Thanks to a statewide policy shift earlier this year, Bay State hemp farmers are stuck between a stem and a hard place.
A harvest season crisis has struck for newly minted hemp farmers across Massachusetts, thanks to a state law meant to fix disparities between state and federal CBD regulations.
According to a new report from the Boston Globe, Massachusetts passed a policy statement in June banning the extraction, sale, or export of industrial hemp CBD products. Hemp was legalized on a federal level in 2018, and rapidly turned into a multi-billion industry. But without any oversight or regulation from the FDA, hemp-derived CBD products are still technically illegal across the US.
And while the June policy statement was an attempt by Massachusetts legislators and state agriculture officials to bring the state in line with those still-unwritten regulations, the abrupt rule shift was a death knell for the state’s hemp farmers. Now, with harvest season bringing barns full of dried hemp, Bay State farmers are stuck between a stem and a hard place.
“Everybody is finishing the harvest, and none of us know what to do,” Linda Noel, a longtime farmer in Franklin, Massachusetts, told the Globe. “The state keeps changing the rules halfway through the game. It’s insulting.”
Noel told the Globe she was offered $100 per pound for this year’s hemp crop instead of an expected $500-900.
Gallery — Harvest Season in Photos:
Despite a total ban on locally-produced CBD products, gas stations and health stores across the state continue to sell unregulated hemp CBD products imported from other states, risking a seldom-served fine if they are caught by health authorities. For hemp farmers — whose entire businesses rely on the plant — those same risks are not worth the more severe consequences.
“We’re quickly losing sales to customers who can just order from out of state or go online,” Laura Beohner, owner of the Massachusetts-based CBD brand The Healing Rose told the Globe. “I’m the entrepreneur you want in your state — but I’ve seriously contemplated moving to Vermont or Maine because they have more sensible regulations.”
As for this year’s crop, Massachusetts hemp farmers have been restricted to selling their new harvest as cheap biomass to be used for livestock food or fuel.
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