As the legal status of cannabidiol (CBD) becomes more permissive, bars and cafés that offer CBD-infused menu items are becoming increasingly popular. In this article we lay out what these voguish establishments are about.
What Is CBD?
CBD is one of over 100 biologically active compounds found in the resin of cannabis plants (marijuana and hemp). These compounds are known collectively as cannabinoids, and many of them have not yet been studied for their effects on humans.
Unlike its fellow cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not cause a “high” and therefore has little abuse potential. Because of this, CBD enjoys a much less restrictive legal status than does THC and is generally more easily available. CBD is of interest because of its purported health benefits, although many of these are as yet lacking in research evidence.
In order for CBD to be ingested, it must be dissolved in oil. As such, CBD is commercially available as “CBD oil” and produced with a number of different edible plant oils, such as coconut oil, hemp seed oil, or sunflower seed oil. It can then be ingested orally, rectally, or by applying it to the skin. It can also be added to food or drink for consumption.
What Is a CBD Bar?
With the recent trend toward legal tolerance of CBD and other cannabis products, some bars and cafés have seized on the opportunity to expand their menus by adding CBD oil to their drinks and food. These have become known as CBD bars and CBD cafés.
Many CBD bars and cafés were preexisting establishments that simply incorporated CBD into their existing menus. There are, however, CBD establishments that have operated with CBD included on their menu from the start. There are even franchises based on CBD and other cannabis-related foods, such as the Amsterdam Company Coffeehouse franchise.
What CBD Products Are Served?
CBD bars and cafés add CBD oil to a number of menu items, such as cocktails, coffees, teas, smoothies, lattés, and food items.
Many also curate and sell their own CBD products, such as:
- Bottled CBD oil
- Health/protein bars
- Pet treats
Are CBD Bars Legal?
The legal status of cannabis products in general is in a state of flux and can be confusing. Laws are generally more permissive of CBD than they are of THC-containing products because it doesn’t cause intoxication and has a low addiction potential.
In 2018, the U.S. Agriculture Improvement Act (also known as the Farm Bill) legalized CBD, as long as it is derived from the hemp plant (and not the marijuana plant), is grown by a federally licenced producer, and contains no more than 0.3% THC. Any CBD that doesn’t meet these specifics remains a Schedule 1 substance, which are drugs with a high abuse potential but have no approved medical use.
Meanwhile, as the FDA continues to vacillate on whether or not they will enforce CBD regulations, various states and even cities have made their own laws and regulations governing CBD and cannabis products in general. The National Conference of State Legislatures maintains a database where people can check on local laws pertaining to CBD.
What Should I Look for in a CBD Bar?
The primary concern when considering trying out an establishment that serves or sells CBD products is where their products come from and what’s in them.
At the present time, the FDA does not regulate or monitor the safety and purity of CBD products. As such, there are products in circulation of questionable purity, quality, and even safety. There have been reports of contamination of CBD products by harmful impurities, such as:
- Heavy metals
Reputable producers of CBD products provide customers with access to their third-party certification by independent labs of the purity and absence of contaminants in their products, either on their website or available upon request. It would be reasonable to expect a CBD bar or café to make such certification of the products they sell, just as many restaurants provide nutritional information upon request.
Are There Different Kinds of CBD to Choose From?
CBD is available in two main types of formulations:
1) Full-spectrum CBD: contains many different cannabinoids and other chemical compounds besides CBD (such as terpenes and flavonoids), which may give an additive effect known as the “entourage effect”
2) CBD isolate: chemically purified to contain only CBD, with virtually all other chemicals removed
It’s impossible to say if either type is better than the other. Proper clinical trials into any potential health benefits of CBD are very limited or even nonexistent for various health benefit claims, and data about which type of CBD is better is even more limited.
Many CBD products are available with special dietary needs in mind, such as:
- Gluten free
- Vegan or vegan friendly
People who are seeking CBD products should be careful to ensure that their choice contains only CBD. CBD is often combined with THC so that there is a high in addition to the effects of the CBD. As such, people may become impaired, which may make returning to work or driving unsafe or unwise.
Are There Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a CBD Bar?
Some people prefer to support products that are produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. Many companies that produce CBD have adopted such practices and label their products accordingly. These may include:
- Field-grown, organically grown, and U.S.-grown crops
- Crops that are non-genetically modified (non-GMO)
- Fair-trade practices for components that are sourced abroad (such as coconut oil).
There are different methods for extracting CBD from the cannabis plant, and some are cleaner and result in greater purity than others. The CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction method is the preferred technique, and some customers look for this in their products. It produces the most pure, residue-free product, but it is a complicated and expensive production method.
Where Can I Find a CBD Bar?
Bars and cafes that have integrated CBD into their menus are increasingly making their appearance as the legal status of CBD loosens and the idea catches on. Because these new businesses are sensational, they are usually reported in the local news media and social media. Anyone interested in finding one of these businesses has only to pay attention to the local media.