Updated with comment from the California Department of Public Health



Many consumers regard CBD as the magic cannabinoid — a therapeutic agent that heals bodies without messing with heads. In hipster, circles, CBD is like a super-food on par with acai and baobab in purported healthful benefits. But according to the State of California, CBD, whether it’s derived from cannabis or industrial hemp, is not a food ingredient or dietary supplement fit for humans or animals.

The California Department of Public Health, which oversees cannabis manufacturing and edibles production, released an updated FAQ last week that explicitly states CBD is not allowed in food, drinks, confections, condiments or chewing gum not manufactured for the legal cannabis market.

Therefore, although California currently allows the manufacturing and sales of cannabis products (including edibles), the use of industrial hemp as the source of CBD to be added to food products is prohibited. 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.

As the CannaLaw blog noted, the Bureau of Cannabis Control will not allow licensed retailers to sell hemp-CBD products.

I just talked with guy who’s awaiting federal approval on wine infused with CBD. He’s confident TTB approval is forthcoming, which would make California prohibition moot. I’ve sent emails to makers other CBD products.

UPDATE: I posed these questions Monday to the California Department of Public Health and await its response:

  • What was the impetus for the CDPH updating its FAQ on CBD as a food ingredient/dietary supplement? There have been many stories in the news about cafes, bars and breweries adding CBD to juices, cocktails and beer. Did the rise in CBD popularity spur the CDPH’s action?
  • Will the CDPH enforce its prohibition? How? There are many CBD snack foods and beverages on shelves in stores and cafes. Many breweries continued to produce serve CBD-infused products even after being contacted by the federal TTB. Bars and cafes continue to promote CBD on their social media and serve CBD to customers.
  • Will or can the CDPH issue citations? Will or can the CDPH send law enforcement to confiscate products in stores?
  • Will there be penalties for businesses that continue to sell infused CBD products? What kind of penalties? Monetary? Loss of licenses? Arrests?

The California Department of Public Health answered some of my questions:

CBD and CBD oil, whether sourced from industrial hemp or from cannabis, cannot be added to regular foods or beverages. Under U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules, CBD and CBD oil are prohibited as food additives. California adopts FDA regulations, so CBD cannot be added to food and/or drinks in California. Just as is true for THC, CBD and CBD oil are allowable only in edible cannabis products that are produced according to the California Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulations and Safety Act, including a source, manufacturing, distribution, testing and retail supply chain that is completely separate from regular foods and beverages. Consumers can purchase products infused with CBD from cannabis at licensed cannabis retailers.

CDPH is aware that there has been some confusion on the legal use of CBD and CBD oil since the legalization of medicinal and adult-use cannabis in California. We will continue to work with all of our partners, including industry and local public health departments, in order to educate them on CBD and CBD oil and to assist manufacturers as needed to assure compliance.

It doesn’t sound like there’s any bite to the CDPH’s bark.