Massachusetts says hemp-derived CBD is illegal — but CBD stores are still everywhere

By Felicia Gans Globe Staff,July 1, 2019, 9:12 a.m.

The exterior of the American Shaman CBD shop on Newbury Street. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)

Across Massachusetts, customers can find CBD everywhere, from the small shops selling CBD up and down Newbury Street to the products lining the shelves at national stores like Bed Bath & Beyond and Sephora.

CBD has become so common that you can even buy gummies in the small corner store in the lobby of the office building that houses the Boston Globe.

The popularity of cannabidiol, which can be extracted from marijuana or hemp — two different varieties of the cannabis plant — has prompted questions and confusion from consumers who want to make sure their products are safe, legal, and reliable.

But the overarching question remains: Is this even legal?

Now, the state has an answer.

State officials from the Department of Public Health and the Department of Agricultural Resources said this month certain types of CBD are illegal under state regulations. The new policies outline legal uses for hemp and its derivatives, and said two common uses of CBD are now prohibited: “any food product containing CBD” and “any product containing CBD derived from hemp that makes therapeutic/medicinal claims,” according to a June 12 notice from the Department of Agricultural Resources.

Those two restrictions affect a vast majority of products on the market, from gummies that claim to help with pain management to oils that allege to help with sleep.

So why are these products still on shelves? The answer, it seems, comes down to enforcement.

Spokeswomen for both state agencies said local boards of health would ultimately be responsible for deciding on enforcement strategies in their own cities and towns.

Brendan Moss, a spokesman for Governor Charlie Baker, reiterated that sentiment, noting that the policies were released “consistent with previously announced federal policy.”

The administration “looks forward to working with the FDA, state agencies and local boards of health to ensure all products in Massachusetts comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations,” Moss said in a statement.

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