Massachusetts opens land for hemp farming

Massachusetts says it will allow hemp production on more than 73,000 acres of protected farmland previously ruled off-limits for any kind of cannabis.

It is also opening some of the land to marijuana cultivation.

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources announced last week that it has changed its policy on the land set aside under a 1979 program called the Agricultural Preservation Restriction Program, which protects farmland for future agricultural use. 

Landowners who signed up for the program have been unable to farm legalized cannabis and hemp, even after voters legalized marijuana in 2016 and the state opened to hemp cultivation in 2019.

The Department says it will now allow hemp production as it takes a “more expansive view of horticultural uses” for the land.

Marijuana production, though, remains off-limits on any land that gets federal funding or is subject to enforcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Massachusetts did not elaborate on how many acres would fall in this category.

While medical and adult-use marijuana has been legalized in Massachusetts, it remains illegal at the federal level,” the agency said it its notice.