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Fresh&Co offers CBD menu amidst the regulatory uncertainty


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Fresh&Co, a fast-casual New York restaurant chain is debuting with a limited time period for cannabidiol infused menu ahead of the unofficial April 20 marijuana holiday. The date holds a significant importance in the culture of marijuana and many companies will be seen giving huge discounts on CBD products and infused food & drinks.

The restaurant follows a health-oriented, vegetable forward menu and is planning to jump on the CBD bandwagon soon despite of the New York city health department crackdown on CBD infused food products.

The CBD menu created by chef Craig Rispoli, will launch on Friday and run through April 30 at the 18-unit brand featuring a wide variety of cannabinoid, or CBD oil infused food and drink items.

“With the growing popularity of CBD and its benefits being realized, we wanted to use our window of opportunity to offer a healthier variant of CBD-infused food items,” a Fresh&Co representative said.

CBD additives or supplements are derived from hemp plant which belongs to cannabis genus. It has anti-inflammatory characteristics which helps relieve stress, pain, swelling and improves sleep patterns. It is a non-psychoactive compound which is found with negligible traces of THC, tetrahydro cannabinoid that cause the ‘high’ when people smoke weed.

The Food and Drug Administration prohibits the use of CBD infused edibles, the agency is yet to set regulatory policies on the use of CBD foods and drinks and therefore the CBD infused edibles remain in a limbo. Also, the potential health benefits claimed by the use of CBD products is not backed up by any solid research or study which is causing further confusion amongst users.

The agency has declared a public hearing regarding the regulatory issues in May where it will address the use of CBD infused edibles. Till now the FDA has jointly issued warning letters with FTC to 3 companies who marketed their CBD products as a supplement to treat cancer and severe ailments like Alzheimer’s.

The Fresh & Co menu will include the following items: Half-Baked Salad made with hemp cakes, mixed hemp greens, red onion, carrots,sea beans, crispy onions, jalapeno skhug (a Middle Eastern green harissa sauce), beets and CBD-infused ginger cashew aioli for $11.95; Blazed Beet Sandwich made with hemp cakes, mixed hemp greens, sea beans, red onion, radish, jalapeno skhug and CBD-infused ginger cashew aioli served on beet bread for $10.95; CBD chocolate truffles for $7.95; CBD cold brew coffee for $8.95; and CBD Infused Pink Honey Ginger’ade for $7.95.

The Fresh & Co spokesperson said that their new menu is made of small batches, using wholesome and clean ingredients which promotes a healthy diet. The restaurant says that though they understand CBD is a highly new product in the market and is also one of the hottest ingredients being used in edibles, they have contrasting opinions from the New York Health Department which bans the substance in foods and drinks.

CBD infused food products can significantly make the user feel calmer and more relaxed, but they do not include a ‘high’ feeling like marijuana laced products.

In December, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration added “hemp” as a new category to their cannabis class designation with high concentration of CBD and extremely low derivatives of THC ( no more than 0.3% of the substance).

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Although the CBD infused cold brew and truffles might be available at Fresh & Co after their launch of the new menu, they will vanish from the list by July. Heath department will begin issuing violations for noncompliance in October, 2019 which has strengthened companies and retailers to sell CBD edibles till then.

Nonetheless, the New York City health officials have already began cracking down restaurants that serve CBD infused foods and drinks, allegedly seizing products worth thousands of dollars ahead of the grace period by five months. Other similar cases have been registered in Ohio, Georgia and Maine, as city and state officials are rushing to comply with the federal law standards.

Despite the uncertainty about CBD legality and usage, companies and restaurants seem to push their limits with the drug. Besides Fresh & Co, the Denver based Illegal Burger introduced a CBD infused burger bowl this week in lieu of the 4/20.

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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