After three full years of hemp cultivation, Linda Noel was confident 2021 would be a success.
Those beginning years were rife with issues, including two broken contracts, an entire crop that went hot and cannabidiol (CBD) regulatory hurdles. She learned along the way, though, and hemp grown for CBD had become her primary crop at Terrapin Farm in Franklin, Mass., where she also grows tomatoes.
But Noel wouldn’t have grown hemp a fourth year if not for the MA Hemp Industry Survive and Thrive amendment included in the state’s 2021 fiscal budget. The amendment allows licensed hemp producers and processors to sell their products to medical and adult-use cannabis dispensaries in the state. Because hemp-derived CBD is only legal for sale as a topical in the state, it’d bring about a lifeline for Massachusetts’ struggling hemp industry.
That amendment passed in December and was expected to take effect March 11. But so far, Massachusetts’ Cannabis Control Commission (the Commission) has yet to administer an update, guidelines or even a timeline on when the industry can expect the market to open up.
“I’m hopeful by the time we go to harvest, there will be a market to sell in the state,” Noel says.
Now, a sense of urgency permeates the state’s hemp industry. The cultivation season is quickly approaching, and producers like Noel are left to decide whether to grow based only on the hope that regulations will be administered in time. Meanwhile, processors say they’re fielding a boom in calls from interested dispensaries, only to hang in limbo as they await guidance.
“There’s not going to be a hemp industry in Massachusetts if this isn’t implemented in a timely fashion,” says John Nathan, president of Bay State Hemp Company, a licensed hemp extractor and processor in the state. “We’re in a legal [cannabis] state that’s about