Commission@CCCMass.com with the subject line “Guidance on Hemp: Public Comment.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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