CBD, one of the buzziest wellness products of 2019, just hit a snag. New York City has forbidden the sale of CBD edibles in restaurants, bars, and other establishments that fall under the Department of Health’s purview, Eater reported Tuesday. Health inspectors in the city are already visiting restaurants to enforce the crackdown.
Despite its overwhelming trendiness, there’s not much we know for sure about CBD, or cannabidiol, a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that has no psychoactive properties. Many CBD users say it helps relieve stress and anxiety, muscle soreness, insomnia, and more, but there is very little scientific proof to support or counter these claims. CBD is a try-for-yourself kind of compound.
If only it were that easy. Trying CBD for yourself gets tricky when it comes to legality.
You see, CBD is still considered a controlled substance if it comes from the marijuana variety of cannabis plant, because the marijuana has THC. But it is fully legal if it is derived from the hemp variety of cannabis plant, which has very little THC. (CBD from hemp was considered a controlled substance until the very recently passed 2018 Farm Bill reclassified hemp as an agricultural product.) However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration still holds that it is illegal to sell CBD in dietary supplements or in food through interstate commerce—again, because we really just don’t know enough about it.
New York City’s DOH said in a statement, “Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat,” a nod to the FDA’s guidelines. The statement continued: “Until cannabidiol (CBD) is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.”
Before the crackdown, CBD enthusiasts could stop by a number of restaurants for CBD-laced treat: Fat Cat Kitchen in the East Village sold CBD chocolate chip cookies, Adriaen Block in Queens sold CBD cocktails, and Caffeine Underground in Brooklyn sold CBD coffee, to name a few.
It’s not just happening in New York City. Ohio started to “embargo” CBD products sold at retailers this month, according the Cincinnati Enquirer. Ohio’s medical marijuana program prohibits the sale of CBD products outside of licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, authorities said. But it’s a murky situation, because the program does not make a distinction for CBD derived from hemp versus CBD derived from cannabis. And up in Maine, authorities demanded the removal of CBD edibles from stores, citing the FDA’s guidelines, the Portland Press Herald reported Friday. California reinforced its ban on CBD edibles last year, again because of the FDA’s guidelines.
Confused? Yeah, so is everyone else. Until the FDA decides that hemp CBD is safe to consume, or individual states hammer out their own laws, officials have enough reason to make life hard for establishments selling CBD-infused food, drink, and other products. Like any drug, acceptance and 100-percent legalization will come in fits and spurts, dragged over years of stuffy deliberation.
But hey, you gotta keep up with the trends. Good thing CBD goodies are still plentiful online.