When industrial hemp production became legal following the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the measure planted the seed of great hopes for a new line of hemp-based businesses.
Farmers and retailers alike had virtually no time to rejoice before regulatory confusion shut down their ambitions — and sometimes their businesses, as plans for a lucrative new cash crop have been put on hold.
Shop and restaurant owners in several states are being obliged to pack up their merchandise containing cannabidiol (CBD) until it’s out of the crosshairs of regulators who are interpreting state and federal laws.
Although CBD seemed to be everywhere in fall 2018 when it turned up as a boutique item at restaurants and as an ice cream additive, some state authorities didn’t find it so tasty.
The turmoil soon led to what is now being called the “CBD crackdown,” and it’s spreading from state to state as the hottest health and wellness product of the latter half of 2018 seems to have hit a roadblock.
“The inspector arrived out of the blue and said, ‘Take the signs down and pack up the merchandise right now,’” said Debbie Gannaway, owner of Gramma Debbie’s Kitchen located in Cincinnati‘s historic Findlay Market and is also seen weekly on Cincinnati CBS affiliate WKRC-TV sharing her culinary tips and recipes.
“Can you imagine the TV cameras if the police came and took Gramma Debbie away for selling CBD seltzer?” said Gannaway, a grandmother of 10.
New York Health Department officials also caught retailers off guard in a series of unannounced inspections.
Dorothy Stepnowska, the owner of Flower Power Coffee House in Queens, echoed a common concern of CBD sellers. “I was waiting for them to regulate it, give us some kind of instructions, not for them to just pull it off the shelf,” she told the New York Post.
At least one CBD advocate agreed with the health authorities.
“What would happen if a restaurant puts CBD into someone’s food and they have a bad reaction?” asked Steve Phan, co-founder of Manhattan-based Come Back Daily, which sells CBD-infused packaged food, tinctures, and balms.
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News