CBD infused food and drinks is one of the fastest growing trends in 2020. From cocktails to coffee, and anything in between, incorporating CBD is the hot new thing. Despite CBD oil’s steadily-growing popularity, its legality has mostly fallen within a gray area, making restaurateurs and business owners confused and wary of whether they can—or should—incorporate CBD oil and CBD infusions into their menu.
If you’ve been considering adding CBD to your menu, or you are unsure of what to do if it’s already listed as an item, learn more about CBD, the legality of CBD, and the next steps for you to take.
What is CBD?
“CBD” is an acronym for cannabidiol, a naturally-occuring compound of the cannabis plant. Despite its source, CBD does not contain THC, the well-known, mind-altering compound also found in cannabis, which produces a “high.” Since entering the market, CBD has been credited as an all-natural supplement for alleviating everyday muscle pains, joint aches and migraines. CBD is also legally used as a medication for two rare forms of epilepsy
Once the CBD market really began to boom in 2019, it’s been a main ingredient in drinks, snacks, food bars and more. In the culinary world, chefs and mixologists have been experimenting with CBD oil infusions or tinctures to give their menus an extra oomph.
Is CBD Legal?
Technically, yes, because CBD is a product of hemp, which was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. While CBD is a legal substance to have, it is not legal to sell as a supplement with unsubstantiated claims as an anxiety reducer or a pain reliever. It’s also technically illegal to sell it in food products, unless stated otherwise by your local state or county legislation.
The FDA is still trying to establish set guidelines about selling of CBD and its usage. According to a FAQ posted on the FDA’s official site, they have this to say about whether or not CBD is legal to sell:
“It depends, among other things, on the intended use of the product and how it is labeled and marketed. Even if a CBD product meets the definition of ‘hemp’ under the 2018 Farm Bill…it still must comply with all other applicable laws, including the FD&C Act.”
Additionally, CBD-infused food products are prohibited from interstate commerce according to the FDA.
Can I Use CBD in My Restaurant?
Depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to include CBD oils or tinctures into your menu. You’re going to have to establish whether or not you can do so based on the laws in your particular state. Each state has its own unique stance on the usage of CBD and how its sold. You’ll have to check on your state’s stance and how it applies to your business.
What Should I Do if I Have CBD on My Menu?
First, until you know for sure whether you can sell CBD products on your menu, it’s best to err on the side of caution and remove the item from your menu. Should you sell CBD-infused products on your menu in an area where it’s prohibited, you could run the risk of being penalized by the FDA.
Next, if it is legal to sell CBD products in your restaurant, make sure you follow any corresponding legislation on selling such products. If you have a lawyer you work with, it would be good to get their advice and learn of any limitations.
However, if you do have to remove your CBD menu items, you can use other legal hemp products like hemp seed, which provide many added health benefits.
While it may seem like working with CBD is a bit tricky, the FDA is actively working on updating their guidelines concerning the sale and usage of CBD, meaning more questions will be answered. In the meantime, make sure you get sound legal advice and comply with your local legislation about using and infusing food products with CBD.
For more information about CBD, check out the free resources provided by the FDA. For more tips and advice for your commercial kitchen or restaurant, take a look at our guides to other foodservice trends like non-dairy milk alternatives and fast food trends for 2020.