R15 general manager Joel York just wanted to have fun.
York had seen Los Angeles restaurant Gracias Madre use hemp CBD oil in cocktails, a trend mirrored in several San Francisco bars. So he dreamt up “Kronic Aid,” a boozy strawberry lemonade made from an infusion of pineapple, vodka, hop flowers and the non-intoxicating marijuana extract with a taste similar to skunky olive oil.
Bartenders mixed the infusion with lemon juice, triple sec and simple sugar, and started selling the $10 drinks around Oct. 18. They were novel for Sacramento, selling relatively well and were supposed to be the subject of an article in The Bee.
After The Bee called the Sacramento Police Department for comment Wednesday, though, an officer who serves as a California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control liaison stopped by R15 and made the manager on duty pull the infusion off the shelf, SPD spokesman Officer Marcus Basquez said. No citations were issued.
The ABC forbids licensed alcohol sellers from mixing CBD oil into drinks or food, citing a lack of information about possible effects. Never mind that York bought the oil from Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op’s wellness section, no prescription or proof of age needed.
“Until the FDA rules that industrial hemp-derived CBD oil and CBD products can be used as a food or California makes a determination that they are safe to use for human and animal consumption, CBD products are not an approved food, food ingredient, food additive, or dietary supplement,” the ABC regulation reads.
“ABC licensees may not manufacture, produce, or sell CBD or CBD products, or any products that contain CBD. It does not matter if the CBD comes from industrial hemp or from cannabis. This also includes nonalcoholic beverage products and edibles.”
CBD, formally known as cannabidiol, is typically pulled from marijuana plants using a cold, highly pressured carbon dioxide device. Its inherent lack of THC, the chemical compound that gets stoners high, earned CBD the nickname “the hippie’s disappointment.”
In this case, it was York — who said he doesn’t use products with THC — who was left feeling bummed out.
“I just think it’s kind of silly, especially if they’re still doing it in San Francisco and L.A.,” York said. “But I’ll think of something else that’s going to be fun and cool to put out in place of it.”
CBD proponents swear by its properties as a miracle drug capable of treating anxiety, inflammation, epilepsy and more. UC Davis scientists have also began researching whether it could have the same effects on dogs and cats, Capitol Public Radio reported. The first FDA-approved drug made from marijuana, CBD-based Epidiolex, is now available to people with a prescription for treating seizures.
While hemp remains federally illegal, a Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman told Indianapolis TV station WTHR in November that the agency wouldn’t go after CBD users — and urged the state not to do so as well.