The Cannabis Cocktail Trend Is Pretty Much Gone in Los Angeles

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LA’s Health Department has a plan to get businesses in compliance with state law

Long before adult-use cannabis consumption became legal in California on January 1, CBD cocktailswere incredibly popular throughout Los Angeles. But a recent look shows that these cocktails have almost disappeared from the LA landscape, while Southern California health departments and restaurants determine how to manage shifts in the policy landscape.

Most Los Angeles bars and restaurants likely reconsidered their approach after California’s Department of Health took a strong anti-cannabis stance in July, and/or after Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2914 in late-September, which outlaws the sale of cannabis mixed with alcoholic beverages. Bars and restaurants must adhere to this very specific legislation, or risk losing a coveted liquor license. As a result, most LA business owners quickly eliminated CBD cocktails from their menus, even though AB 2914 doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2019.

In the wake of AB 2914, several “get CBD cocktails while you can” lists popped up throughout the interwebs, but many of the mentioned businesses have removed any mention of CBD cocktails from menus in recent weeks. Early CBD cocktail trailblazers like Gracias Madre and Pattern Barremoved them soon after AB 2914 was passed, along with Otium and Broken Shaker. For now, it appears that the only bars serving CBD with alcohol are ETA, and Prank Bar — although Prank Bar is using a bit of a loophole by serving cocktails with terpenes, the essential oils inside the cannabis plant.

Locally, health departments have shaped their own policies. Earlier this year, Orange County Public Health warned a Costa Mesa cafe to stop serving CBD in drinks, or face fines; the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is taking a slightly less punitive approach. David Chun is Chief Environmental Specialist for the County Health Department, and advocates an educational approach during the restaurant and bar inspection process:

“For us, we decided to start educating retailers. When we do inspections at retail food facilities, we try to educate and explain that (CBD) is not an approved product. We ask them to comply. But in terms of point deductions, we’ll do this educational campaign until July 2019. After that, we’ll have to start deducting points (from the overall inspection grade).”

The short explanation: Only a licensed dispensary can sell cannabis products. According to Chan, the Health Department will continue this path until July 2019. After the deadline, his department will enforce the law. Chan is hopeful that businesses send all non-compliant CBD back to the manufacturer, or destroy it. If unapproved CBD is on the premises, this will negatively affect the establishment’s health inspection letter grade.

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