KeepHealthCare.ORG – Health district cracks down on cannabis-infused lattes
A “wellness” latte.(Photo: Courtesy image)
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — Bainbridge Island restaurateur Brendan McGill created a buzz in Seattle this spring when he added lattes infused with a cannabis oil to the menu of his downtown cafe.
Maybe too much buzz.
Seattle and King County Public Health told McGill to stop serving the cannabidiol (CBD)-infused “wellness” drinks at his Cafe Hitchcock in April, following a wave of publicity. So McGill started offering CBD lattes at his Bainbridge Island cafe instead.
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“While we work our political angles to get our friends at King County Public Health educated about CBDs, it occurs that Bainbridge Island is blissfully in Kitsap County,” McGill wrote in an Instagram post last week.
Kitsap Public Health District was not feeling the bliss. District staff contacted McGill Thursday and asked him to stop selling drinks with CBD oil.
District environmental health director John Kiess said that while CBD extracted from hemp seeds is “generally recognized as safe,” CBD derived from other parts of the hemp plant is not approved as a food additive by the Food and Drug Administration. District officials said there is concern consumers could be exposed to chemicals used to grow and process hemp plants.
McGill was selling oil sourced from hemp plants and not hemp seeds (he pointed out there is little CBD found in hemp seeds). In an interview Thursday, McGill said the oil he was using was from a farm in Oregon that extensively tests its products for chemicals and he was confident it was safe.
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“I have the absolute best source possible,” McGill said.
McGill added that businesses like head shops and health food stores quietly sell products infused with CBD. He feels he was singled out by regulators because he was open about what he was doing.
“Basically all we did was bring it into the light,” McGill said.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many compounds present in cannabis plants. CBD is commonly used in medicinal cannabis products because users find it has a calming effect on their bodies without the psychoactive effect of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the compound most associated with recreational marijuana.
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential,” a 2017 World Health Organization report concluded.
McGill said he added 10 milligrams of CBD extract to his lattes. The morning beverage made his body feel relaxed while keeping his head clear, he said.
“I’ve been starting my day every day with this and I’ve been remarkably effective,” he said.
In Washington, CBD oils extracted from hemp fall into a legal gray area.
CBD products derived from marijuana plants can be legally sold in the state’s recreational marijuana market. But State Liquor and Cannabis Board spokesman Brian Smith said another business, like a restaurant, can’t resell CBD products purchased from state-licensed retailers.
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CBD oil sourced from hemp (a cannabis plant low in THC and high in CBD grown for a wide range of applications) is not regulated by the state and is widely available to consumers. Such cannabis products are still federally scheduled drugs, Smith said, but aren’t being regulated.
“As those sources are not regulated, they are also not tested,” Smith said. “It could be anything.”
McGill is hopeful he can convince Washington lawmakers to create an exception for foods infused with CBD from hemp. The state already bucked federal law to create a recreational marijuana market, he noted, so why not approve CBD as a food additive?
“For now I’m just in a holding pattern,” he said.
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