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New CBD Law Could Create More Hassles For New York Bodegas

New CBD Law Could Create More Hassles For New York Bodegas
PHOTO Phil Roeder

Economics

New CBD Law Could Create More Hassles For New York Bodegas

Legislators in New York want to license the CBD marketplace.

Step inside any given bodega on the streets of New York City and you’ll find displays for a variety of CBD products somewhere between the Horny Goat Weed and the Stackers 2s. Much like everywhere else in the United States, convenience stores, trucks stops and other places where people purchase gasoline and snacks or just ask to use the bathroom have stocked their shelves with hemp-derived CBD in hopes of striking it rich on one of the most insane trends to ever sweep the country.

And why wouldn’t they? Some of the latest data shows that the CBD sector alone could be worth in upwards of $22 billion by 2022. However, New York store owners have noticed that the same customers who come in for energy drinks and sodas are not at all interested in purchasing CBD products. Sales are weak. CBD just isn’t the hand-over-fist money-maker that some might have predicted it would be when they dedicated retail space to these products. Some are even likely to ditch CBD entirely if the state passes a bill currently sitting on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk calling for strict regulations on the manufacturing and sale of CBD products.

New York lawmakers recently passed a measure that would force any retailer who sells the popular hemp derivative to get a license from the Department of Agriculture and Markets. Not only that, but license holders would need to renew these permissions every couple of years. The bill would also require stores that carry CBD to undergo regular inspections. And this includes checking the retailer’s criminal history. It is a huge departure from the wild west ideals these stores have enjoyed for years. And, for some of these store owners, carrying CBD is more of a hassle than it’s worth. After all, why would anyone want to be put through the wringers for a product that doesn’t sell?

Well, lawmakers say it is selling somewhere. And the market has swollen into some kind of monster without a cage. The latest proposal, which was introduced by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, aims to nip that insanity in the bud by not only imposing licensing restrictions, but also mandating laboratory testing and other requirements on production. The state wants to create a scene where everyone who purchases CBD knows exactly what they are getting and that it is fit for consumption.

It is actually an interesting move considering that there is research showing that most of the hemp-derived CBD products being sold are not living up to the standards printed on their labels. Many of these products contain more or less CBD than advertised. In some cases, these products even contain enough THC (the intoxicating component of the cannabis plant) to cause a person to fail a drug test.

Members of the cannabis trade believe the new CBD law would help sort out consumer confusion and force out the fly-by-nights

The proposal is “more or less to put a tamper on how wild the CBD market has been for the better part of the last five or six years,” Jacob Plowden, co-founder of the Cannabis Cultural Association, told Bedford and Bowery. “I’ve actually had a family member tell me, ‘Oh, I spent 80 bucks on some CBD at this health spot.’ I was like, ‘Why would you do that?’ And he told me they did nothing for him and I was just like, ‘Did they have any instructions on it? What was the brand?” He was like, ‘I don’t even remember. It just said CBD on it. I just ate them and they did nothing.’”

Although the New York City health department recently put the kibosh on the sale of CBD food products while the FDA figures out how to handle them, this bill would give stores the right to carry non-food CBD items like oils, vapes and pills under the “dietary supplement” provision in their retail food license.

Still “not a lot of people” are stopping by these shops for CBD, according to some bodega owners. Many stopped selling the stuff once the ban on food and beverages was made official in July. And most of these shop owners are not at all enthused about trying to get back into the CBD business.

“I don’t want to sell it,” said another bodega worker. “I tried selling the gummies two months ago, was not good.”

If the Governor signs the bill, it might even put more of a dent in CBD sales. New York hemp farmers would also be required to hold a license to cultivate plants specifically for the state’s CBD market. They would have to pay $500 for the license and an additional fee depending on how many acres they grow. To stop retailers from just importing CBD products from other states, the bill would also require that CBD brought in from anywhere else be manufactured under the same standards as New York. Anyone selling CBD products without a license or dealing in products that do not follow the state’s ingredients, quality and sanitation standards, would be subject to fines or worse. It’s all about creating accountability for the CBD market, something that has been discounted thus far. Right now, nobody has any idea what they are buying or selling.

“I know [bodegas] wouldn’t take a meat or dairy product that hasn’t been tested by a third-party lab,” Plowden said. “I think it’s about being able to centralize holistic and actually lab-tested products that you know are coming from actual people who actually care about what they’re putting in their products and what they’re giving to consumers.”

TELL US, would you or have you bought CBD at a bodega?

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