New Prohibition Bill Brings Sale of CBD Beverages Down from a “High”

Everyone loves to relax after a long day, often times with the help of an adult beverage or two. Since 2015, Los Angeles restaurants really harnessed its patron’s strong desire to relax, with the option adding (for an upcharge) cannabidiol, known as “CBD,” to its wine and cocktail menus. Though CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component in marijuana, it still has a calming effect.

California Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

After January 1, 2018, California saw large growth of this, when the state legalized the recreational use of cannabis. However, in late September California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2914, now making the addition of CBD to any cocktail illegal. The bill passed the state Assembly unanimously, while it received a 34 – 3 vote in the state Senate.

The bill, which uses language specific to any LA bars making CBD cocktails prohibits both bars and liquor stores from selling alcoholic drink containing cannabis:

“This bill would prohibit an alcoholic beverage licensee from, at its licensed premises, selling, offering, or providing cannabis or cannabis products, including an alcoholic beverage that contains cannabis or cannabis products, and would provide that no alcoholic beverage shall be manufactured, sold, or offered for sale if it contains tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabinoids, regardless of source.”

California Department of Public Health Ruled Use Illegal

This past July, the California Department of Public Health, which ruled the use of CBD in beverages illegal, issued a statement that instructed businesses not to serve CDB in its beverages until it was found to be safe by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Business owners were left unsure of the actual regulations, CBD products were at times confiscated, and owners were told to stop using cannabis ingredients in their drinks or be met with a fine. The signing of Bill 2914 codifies the Department’s ruling.

Risk of Unknown Effects

The bill, which surprisingly faced no real opposition, was backed by many, including the County Health Executives Association of California, was deemed appropriate, as the combining of the known sedative of alcohol, with the relatively unknown effects of CBD could create potentially harmful situations.

Adding CBD to Non-Alcoholic Beverages

A trend of individuals is getting past these new hurdles of illegality, by instead adding CBD to non-alcoholic beverages (some of which are made to taste like alcohol,) that are sold at cannabis dispensaries. Additionally, the state Senate noted that CBD can be derived from industrial hemp, which although grown as cannabis, it not actually classified as such under state law. Brown also recently signed a bill legalizing state industrial hemp production. However, the Senate expressed that it remains unclear as to whether or not these cocktail additives are cannabis or hemp-derived.

Enforcement May Prove Difficult

As the largest market for legal marijuana, California’s decisions will likely lead the way for other states that also have legalized marijuana or are considering doing so. The addition of CBD to beverages has already been a new and confusing venture in California, but the enforcement of this new bill prohibiting it still remains to be seen. However, for many business owners the risk of losing their beer or liquor licenses may just be enough to prevent them from use.

Posted in: Business Law