NYC ban on CBD has stores mulling options
Get your CBD-infused snacks and drinks while you can: A crackdown is coming to the Big Apple.
Retailers that sell consumable goods infused with cannabidiol — or CBD, an ingredient in marijuana that doesn’t get you high, but which is said to relieve pain and anxiety — are poised to yank them from their shelves as a ban from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is slated to go into effect July 1.
Starting on Oct. 1 the agency says it will also assess fines from $200 to $650 on businesses that are not in compliance.
“We don’t agree with the ban,” said George Tenedios, founder and chief executive of Fresh&Co, whose 18 health-focused restaurants across the city have lately been selling CBD-infused chocolate truffles for $7.95 for three. “But I want to be in compliance with the DOH.”
Retailers are spooked because local regulators in recent months have been raiding businesses and confiscating their CBD merchandise.
Since late last year, they’ve been acting across states from California to New York to enforce a ban on ingestible CBD products by the US Food and Drug Administration.
Initially, many stores and manufacturers had ignored the FDA’s edict, first issued in December, figuring that consumer demand would persuade the FDA to reverse itself.
But that hasn’t happened yet. At a May 31 hearing in Washington, the FDA, which permits CBD-based topical creams and cosmetics that aren’t ingested, reaffirmed a ban on the hemp extract’s use in food and drink.
“People had hoped that the FDA would change its tone, but when it didn’t that cued state regulators on what approach to take in dealing with CBD,” said Zach Bader, who is producing a trade show in August in Miami called USA CBD Expo.
“Most businesses are selling through their inventory while some outliers will continue to sell those products,” Bader added.
In New York City, the health department raided at least half a dozen businesses earlier this year, including Fat Cat Kitchen bakery.
“The health department is responsible for promoting the safety of the food available to New Yorkers,” the city agency said in a statement, pointing to other cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and Portland, Maine, as having similar bans.
Steven Phan, who opened two CBD stores in Manhattan this spring called Come Back Daily, is not stocking up on edibles anymore. Earlier this year, he purchased nearly 400 cases with 50 units each of CBD-infused gummy bears.
“But I got scared by the crackdown and now I wait until I’m nearly out of stock to buy more product,” Phan told The Post. “I don’t want to be sitting on hundreds of gummy bears that I can’t sell.”
Some newer stores that specialize in CBD products are even prepared to replace their merchandise with other natural remedies, including turmeric, melatonin, and ginkgo.
“We’ll look at other plant-based medicines if CBD has to be removed from our food and beverages,” said Anthony Saniger, owner of Standard Dose, a three-story wellness center that opened last month in NoMad.
CBD ingestible products like a $32 jar of chocolate sauce and Be Calm Capsules represent half of the center’s merchandise.
Not everybody is in a hurry to signal compliance, as CBD-infused chocolate-chip cookies, Rice Krispies treats, honey, olive oil and cold teas linger at storefronts citywide.
The Gregorys Coffee chain, which continues to charge an extra $2.50 to add a few CBD drops to its coffee and teas, did not return e-mails from The Post on whether it will stop doing so by July.
Fresh&co, however, said it will stop selling CBD-infused beverages like Pink Honey Ginger’Ade.
The truffles will come back at a lower price — $4.95 a pair, minus the CBD.
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