Yes. Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same plant species, and cannot be distinguished visually. THC testing is required differentiate between hemp and marijuana.
MDAR will be testing the crop prior to harvest in order to ensure that the crop contains less than 0.3% THC.
Does hemp look like marijuana?
Plants in the genus Cannabis contain unique compounds called cannabinoids. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids produced by cannabis plants. The most notable of these cannabinoids is delta 9- tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. THC is the primary psychoactive compound found in marijuana. While marijuana plants contain high levels of THC (typically between 5-25%), the varieties used for hemp contain very little. To be considered hemp, the cannabis plants must contain no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis.
The method we use is called high-performance liquid chromatography, or HPLC. As hemp in Massachusetts is defined as “The plant of the genus cannabis and any part of the plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 THC concentration that does not exceed 0.3 per cent on a dry weight basis or per volume or weight of marijuana product or the combined per cent of delta-9-THC and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCa) in any part of the plant of the genus cannabis regardless of moisture content”, we test for the total THC using the following formula: delta-9 THC + (THCa * 0.877). This method, or a similar one that uses decarboxylation, is required under the 2018 Farm Bill.
Hemp and marijuana are different varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa L. Hemp is a non- psychoactive variety of the plant specifically cultivated for industrial uses. Hemp has no use as a recreational drug. Both hemp and marijuana are defined under Massachusetts law, and jurisdiction for hemp is given to the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (“MDAR”) while marijuana falls under the Cannabis Control Commission. For more information, see Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 128 , Sections 116 through 123 and Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017. Under Chapter 55 of the Acts of 2017, hemp is excluded from the definition of marijuana and defined separately both there and within Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 128, Section 116 so for the purposes of state law there is also a legal distinction between the two.
The 2018 Farm Bill also retained the power of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)to regulate CBD’s therapeutic claims, labeling, and its use as a food additive. The FDA maintains its stance that even hemp-derived CBD may not be used as an additive to food and beverages or marketed as a dietary supplement. The FDA also has yet to revise its rules or specifically regulate CBD products, which has led to confusion about CBD legality. The FDA has been particularly strict on CBD regulations when it comes to health claims that could be construed as medical advice.
That changed with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp cultivation and created a path to remove hemp from Schedule 1 by creating a legal distinction between hemp and marijuana. Under the legislation, hemp is classified as cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC by weight, while marijuana is cannabis that contains more than 0.3% THC. The bill effectively removed hemp-derived CBD’s status as a Schedule 1 substance. However, because marijuana retained its schedule classification, marijuana-derived CBD is still considered federally illegal. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp an agricultural commodity and required it to be produced and sold under regulations that implement the bill, which have yet to be enacted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Massachusetts CBD laws
Cannabidiol is one of the primary cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, second only to THC. Unlike THC, CBD is non-intoxicating and offers potential therapeutic benefits, including anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, analgesic, and seizure-suppressing properties.
But purchasing CBD products from a retailer isn’t the only option. Because hemp-derived CBD is now federally legal, consumers can also purchase CBD products online.
Under current FDA regulations, CBD oil and other hemp-derived CBD products cannot make any therapeutic or medical claims on their labels.