Producers of CBD-infused food should brace for new inspection routines
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Oklahoma recently became one of the first states to put additional inspectors in place for CBD and THC food products sold in the state. Health inspectors will randomly visit medical marijuana businesses to ensure they comply with the law.
Though it is one of the hottest and fastest-growing industries, concepts in safety for food and drink products infused with CBD or THC are still vague. Oklahoma agencies aim to add another layer of protection for these products.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, existing food statutes are applicable to CBD and medical marijuana retailers. However, unlike the traditional food industry, these statutes and regulations are yet to be integrated into regular practices.
Most people have moved into the CBD sector from traditional industries. They say that expectations are yet to be set since the procedure for CBD- and THC-infused food product creation is quite delicate and detailed.
While inspectors are filled in on the knowledge gap, state officials say they will conduct random inspections and treat them like any other food business. Of course, like any other new industry, nothing is set in stone, and it will be evolving for a long time.
For now, these businesses will have to follow the necessary food and beverage compliance laws. The department also seeks to walk them through the licensure process and standards they need to follow.
Violations will be handled just like they are currently handled in the food industry — several warnings are given, and even if businesses still fail to comply, they will be fined. Refusal to get in compliance could result in a cease and desist.
While CBD has been legalized in numerous states and hemp was declassified as an illegal substance per the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, there is still a heavy shroud of legal complications that hang over the CBD-infused food products.
Earlier this year, the FDA announced that CBD and THC are still active ingredients on the FDA’s drugs list and are subject to extensive clinical investigations. The law still preserves the FDA's authority to regulate products that contain cannabis-derived or pure cannabis compounds. CBD or THC-infused food in interstate commerce is illegal. CBD-infused products would need to pass FDA regulations for specific markets.
The laws and the levels of regulation differ from state to state. Most state laws do not consider CBD to be an approved food additive. Instances of businesses being asked to shut down or remove all CBD products from their shelves have been heard of in Michigan and even in progressive states like California.
New York City has also been cracking down on the sale of food and beverage that contain cannabidiol. Bars and restaurants in the Big Apple quickly jumped onto the CBD bandwagon and started serving CBD-infused cocktails, coffee, cookies, and other baked goods.
The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene (DOH) officials are conducting periodic restaurant inspections and are advising restaurants to remove CBD-infused food items from menus. Restaurants have been alerted about a CBD embargo, and violations will be issued July 1 onwards.
New York state, as a whole, is also focused on moving against CBD-infused food across the entire state. The same is true of North Carolina and Ohio, where state departments are working with law enforcement agencies and health departments to "embargo" products containing CBD.
Despite these setbacks, CBD- and cannabis-infused food remain as this year's hot trend with chefs and restaurateurs, per a National Restaurant Association survey. While cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, some are turning to private supper clubs with upscale cannabis-infused dishes on the menu.
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