With the popularity of products containing cannabidiol (CBD)—a non-psychoactive derivative of cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.)—on the rise, the interest in adding CPD to foods and beverages has also taken off. According to Crain’s, the New York Dept. of Health (DOH) has issued new guidance on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) by restaurants and bars as an additive in food and drinks.

The guidance states that operators who have not voluntarily come into compliance and continue to offer food and drink products that contain CBD will have their products embargoed beginning July 1, 2019. Additionally, beginning Oct. 1, 2019, the DOH will begin issuing violations to foodservice establishments that offer food or drinks containing CBD. The violations also may be subject to fines as well as violation points that count toward the establishment’s letter grade.

Most CBD was legalized in December 2018 when U.S. President Donald Trump signed the $867 billion farm bill, which removed industrial hemp from the federal government’s list of controlled substances and made it a lawful agricultural commodity. However, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb released a statement saying the agency would continue enforcing a ban on adding CBD to food and drinks while it looks into creating a pathway for such products to legally enter the market.

Meanwhile, Maine Legislature’s agriculture committee has unanimously approved an emergency bill that would allow the state to treat hemp-derived CBD as a food, not a medicine. According to the Portland Press Herald, supporters say the bill (L.D. 630) is the fastest way to reopen the CBD market to local farmers, bakers, processors, and retailers before they miss out on the 2019 growing season, shut down their kitchens, and lay off employees. The market came to a screeching halt last month when state inspectors cracked down on CBD foods, warning state retailers that they could no longer sell what federal authorities consider to be an unapproved food additive.

That prompted Rep. Craig Hickman (D-Winthrop) to come up with what he hopes is going to be a localized solution to the state-federal disconnect on CBDs. More than 40 hemp farmers, retailers, processors, and CBD patients testified in favor of the bill. If approved by the full Maine Legislature, the bill would change the state definition of hemp to match the federal one and allow Mainers to keep growing, processing, and selling hemp-derived CBD products so long as they don’t try to act like it’s a medicine.

In his December 2018 statement, Gottlieb mentioned that the agency is open to considering the status of CBD-infused foods and beverages. “In addition, pathways remain available for the FDA to consider whether there are circumstances in which certain cannabis-derived compounds might be permitted in a food or dietary supplement,” wrote Gottlieb. “Although such products are generally prohibited to be introduced in interstate commerce, the FDA has authority to issue a regulation allowing the use of a pharmaceutical ingredient in a food or dietary supplement. We are taking new steps to evaluate whether we should pursue such a process.” Until that time, it is up to the individual states to decide.

Crain’s article

Portland Press Herald article

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