Though a joint and a glass of Malbec might be the perfect pairing, California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control just issued an industry advisory warning restauranteurs and cannabis businesspeople that pairing weed with alcohol in any way is illegal. In the memo, Californian officials answer some of the industries’ most pressing questions. Can you sell weed and alcohol in the same place? Might customers smoke their weed at your restaurant? How about infusing liquor with CBD from hemp? Determined to keep cannabis out of alcohol businesses, California took a hard line against weed and its sister plant hemp this week.
California Clamps Down On Legal Weed
California might have legalized adult use cannabis, but the Golden State’s has imposed some strict laws on its production and sale. For instance, you cannot legally pair weed and alcohol in any restaurant or bar. Though you can hold alcohol and cannabis manufacturing and sale licenses simultaneously, these two industries cannot overlap in the slightest.
Per California’s cannabis laws, you cannot sell alcohol, tobacco and weed in the same location. You cannot produce alcohol and cannabis in the same place, even if you hold both licenses.
Furthermore, restaurant and bar owners cannot allow customers to bring in their own weed. If you hold a restaurant license, your establishment is technically a ‘public place’. And under California’s cannabis laws, it is illegal to smoke weed in public. This is still true even if your restaurant is closed or it’s after hours.
CBD-Infused Food and Drink Are Illegal
These regulations are also bad news for businesses looking to capitalize on the CBD trend. As the state’s weed laws currently exist, you cannot legally sell even a CBD cocktail made from hemp. Not only is CBD non-psychoactive, meaning that it cannot get you ‘high’, but it’s naturally occurring in other plants besides weed.
The California Alcohol Beverage Control states, “Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement.”
This could be disastrous for business. CBD, which is soaring in popularity, will have a market value of $2 billion by 2020. It became popular largely because many consumers claim it has the same health benefits as psychoactive THC, but without the high. This means that you can infuse coffee, cocktails, lotions, deodorant and pretty much anything with CBD and go about your day normally. You can, of course, take CBD as an oil, but it has a harsh, earthy taste.
The logic behind California’s CBD and alcohol ban verges on hypocrisy. The FDA has only approved one medical cannabis drug and, overall, don’t admit that cannabis has medicinal value. On top of that, cannabis is still a Schedule I substance federally. Despite the federal government’s regulations, California has legalized both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. Why should a lack of FDA testing get in the way of legalizing a cannabinoid—CBD—now, especially when THC is legal?
California’s Regulations Endanger Cannabis Businesses
Infused dinners are an increasingly popular trend, especially in affluent foodie cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. This can mean anything from pairing wine with joints to adding CBD to your dessert. In many cases, they are lavish, multi-course meals where each course contains a slight amount of THC. But under California’s cannabis laws, chefs and mixologists can do none of these things. By enforcing strict weed laws, California may push cannabis back into the black market, at least when it comes to cannabis and alcohol.