December 08, 2020 7 min read

A map showing Massachusetts and surrounding states

After hemp was legalized nationally, the CBD industry ramped up everywhere. It seems straightforward to some, but every state has the right to make their own laws about CBD, so it isn’t always clear if the products being sold are actually legal.

It’s even more confusing in states like Massachusetts where cannabis is legal for adult use, but hemp CBD laws are scarce.

Is CBD legal in Massachusetts? And if so, where can you get it?

We’d like to give a resounding “Yes!,” but it isn't that simple.

CBD is legal in Massachusetts but may be subject to various restrictions. Here’s the gist of Massachusetts CBD laws:

Table of Contents
Legal Concerns About CBD
What are the CBD laws in Massachusetts?
Is full spectrum CBD legal in Massachusetts?
Are CBD gummies legal in Massachusetts?
Does Massachusetts have a CBD possession limit?
Can doctors prescribe CBD in Massachusetts?
Where to buy CBD in Massachusetts?
Can you buy CBD in Massachusetts at 18?
Is CBD legal in all 50 states?
Resources

Disclaimer: We’re always working to stay informed on the latest CBD laws and research. However, state laws are subject to change and we advise that you do your own research to verify the information you find in this article. This is not intended as legal advice.

Key Takeaways

  • Massachusetts leans on federal regulations, meaning industrial hemp products are legal within the state. The state is awaiting USDA guidelines before filing an official hemp agriculture plan, and hemp manufacturing and sales are subject to heavy restrictions.
  • Despite legal limitations, CBD is accessible across the state. There are no minimum age requirements for buying CBD, but vendors may set the age limit as high as 21.
  • Doctors in Massachusetts may recommend CBD, but you don’t need a prescription to access it.
  • Massachusetts restricts the sales of certain types of CBD products, but the state is currently working on plans to relax these restrictions. They do not impose many regulations regarding quality or consumer safety.
  • Certain practices, like buying CBD online and properly vetting your CBD brand, may reduce the risks of buying low-quality formulas.

Legal Concerns About CBD

It’s true that CBD gained its federal legal status in 2018. The Hemp Farming Act effectively removed industrial hemp and its natural derivatives (like cannabinoids) from the Controlled Substances Act.

But there’s a catch, and it complicates things:

Legal CBD products must come from industrial hemp.

This classification is designated to hemp material that meets a strict set of standards. The most significant is that it contains less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. If CBD products are made from any cannabis strain that contains more than 0.3% THC, it is not a federally legal product.

That’s not all—

The final product must contain less than 0.3% THC, too.

That means that even if a brand starts with legal hemp material, they need to carry out careful manufacturing procedures to produce a legal end product. It’s possible for certain cannabinoids to be “concentrated” during the extraction process, leading to higher THC concentrations than in the original material. Proper manufacturing and careful testing need to be employed to avoid this issue.

Because there is very little regulation in the CBD industry, it’s important to evaluate a brand carefully before you buy. It can be hard to tell if a CBD product is made from a legal hemp source and meets the federal guidelines for legal hemp products. The best way to ensure that your CBD products are legal is by checking the third-party lab tests for cannabinoid potency.

Of course, these regulations only apply on a federal scale. You must also ensure that your products meet the standards laid out by federal guidelines and those set by your state.

Two bottles of CBD oil, and oral form of CBD that is popular in Massachusetts.

What are the CBD laws in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts is one of the few states that have yet to update all of their hemp laws to reflect changes enacted by the 2018 Farm Bill. The state has not filed a plan with the USDA for hemp agriculture within the state but seems to have no outright ban on CBD in general.

In other words, the state falls back on federal law, which technically approves of cannabidiol and other hemp constituents, provided they contain less than 0.3% THC and are derived from a legal source.

In that same light, the state released a statement clarifying that they also align with federal rulings by the FDA that prohibit the use of CBD in food and beverages. The state also does not allow hemp to be marketed as having any therapeutic or medicinal benefits. This statement is similar to the rules set in other CBD-limited states, like Georgia, Louisiana, Hawaii, and California.

For consumers, there may be little to worry about, but legal CBD may not be readily accessible across the state. There are no penalties outlined for the possession of legal CBD products that meet the requirements of the 2018 Farm Bill, but the hemp market in Massachusetts is limited by the state’s various restrictions on the types of products that can be sold.

In early 2020, the state released H4528, a reformed version of previous bills that attempted to iron out some of the state’s limitations. The bill is currently stalled, but sits favorably. If passed, it will align the state further with federal laws, but will also allow the use of CBD in cosmetics and products meant for human and animal consumption.

Is full spectrum CBD legal in Massachusetts?

It’s easy to assume that CBD isolate is legal in many places since it contains no THC, but many consumers are worried that the trace amounts of THC found in full-spectrum CBD products may cause trouble in states where cannabis is illegal.

Massachusetts places several restrictions on the types of CBD products that can be sold within the state, but has no specific restrictions on products containing trace amounts of THC, up to 0.3%. That means that full-spectrum CBD food products may not be legal, but full spectrum CBD is legal in general.

Are CBD Gummies Legal in Massachusetts?

Since CBD food items are technically banned by the state, consumers commonly ask if CBD gummies are legal in Massachusetts. There’s really no straightforward answer, but understand that the state's ban on CBD in food products generally applies to manufacturers and vendors.

The items remain accessible across the state and can be shipped to Massachusetts from online vendors. There are no penalties in place for consumers who possess industrial hemp products that align with the 2018 Farm Bill.

Does Massachusetts have a CBD possession limit?

To date, the state of Massachusetts has not highlighted possession limits for CBD products that meet legal guidelines. CBD products that contain over 0.3% THC may be classified as cannabis products, which are legal in the state, but are subject to a different set of laws and restrictions.

Can doctors prescribe CBD in Massachusetts?

In Massachusetts, you do not need a prescription to access CBD products. In fact, doctors typically cannot “prescribe” CBD products that are sold over the counter, rather they may “recommend” them. Even in states where medical marijuana is legal, access usually requires a doctor’s recommendation, not a prescription.

CBD is still new, and only one CBD product has been approved by the FDA to date. This product, GW Pharmaceuticals’ Epidiolex, is designed to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy. Aside from this product (which comes with stringent usage guidelines), many doctors are still learning about CBD. If you’re interested in the benefits of CBD, you may need to spark a conversation with your doctor.

Where to buy CBD in Massachusetts?

A handful of CBD oil capsules, which may need to be ordered online from Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, CBD products that meet state requirements can be sold by state-licensed vendors. These restrictions are similar to the CBD sales model found in other states, like Colorado and Kentucky, and they haven’t dampened CBD access in the state. You may find CBD in stores all over the state, including grocery markets and convenience stores.

Still, the state does very little to regulate product quality and consumer safety. This lack of regulation can be risky.

Buying CBD online is a suitable option for most consumers. When you buy CBD online directly from the brand, you get better oversight of the brand’s manufacturing practices. Looking at the brand’s hemp source and lab testing procedures can help ensure that the CBD products you choose are clean, potent, and meet legal guidelines.

Buying CBD directly from a brand instead of from a third-party market may also be less costly since you won’t have to pay the extra fees that are often tacked on by the middle man. Of course, premium CBD can be expensive to manufacture, so you should also be wary of products that offer low-ball prices.

Finally, buying CBD online may be the best way to access many different types of CBD. The most common type of CBD product is an oil tincture, but you can find a variety of CBD edibles, topicals, and other specialty products when you shop online.

For more information on how to find high-quality CBD products, check out our CBD Buyer’s Guide.

Can you buy CBD in Massachusetts at 18?

The legal age to buy CBD is fuzzy, even when looking at federal regulations. In theory, CBD should be accessible to people of all ages, especially since it gained its popularity as a treatment for various childhood illnesses. Of course, some products may not be suitable for people of all ages, like smokable hemp flower or CBD vaporizers.

In Massachusetts, there are no statewide regulations regarding the legal age to buy CBD. Instead, these laws may vary by jurisdiction and are more heavily impacted by the seller. Since the legal age for tobacco products has been raised to 21, many smoke shops may require users to be 21.

Many CBD brands allow customers who are 18 or older to order online and will ship legal CBD products to Massachusetts.

Is CBD legal in all 50 states?

Thanks to federal updates, CBD has the potential to be legal in every U.S. state. CBD is legal in Massachusetts according to federal guidelines, but is subject to various restrictions. Every state has different regulations regarding the manufacture and sale of CBD. Click here to find out where CBD is legal.

Resources

  1. “H.R.5485 - Hemp Farming Act of 2018” https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/5485
  2. “CBD in Food Manufactured or Sold in Massachusetts” https://www.mass.gov/info-details/cbd-in-food-manufactured-or-sold-in-massachusetts
  3. “Bill H.4528” https://malegislature.gov/Bills/191/H4528

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