During the past year or so, restaurants and trendy coffee shops around the country have been steadily adding CBD infused items to their menus. Everything from drinks, snacks, to full meals containing CBD oil are being offered throughout the country, particularly in New York City and LA, where novelty food is sought after.
It sounds interesting and we’re all curious about trying different CBD infused snacks… But, how legal is it?
CBD Food: What exactly is out there?
Several restaurants, chefs and coffee shops in the U.S. have been including CBD infused items in their menus in an effort to respond to the growing CBD demand. Lattes, gummies, chocolates, cupcakes, juices, cookies, golden milk… The list is endless. And Canada has been going through a similar process.
CBD drinks and CBD food are the top food trend for 2019, according to a survey carried out by the National Restaurant Association, which also determined that 3 in 4 chefs agree with this.
The amount of edible products containing CBD rose immensely after the Farm Bill was signed by President Trump in December 2018, legalizing the growing of industrial hemp in the whole country. Signs outside small shops now read “CBD Drinks!” along with drawings of cannabis leaves, or pictures of yummy-looking lattes or matcha tea, and it’s not that hard, in some states, to come across small food trucks that sell CBD cupcakes or cookies… Yes, they cater to our sweet tooth.
State laws differ, however, when it comes to recreational cannabis, so in states like Colorado, for example, it’s much easier to obtain cannabis products, not just hemp.
Large restaurant chains have stayed away from the trend, since they’re more exposed and likely to be affected by the illegality of the matter; however, exclusive restaurants, trendy coffee shops and independent chefs are risking it for the sake of not staying behind and trying new things.
Mondelēz, the company that makes Oreo, Cadbury and several other well known brands, even stated that their team is preparing to add CBD to new brands or some of the existing ones, but have made it very clear that they’re waiting for the FDA to regulate it before they actually commercialize the products.
The FDA’s Position
The Farm Bill made it clear that the Food and Drug Administration is in charge of regulating the application of CBD in everyday products. The FDA itself reiterated their authority in the matter of regulating cannabis products almost immediately.
Because the regulation for food, medication and supplements is still pending, mainstream drug stores like CVS and Walgreens have dipped into the CBD market with topical versions of the products (creams, sprays, patches, among others).
Currently, the FDA is looking into regulating CBD infused in food, which several restaurants are already doing, despite the lack of regulations. Not to mention the cosmetic brands who are also dipping into the new market without waiting for the official green light.
The FDA and State authorities have already officially warned a few restaurants that they have until June 30 to stop adding the cannabinoid to food, since that date marks the end of the “educational period” after which their products can be confiscated by the authorities. Plus, some states have chosen to discourage the use of CBD additives by lowering inspection scores.
The FDA calls people to participate in the upcoming regulation
The sense of urgency for regulation after the Farm Bill was signed was felt immediately, but it is unlikely that the Food and Drug Administration will have it ready this year, since they need to look into different scientific studies.
It’s important to remember that a public hearing will be held on the 31st of May, where expert opinions and case studies will be heard in an effort to ensure that as much information and as many concerns are addressed and taken into account for the upcoming regulation.
This hearing is specifically aimed towards the use of CBD in consumer products (food, beverages, among others). However, in December, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that hulled hemp seeds, hemp seed protein, and hemp seed oil can be marketed freely as long as they make no claims to cure or treat any health conditions. So these products are already in the clear.
The FDA has reasonable concerns about these products. And one of the reasons is that, since CBD began growing as a market, illegal synthetic versions of the cannabinoid have been developed in labs and marketed as CBD supplements.
The issue with these synthetic versions is that they have been observed to have less medicinal properties and several detrimental effects on health, having even caused 16 documented deaths.
Though the FDA has sometimes approved synthetic versions of natural components, like opioids or THC (Marinol), the new, illegal synthetic CBD versions are not approved and are incredibly dangerous, causing alarm within the FDA and the medical community, since they often pass as natural CBD, making it unclear whether or not they are safe.
The FDA approved medication Epidolex, which is CBD based, has highly complicated the upcoming regulations, since it is a delicate matter to allow the active ingredient of an approved drug to be mixed into food, but the public hearing will be helpful in understanding important details about its effects in certain populations, like pregnant women, babies, or people who suffer from different medical conditions and take medication for them.
About this matter, the FDA stated that:
“Under section 301(ll) of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. § 331(ll)], it is prohibited to introduce or deliver for introduction into interstate commerce any food (including any animal food or feed) to which has been added a substance which is an active ingredient in a drug product that has been approved under section 505 of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. § 355], or a drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public.”
Based on the above, it is even prohibited to add CBD to animal food or treats, which causes a huge issue, considering all of these products are already being marketed; CBD dog treats, for example, are very common for pet owners.
Homemade CBD Infused Food
Though selling CBD infused foods is not yet technically legal, using it for personal consumption is allowed. If you’re wondering how to use CBD to cook, keep an eye out for an upcoming article that’ll explain everything you need to know about CBD in the kitchen! And we’ll even give you a delicious recipe for yummy CBD chocolate treats; these are a mouth watering perfect option for those days when you’re feeling low.
The FDA’s Stance on CBD Food
Benefits of Cooking CBD Food at Home
Using CBD at home for personal consumption is NOT illegal! And it won’t get you, or anyone else, high.
Putting natural CBD oil in food isn’t much different than mixing a little curcumin into your eggs; you want to add as many beneficial components into your diet as you can, in order to complement your nutrition. Of course, the effects of CBD are, for some, immediately felt, and they highly influence the body’s functions, which is why it’s constantly being studied for possible medicinal application.
Is it safe to eat?
As far as has been observed, CBD is safe to consume in food, as long as it is well measured and as long as it is NOT the synthetic version of the component.
Actually, for children with severe forms of epilepsy, CBD is sometimes administered along with food, so the flavor and texture don’t cause the child to spit it out or get upset. This is important, since, for epilepsy, the oil is consumed daily by these children.
People who suffer from chronic pain due to arthritis, neuropathy, or other conditions, often calculate their ideal daily dosage and mix it into homemade, portioned desserts or thick drinks in order to mix it up a bit.
These people have reported feeling better after adding the cannabinoid to their daily routine, which is made easier by adding it to meal prep. Let’s face it, most of us aren’t good at remembering to carry a bottle around all day or take multiple doses, so having it as a snack helps.
So, based on what is currently happening, it is very likely that CBD Food and products will be regulated in the next two years or so. However, during this time, CBD will be in a legal limbo that will continue to confuse and annoy companies around the country.
While large chains will be too afraid to try introducing it, small restaurants and coffee shops will likely continue offering CBD products.
I hope this limbo will come to an end soon, because the market has a mind of its own, and eventually the FDA and state authorities will no longer be able to contain the demand and the subsequent offer.