New Yorkers will have to bid adieu to CBD-infused food products, according to the recent crackdown from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Bakeries and cafés across New York City have been cashing in on the trend of infusing items like baked goods and drinks with cannabidiol, the popular cannabis derivative that’s more commonly known as CBD. But on Tuesday, Feb. 5, The New York Times reported that the city’s health department is demanding all food establishments under its jurisdiction to cease selling any CBD-infused food products.
In a statement to the Times, the health department said that New York City eating establishments weren’t allowed to “add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat.” The department said that CBD hadn’t been “deemed safe as a food additive,” which means that you can expect to stop seeing it in cafés and bakeries soon.
Even before the official confirmation, inspectors began embargoing the products in January 2019, according to Eater. While restaurants were told to stop offering the products, the inspectors did not confiscate the goods. The Times noted that officials have formally asked five eateries to end their CBD food and drink sales thus far.
The change will also be significant for businesses that have based their entire premise on selling CBD-infused fare, like the Queens-based cocktail bar Adriaen Block. The crackdown also appears to be growing, with Maine banning CBD edibles due to federal safety guidelines and authorities removing the products from shops in Ohio.
The rise of CBD-infused food and drink was borne of growing interest in cannabinoids for their purported health benefits. CBD in particular gained popularity for claims that it could help individuals deal with anxiety, pain, and insomnia, among other alleged benefits. Most notably, the cannabis-derived compound isn’t psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t provide the high associated with marijuana. And so CBD began popping up in everything from face masks to gummy bears. CBD-laced lattes, brownies, and fudge sundaes ensued.
But the compound’s legality lacks clarity. The Times reported that while the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the country’s first CBD prescription drug for sale last June, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) still considers CBD illegal due to its being derived from cannabis.
And according to the FDA’s website, products containing CBD aren’t allowed to be sold as dietary supplements, nor is it legal to sell food with CBD in it across state lines. In response to a question about whether the FDA would take action on CBD-infused dietary supplements and foods, the site said that the agency “considers many factors,” including “agency resources and the threat to the public health.” The FDA also noted it might “consult with its federal and state partners in making decisions about whether to initiate a federal enforcement action.”
“The Health Department takes seriously its responsibility to protect New Yorkers’ health,” a New York Department of Health spokesperson told Eater. "Until cannabidiol (CBD) is deemed safe as a food additive, the Department is ordering restaurants not to offer products containing CBD.”
While New Yorkers can still purchase CBD products for personal consumption, for now, they will have to say goodbye to lattes and other edibles with the product in them in their neighborhood cafés. RIP, CBD-infused baked goods, we hardly knew ye.