NYC Restaurants Ordered To Stop Serving CBD-Infused Drinks

PUBLISHED: May 19, 2019

The marijuana business is booming. And while the laws in some states are becoming less and less strict, making it easier for businesses to flourish, other states aren’t feeling it.

The state of New York is putting a stop on businesses adding CBD, or cannabidiol, to food and drinks. The substance that comes from a cannabis plant is supposed to bring a sense of calming to patrons, giving the same benefits of marijuana, without the high. New York City’s health department isn’t buying it and started cracking down on restaurants in the city last month. So far, eight restaurants have been ordered to stop. Officials said CBD wasn’t approved as a safe product for consumers. “The Health Department takes seriously its responsibility to protect New Yorkers’ health,” a health department spokeswoman said. “Until cannabidiol is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.”

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The new regulations are putting a damper on the cannabis business. Eric Cahan, co-owner of Mamacha, said he has already started pulling the CBD-based food and drinks from the menu, which is difficult since the brand specializes in CBD matcha tea. He also pulled CBD cookies, chocolates and seltzer from his shelves. “It’s weird because it feels like the health department is against small businesses,” Cahan said. “Don’t they want us to do well and continue? Why would they not want us to? It feels arbitrary and ridiculous.”

It’s also a hassle because it is rightfully legal. President Trump made it legal after signing the Farm Bill last year. Some insiders looked at it as a positive thing to help the industry, but the FDA banning adding the product to foods and drinks was always a possible hurdle. The main ingredient in CBD is Epidiolex, an FDA-approved drug used to treat severe childhood epilepsy.

The NYC health department only places an embargo on CBD products, meaning businesses don’t have to remove or destroy them, restaurants just can’t use CBD. So Cahan is selling drinks and CBD oil separately from his store, offering a two-day dose kit for $12. Customers can mix it in on their own.

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