Is CBD Served at Bars and Restaurants?

Since CBD is growing in popularity across the United States hemp-derived CBD products are starting to pop up in health food stores, drug stores, and online. If recreational and medical dispensaries are legal in your state, then you may be accustomed to seeing CBD products almost everywhere you look. But is CBD also on the menu at local bars and restaurants? Is it legal for these businesses to sell CBD in the US? Or should you stick to buying CBD products from the store or the internet? There is a lot of grey area when it comes to understanding the current laws surrounding CBD and all the products made with hemp-derived extract. But we will do our best to outline where bars and restaurants currently stand on serving CBD-infused food and drinks.

Federal Laws and CBD

The first thing to consider are the federal laws surrounding CBD and hemp plants. The cultivation of industrial hemp was legalized in 2018, with the passing of the Farm Bill. This bill made it legal for farmers to grow hemp plants in the US, with the intention of industrial use. So growing hemp is legal in the eyes of the US federal government, but that does not pertain to the CBD molecules extracted from hemp plants?

To make CBD products, manufacturers often use hemp plants put through an extraction process designed to separate CBD and other plant compounds from the hemp plant matter. What results is a broad-spectrum or full-spectrum hemp plant extract oil. This extract is then mixed into various products to make CBD edibles, tinctures, topicals, and much more. However, CBD is still considered a drug in the eyes of the Food and Drug Administration. It cannot legally be marketed as a food or dietary ingredient in edible products. So although the hemp plant CBD is derived from is considered legal by the federal government, CBD is still generally illegal. However, there are more laws to consider than just federal laws when it comes to the topic of CBD.

State, Local Laws and CBD

On top of federal laws, there are state and local laws that regulate the sale and use of CBD products in the US. Every state, and even counties within states, will have slightly different laws and regulations for CBD products derived from hemp plants. These laws and regulations do tend to change often, and it is best to always look up the current laws for CBD products in the area you are living. However, they will vary greatly and widely when it comes to where and how CBD can be purchased and consumed.

For example, in the past few years, there are a few states that now allow the sale of CBD in food and beverages, including Colorado and Maine. However, Michigan and Ohio have laws that clearly state that CBD cannot be sold in food or drinks. And there is even less clarity when it comes to states like Washington, which doesn’t have any clear laws regulating CBD in general. And even with the recent legalization in New York state, there is conflicting guidance when it comes to CBD. The New York City Department of health does not allow CBD to be added to food or drinks, but the New York Agriculture Department stated it was legal to sell CBD edibles marketed as dietary supplements. This lack of clarity is the reason you should always check your state’s website to determine what is and is not currently legal in terms of CBD use and sales in your state.

Bars, Restaurants and CBD

But even if you understand the federal and local laws about CBD, some bars and restaurants in the US are opting to operate in the grey area of these laws. You may have noticed a bar or restaurant selling CBD cocktails or infused snacks. But in the eyes of the FDA, these sales are similar to dosing food or drinks with illegal drugs, and is considered illegal. But some restaurants and bars are betting on a low risk of the FDA finding and pursuing them on a legal level for selling CBD-infused food and beverages.

However, even if CBD is considered illegal to sell in food and drinks in your state, it might be legal to sell CBD oil or tinctures separately. That means that some restaurants and bars are listing CBD oil as a separate menu item, with the option to add it to a cocktail or coffee. And there is a growing demand among consumers for these tinctures to create CBD-infused drinks as they become more commonplace. But, if a restaurant or bar wants to add CBD to their menu, they need to extensively research the local, state, and federal laws that apply to their business.

A nice CBD coffee, cocktail, or juice can be an incredibly refreshing replacement for a cocktail at happy hour. However, the day when this can be offered in every state in the US legally is a bit off in the future. There are more state and local laws allowing the sale of CBD in food and beverages, but there is still a lot of room for interpretation when combined with federal law.

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