California's CBD Cocktail Ban Starts in 2019

A new bill will keep CBD-infused booze out of Californians' very relaxed hands.

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Dec 21 2018, 8:43pm

Photo: Muhammetcan Arpaay/EyeEm via Getty Images

Los Angeles drinkers seeking some chill with their buzz now have just over a week left to have their cocktails legally dosed with CBD.

If you've somehow avoided 2018's constant onslaught of CBD content, cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound that's derived from cannabis. Although there are few scientific studies that prove its efficacy in treating medical problems, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can provide relief from headaches and anxiety, and it's also purported to have pain- and inflammation-reducing properties.

Earlier this year, California legislators introduced Assembly Bill 2914, which would ban the use of CBD in alcoholic drinks. It was approved by Governor Jerry Brown in late September. The new legislation officially takes effect on January 1, 2019, and as reported by Eater, it's one of a few food-related changes for the new year. Other legislation going into effect includes a statewide ban on plastic straws, the legalized sale of home-cooked foods, and the decriminalization of street vending.

Specifically, the Assembly Bill 2914 prohibits "an alcoholic beverage licensee from, at its licensed premises, selling, offering, or providing cannabis or cannabis products." In those establishments, "no alcoholic beverage shall be manufactured, sold, or offered for sale if it contains tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabinoids, regardless of source." Restaurants and bars that violate these measures could see a suspension, or even loss, of their alcohol license.

With the bill's enforcement looming, restaurants have started to wean drinkers from their weed-infused options since September. Several of the spots on an LAist guide to cannabis cocktails appear to no longer have CBD cocktails on their menus.

California legislators are enacting the bill in an attempt to protect consumer safety, according to the bill's authors. As stated in further documentation from the state assembly, "Mixing alcohol and cannabis can lead to dangerous interactions, including a compounding impairment effect. This is why states that have legalized adult-use or medical-use cannabis strongly warn against the consumption of alcohol and cannabis at the same time."

However, as reported by Tonic, the effects of mixing CBD and alcohol are still inconclusive, and could depend a lot on the individual. Tonic cites some studies in which CBD was actually shown to have benefits when taken with alcohol.

Despite California's sudden hard stance on CBD and alcohol, Los Angeles was actually ground zero for the CBD cocktail trend in the first place. In a separate Eater report (from this past 4/20), the rise of boozy CBD drinks owes some inspiration to bartender Jason Eisner, who started adding them to the menu of the trendy plant-based restaurant Gracias Madre around 2015. According to the menu on Gracias Madre's website, the restaurant no longer offers any cocktails containing CBD.

Luckily for bicoastal drinkers, those CBD cocktails have since made it across the country. Last month, the New York Times wrote up Queens' Adriaen Block, which calls itself the city's first CBD restaurant and bar. It offers both alcoholic and non-boozy CBD drinks including the "Stoney Negroni" and "Bakin' & Eggs."

Sadly, California cocktail enthusiasts will have to head to brunch on the morning of New Year's Day without CBD to dull the anxiety over whatever bad decisions they might have made the night before. At least they can legally smoke some weed, though.