The New York City Department of Health has announced that bars and restaurants in the city are not permitted to serve CBD products. Despite the legalization of hemp and CBD in the 2018 Farm Bill, a health department spokeswoman said in a statement that the cannabinoid has not yet been approved for use in food and beverage products.
“Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat,” she said. “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.”
Dorothy Stepnowska, the owner of Flower Power Coffee House in Ridgewood, Queens, which has been selling CBD products, said that she disagreed with the ban and is considering a fight against it.
“It makes no sense,” she said. “It has no THC, no psycho-additive. It’s a plant, it comes from the ground… it helps a lot of people.”
She added that she had expected regulation, but believes that the health department has gone too far.
“I was waiting for them to regulate it to give us some kind of instructions on how to go about selling it, but not for them to just pull it off the shelf,” she said. “Oh Jesus, oh no. We’re going to lose a lot of money.”
Mayor Vows to Learn More
Mayor Bill de Blasio said at an unrelated event that he has not yet discussed the issue with the health department but that he values their input.
“I will follow up with the Department of Health,” de Blasio said. “Look, the Department of Health is the gold standard for public health in this country and if they have a concern, I have a concern. I have not had this conversation with them directly. But, I think they’re often on the cutting edge of identifying problems and addressing them. So let me have that conversation and I’ll come back to you.”
CJ Holm, the owner of the Fat Cat Kitchen in Manhattan, had been offering CBD treats until last Friday when health department inspectors embargoed the products on hand and said that they could not be sold. Holm said that the inspectors’ visit left her “with nothing but questions. They made statements that weren’t true, they didn’t explain what the issue was, they didn’t take the CBD, they just put it in a plastic baggie.”
“It was so random and arbitrary and unclear what we had done wrong,” she added. “I had to call the Department of Health three times to get someone on the phone who even knew what CBD was. One woman put me on hold, and then came back and said, ‘Oh I just Googled it, now I know what CBD is!’ You’re taking away my CBD, and nobody even knows what it is!”