This past week the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOH) issued a crackdown on restaurants, bars, and coffee shops selling products containing the cannabis derivative cannabidiol, also knowns as CBD.

The Department of Health & Mental Hygiene confirmed on Tuesday they would no longer allow products with CBD oil to be sold in the city. In a statement the health department said that New York City eateries were not “permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat,” including CBD, which has not been “deemed safe as a food additive.”

CBD, a chemical compound found in marijuana, is similar to its main component THC. The main difference of CBD is that it isn’t a psychoactive, meaning users will not get “high” off CBD alone.

In recent years, CBD has become increasingly popular, with many touting its benefits and adding it to various food, drink, and health and beauty products, but there is still very little scientific research to back up its health claims.

When the CBD renaissance first began, questions of its legality immediately were raised with no clear answers. In June 2018, the federal Food and Drug Administration approved the first CBD prescription drug to be sold in the U.S., but on the FDA’s website, it states that products containing CBD cannot be sold as dietary supplements or in the food that crosses state lines. Confusing, right? The Drug Enforcement Administration has been firmer, saying CBD is illegal, because it comes from cannabis, a banned Schedule 1 Drug, according to The New York Times

While this ban may seem jarring, New York City is not the first place to put such a policy in place. Maine, one of the 10 states that has legalized marijuana for recreational uses, has also recently ordered restaurants to remove any CBD products from the menu, according to The Portland Press Herald. Ohio, a state with legalized medical marijuana programs, has begun asking businesses to stop selling CBD products, according to an article in The Cincinnati Enquirer.

So far, only five restaurants in New York City have been affected, but the writing is on the wall for other businesses selling CBD products. A spokesperson for the DOH told, “Restaurants in New York City are not permitted to add anything to food or drink that is not approved as safe to eat. 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.”

The affected businesses are confused about the sudden crackdown and lack of communication from the DOH, since in December of 2018 New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s cannabis legalization task force released this statement according to

“Many City establishments already sell CBD products, which are legal in New York State, as CBD is minimally psychoactive and believed not to carry significant health risks.”

Fat Cat Kitchen in New York City was one of the first restaurants targeted by the crackdown, taking to Instagram to post about the DOH inspection. 

While it is unclear of the future of CBD, it is important to remember CBD is still new and has not been thoroughly researched. The question is, why did the crackdown happen now? We will be keeping tabs on this story as it develops.


h/t The Cincinnati Enquirer