A newly-enforced ban on CBD-infused food products could severely impact flourishing new businesses like Bushwick's Caffeine Underground
Photo credit: Matt Allen for BK Reader

The New York City Health Department is cracking down on CBD-infused foods and drinks — with little to no warning for the establishments serving these items, reports Crain’s New York. 

Although the sale of CBD, a marijuana compound that lacks THC and therefore causes no psychedelic effects, is legal in New York, health department inspectors have begun confiscating products that contain it and advise restaurants to take them off their menus. Following guidelines that were issued in December by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the health department began enforcing a ban on CBD-laced food products in January.

“The health department takes seriously its responsibility to protect New Yorkers’ health,” officials said in a statement. “Until CBD is deemed safe as a food additive, the department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing it.”

But according to the New York City Hospitality Alliance, there has been no guidance from the city on the legal requirements of using CBD as an ingredient, despite many requests for clarification.

“This aggressive enforcement is another example of New York City’s regulatory approach: Issue fines first and educate last,” the alliance stated.

Photo courtesy Caffeine Underground

Ian Ford, the owner of Bushwick’s CaffeineUnderground, the state’s first coffee shop to legally serve CBD in its lattes and teas, told amNY that he was unaware of the new ban. Since he opened his shop in 2017, the neighborhood’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, Ford said. He carries CBD products because of their health and wellness effects; the compound is believed to help in treating anxiety, pain, inflammation and other conditions.

“It’s an amazing product. It addresses so many health issues and doesn’t harm you, or cost you a fortune,” he said. “I really have seen its positive effects on the people who come in here.”

Now, he fears that if his cafe is forced to stop selling CBD products like lattes, teas, chocolates and lollipops, it may negatively impact his sales by up to 30 percent.

“As long as you know where you get it and it’s legally sourced, I don’t understand why they would have an issue,” Ford said.

So far, five establishments have been ordered to stop using CBD in their products, the health department stated, yet pointed out that the owners were still allowed to keep their products. Likewise, the sale of medicinal CBD products is still permitted in pharmacies.

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