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Why American Chefs Are So Obsessed With Putting CBD in Everything

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Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


Why American Chefs Are So Obsessed With Putting CBD in Everything

Mainstream chefs are dying to use America’s new favorite cannabinoid in every dish that crosses their station bound for your plate. And they probably will — eventually.

Cannabis-infused dishes are popular, but not extremely popular, as in: “Wow! I could eat this every day, in the way I eat breakfast or drink coffee!” More like popular as in cronuts, or matcha or any other of-the-moment food trend.

This is partially because you can only eat so many low-dose THC marshmallows and salmon blinis — although they are delicious! — before you descend into a dissociative delirium. But it’s mostly because THC products are illegal in most states, and remain strictly regulated in the states where you can legally buy cannabis products in stores.

But fear not, because thanks to Donald Trump and the 2019 Farm Bill, enterprising chefs can still serve their signature dishes in an innovative and trendy way that isn’t just 420 friendly but also 24/7/365 friendly (and also less them upcharge diners). They just have to add CBD, the everyday, all-day, effectively legal cannabinoid.

As CNBC reported recently, 75% of mainstream American chefs surveyed by the National Restaurant Association and the American Culinary Association believe that CBD (and cannabis)-infused food will be extremely popular in 2019, on par with burger joints adding Impossible-branded, plant-based proteins to their menus.

This only confirms what many already know to be true because, like lemonade, CBD was a popular thing to put in food — and it still is. 

The cannabinoid is already among the hottest add-ons in wellnesscosmetics and food — and has remained so despite warnings from the federal Food and Drug Administration and limited “crackdowns” from regulators and health inspectors in states where recreational cannabis is legal, like California, and where it is not, like New York. Authorities have instructed merchants and restauranteurs to remove certain CBD-infused products from menus and shelves and have also instructed certain unscrupulous actors to quit marketing CBD products with patent-medicine-level promises of miraculous cures.

AS CNBC noted, this heat has driven at least some of the demand for CBD-infused food and beverages underground and has compelled other entrepreneurs more concerned about being late than respecting the law to the punch to go ahead with their CBD treats.

“There’s people out there that are willing to risk not being in compliance with local and other regulations in order to not risk being left behind,” Donna Hood Crecca, a principal at food-service industry B2B platform Technomic, told CNBC.

Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s outgoing FDA chief, was at least receptive to the CBD craze and the agency has set its first hearings for allowing CBD to be added to food and drinks on May 31. 

However, the agency has plenty else to worry about, such as regulating —or banning, or doing something — about much more popular e-cigarette brands, like the ubiquitous JUUL.

In the meantime, many bars, coffee shops and restaurants appear willing to risk ire from regulators by slipping CBD into mocktails and coffee drinks, smoothies and other products. And CBD-infused brownies remain staples in bodegas, delis, and even mainstream grocery stores in big cities like New York, where — were you so inclined — you can spend $8 or more for a lemonade, “enhanced” with 15 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD.

Given CBD’s popularity and the relative ease with which the cannabinoid can be isolated from abundant raw plant material, “When will CBD be in everything?” is a fair question. It easily could be soon. Absolutely nothing is stopping consumers from demanding it and the market from providing it — not Trump, not the FDA, nor health inspectors, try as they may.

And what’s bad about that? Nothing, really, aside from general distaste for things trendy and popular and marketed in less-than-straightforward ways. Which, if and when CBD becomes a standard additive, will be a thing of the past. But lament not. For special occasions, like 420, we’ll always have CBD.

TELL US, what’s your favorite CBD-infused treat?

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