No More CBD in NYC Food and Drinks

City health department says CBD-infused edibles have not been determined safe for consumption.
February 11, 2019

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Caffeine Underground in Brooklyn is in trouble over CBD-infused edibles, according to a video report from NBC Nightly News.

Ian Ford, proprietor of the coffee shop, claims that his business boomed when he began offering customers coffee and tea infused with cannabidiol or CBD. But now the NYC Health Department has stepped in to prohibit bars and eateries from selling food containing CBD.

"We were the first ones in New York State to offer drinks with CBD, and it became a big deal for us,” he told NBC News. “Now I don’t know what’s going to happen. They know we sell this, but they’re not talking to us until they show up, apparently. All of this is very confusing. It’s legal to buy it and stick it on your tongue, but it’s not legal to buy it and stick it in your coffee? It’s like there’s no rules and too many rules.” (For more on what’s legal and what’s not with CBD, check out the latest NACS resource on CBD retailing.)

The city's Department of Health confirmed in a statement that it is ordering restaurants and other establishments not to sell food or beverages containing CBD because the additive has not been deemed safe to consume.

“Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat,” the statement read. “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.”

The health department gave NBC News a list of 11 Manhattan restaurants that have been “ordered not to use CBD as a food additive in products.”

Other cities are lowering the boom on CBD. States like Maine and Ohio are also barring the sale of food products containing the chemical. Unlike THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol and is the main component in marijuana, CBD doesn't get people high. But it’s been touted by many as a remedy for anxiety, insomnia, pain and a host of other ailments, although there is little research to back those claims.

In June, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the first-ever CBD drug to treat epilepsy. At the same time, the FDA website says that CBD cannot be sold as a dietary supplement or added to food that crosses state lines. Meanwhile, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration still regards cannabis as a banned drug and therefore illegal despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized in states, such as California and Massachusetts. In New York State, marijuana for medical use is permitted.

A recent NBC investigation found that some manufacturers are trying to cash in on the CBD craze—and the lack of regulation—by selling products that they claim contain CBD but in fact don’t.

“Patients are being duped,” said Chris Martinez, president of Evio Labs, which analyzed 35 CBD products and found that 20 contained less than half the amount of CBD reported, and some contained none at all.

Back at Brooklyn’s Caffeine Underground, Ford is still puzzled.  He has called the city health department, but so far, “I’m not getting any answers.”