Glass bottles of iced teas sold at City Dock Coffee are marketed as “body-relaxing” and “mood-elevating.”
Though the coffee shop and others like it in and around Annapolis have received an advisory from the Anne Arundel County Health Department that the sale of such teas isn’t permitted — staff at the store noticed other shops were selling similar infusions of the product derived from the hemp plant.
This story has been updated to reflect the relationship between CBD and the hemp plant.
On the back of the bottle: “Our body-relaxing, mood elevating CBD infusions deliver a cool, calm and delicious experience like no other.”
County Health Department officials know retailers have an interest in adding CBD to foods like coffee, kombucha, ice cream, cookies and smoothies. But, it’s still not permitted.
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“CBD has not been approved as a food additive by the FDA," department spokeswoman Elin Jones wrote in an email. “Therefore, food items that have been infused with CBD should be considered adulterated and not approved to be used, sold or served.”
The infused tea is distributed by a New York company, The Hemp Division. The company states on its website that the hemp infusions “work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to support health and well-being,” according to the website.
Cannabidiol or CBD is a product of the hemp plant and can be added into beverages like smoothies, coffee and tea. Coffee shops and stores are selling infusion of the ingredient with food and beverages that some believe helps with anxiety, chronic pain and other health issues.
Regardless of the interest, a business selling, manufacturing, offering or receiving food that is considered to be “adulterated” the state health department recommends that an “order of abatement” should be issued, Jones wrote in her email.
Shops like City Dock Coffee began selling CBD infused teas earlier this year, though the food additive has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the Maryland Department of Health.
City Dock manager Dillon Sztuk acknowledged that the company has seen the health department advisory and a department employee who happens to be a regular informed them of regulation. Initially, the coffee shop stopped selling the tea until a smoke shop opened up nearby and started selling the products.
“They are selling CBD infused stuff and so we just decided to try our hand and started selling the teas again,” Dillon Sztuk explained.
Sztuk said the coffee store owner had noticed a trend at different coffee shops and restaurants selling CBD.
“We just wanted to get into that market ourselves,” Sztuk said. “That was the motivation, partially because (CBD) was really helpful for her and it is something that other coffee shops are doing so we are just trying to keep up.”
When customers enter the Market Space location, they are not only greeted by a barista but also a small sign in the corner with a description of the little CBD oil vials. In the description it states that “CBD does not cause the feeling of being ‘high’ that is often associated with being cannabis.”
The infused tea is branded with moods such as calm and rest with flavors like turmeric ginger honey and lemonade.
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Each tea has a certain amount of CBD, ranging from 10 to 25 milligrams. The customers who tend to show interest in the products are already familiar with CBD, Sztuk said.
“It seems like there have been a lot of people who were already using CBD products, and those are the people who seem to be the most interested in it,” he said with a laugh. “Most of the time they know more about it than I do.”
The interest in such products has begun to expand, said Travis Johnson, who has worked within the vape industry for three years.
“There is a growing trend of people who have been very interested in cannabis styled products for either ailments, general pain or long standing conditions,” Johnson said.
Customers he interacts with are “hesitant about the medical marijuana market” so they turn to CBD, he said.
“For most people, their last experience with cannabis was when they were teenagers in the 60s kind of thing,” he said. Still, since he started to work within the industry, he noted that popularity has increased.
“We’be seen (CBD) growing in popularity with the development of medical marijuana market here in Maryland. There is a a lot more openness to cannabis as the market opens up,” he said.