Examining NYC’s CBD Laws Around Food & Drinks

NYC’s CBD Laws
Photo by Andy Lee on Unsplash.com

If you’re planning to visit the Big Apple from so-called cannabis “pioneer states” like California, Oregon or Colorado, you’ll want to take note of their current regulations on CBD-infused consumables (i.e. food, beverages, alcohol, and tobacco). Surprisingly, New York City is considerably less progressive when it comes to the sale, purchase, and public consumption of certain products containing CBD. In this post, we’ll discuss NYC’s CBD laws around food and drinks.

Why do NYC’s CBD laws stand out?

Despite having a Democratic majority among state legislators and a highly progressive voting constituency within its population centers, New York has a highly rigorous regulatory framework around CBD relative to its liberal contemporaries outside of New England. This is likely attributable to the presence of numerous conservative voting strongholds outside of NYC itself.

The New York City mayor, Bill DeBlasio, has also maintained a fairly moderate voting record throughout his time in office — which explains his unpopularity in many NYC enclaves.

In this post, we compare and contrast the regulations around CBD in garden-variety food and drink versus infused alcohol and tobacco products, as well as whether these laws are arbitrary or without precedent within the United States.

The legality of CBD-Infused Food & Drinks

While cannabis bars and taprooms dot the West Coast, you’ll find no such thing across all 13.4 miles of Manhattan Island. This is not to say any and all CBD-infused consumables are not allowed, though. As of October last year, the latest regulations state that everything from CBD-infused chocolates and gummies to CBD mineral water products are fine. This includes any homemade food items you might have infused yourself using CBD drops.

The legality of CBD food and drinks does come with a few guidelines that were laid out in the new rules signed into law last year. Here are the key takeaways:

  • No CBD product can be sold if it contains more than 0.3% of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC.
  • No individual food or beverage product can contain more than 25mg of hemp-extracted cannabinoids per serving. (In supplements such as salves or tinctures, the product can contain up to 3,000mg).
  • Food and drink infused with CBD or other hemp extracts must be packaged by the manufacturer. Extracts cannot be added at the retail level (so a bakery, for example, can’t add them to a batch of brownies).
  • CBD-infused products cannot be advertised or labeled as curing any specific diseases or ailments.

The legality of CBD in Alcohol & Tobacco

In New York City, it’s illegal to sell any alcohol or tobacco product with CBD in them. Likewise, consumers cannot purchase any form of alcohol or tobacco products that have been mixed with CBD oil. According to state regulators, “the prohibition of cannabis in alcoholic beverages is meant to avoid misleading consumers into believing that the alcohol product contains THC or other cannabis ingredients when it does not.”

State legislators passed the law unanimously, which went into effect as of July 1st, 2019.

It’s worth noting that New York City is not the first place to impose a ban on CBD oil in alcoholic beverages. A similar ban went into effect in South Carolina earlier this year. Alaska, Kansas and Nebraska have also banned the sale of CBD-infused alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.

Is The Legal Distinction Justified?

Products containing CBD are considered as medicines under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C), so they are subject to FDA regulations for medications that include drug manufacturing controls to ensure their identity, purity and strength.

According to FDA guidance documents on CBD products, “if you make medical claims about your product’s ability to treat specific conditions such as cancer. Epilepsy or other seizure disorders (or any other disease or condition), you must seek approval from the FDA.”

The American Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) also weighed in last year. In their statement, they explained that “the trend toward adding cannabis to alcohol is so recent that the TTB has not provided guidance on how producers should label their products. The agency prohibits companies making marijuana beverages from using any federally approved cannabis health claim in product labeling.”

It’s likely that with more time, research and subsequent regulation on new products, the restrictions around CBD alcohol and tobacco will start to ease, even in stricter localities like New York City. If you have more to share about NYC’s CBD laws – please comment below!

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