Across New York City, bars and restaurants have been jumping into the CBD craze, infusing cocktails, cookies, coffee, and more with the non-intoxicating cannabis compound, but that trend looks to be coming to a close for the time being thanks to the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOH).
“Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat,” a department official wrote in an email statement to Weedmaps News. “The Health Department takes seriously its responsibility to protect New Yorkers' health. Until cannabidiol (CBD) is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.”
Fat Cat Kitchen, a restaurant and bakery in Manhattan, had about $1,000 worth of CBD-infused baked goods taken off their shelves by the department on Feb. 1, 2019, making the policy become widely known. Co-owner C.J. Holm told Eater New York that the products were bagged and marked as “embargoed” during a routine inspection, the first time it's happened even though the restaurant had been visited by inspectors twice in the recent past.
The department is alerting restaurants about the CBD embargo and will begin issuing violations on July 1, 2019, that could subject restaurant and bar owners to between a $200 and $650 fine, depending on the quantity identified.
New York City's policy on CBD as a food additive is guided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which issued its stance in December 2018 after the passage of the Farm Bill. It legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp but left the regulation of CBD in the hands of the FDA. According to a prepared statement from Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, because CBD is an active ingredient in an FDA-approved drug, the epilepsy medication Epidiolex, and was the “subject of substantial clinical investigations.” Before being marketed as a food, CBD cannot legally be introduced into the food supply. But the FDA also acknowledges the potential of cannabis and cannabis-derived products and the growing public interest.
“Given the substantial public interest … we intend to hold a public meeting in the near future for stakeholders to share their experiences and challenges with these products,” Gottlieb wrote in the statement.
It's not only New York City that's cracking down on CBD in food and drinks. The New York State Department of Health is also making moves against CBD-infused food across the entire state.
“The New York State Department of Health conducts restaurant inspections for 21 counties in New York State and is working on providing guidance prohibiting the addition of CBD to food in restaurants,” Jill Montag, a spokesperson for the department, told Weedmaps News.
New York state is currently working toward legalizing adult-use cannabis, and John Gilstrap, the chief operating officer of Hudson Hemp, an association of farmers growing hemp for CBD in New York's Hudson Valley, believes the crackdown is in anticipation of those regulations.
“We knew this was coming. We've been talking with the regulatory authorities for around nine months now,” Gilstrap said. “It's weird because there's no other guidance, but I'm pretty sure there's going to be some regulations coming down in the summertime.”