State tells Baltimore’s Wild Kombucha to hold off on making CBD-infused drink

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Photo courtesy of Wild Kombucha

Maryland’s health department has put a damper on Wild Kombucha’s plans for a cannabidiol-infused beverage.

A spokesperson for the fermented tea maker maker, which relocated from the county back into the city last year, said this morning the Maryland Department of Health “has told us to hold off on CBD kombucha production.” The product was due to debut on Oct. 1.

“Unfortunately, due to the legal climate surrounding CBD in food products in the state of Maryland, per the request of the state health department, we have decided to postpone the release of our Blood Orange flavor,” co-founder Sid Sharma said in a statement.

Maryland Department of Health spokesperson Maureen Regan said in an email that CBD remains a non-approved food additive under U.S. Food and Drug Administration rules, “so any food or beverage with CBD is considered adulterated.” And under state law, “it is unlawful for any establishment to manufacture, sell, offer for sale or receive in commerce any food that is adulterated,” she said.

Wild Kombucha announced plans last month to debut its CBD-infused blood orange flavor, to go with its eight others. The drink would be made with 25 milligrams of flavorless CBD derived from organically grown hemp in each bottle, and they would have been packaged in clear instead of amber glass (as the firm’s other flavors are bottled in) to better distinguish it.

Wild Kombucha doesn’t plan to debut the new flavor without CBD in the recipe, a spokesperson said.

Sharma told Baltimore Fishbowl in September the company wanted to try out a variety offering the touted¬†benefits of CBD, which is non-psychoactive, unlike its better-known sister cannabinoid, THC. He said multiple other kombucha makers have already debuted CBD-infused flavors, “so we’re definitely not the first.”

As The Sun pointed out in a recent story on the growing CBD food and drink craze, such products are still banned in Maryland, even if local manufacturers or eateries are testing them out.

State health officials have already asked local health departments to report such cases “so that we can forward them to the FDA for further investigation,” Regan previously told The Sun. In Annapolis, The Capital reported advisories from the Anne Arundel County Health Department weren’t deterring shops from selling such drinks, anyway.

Regan said the state health department “has issued two such notices regarding CBD” for processing plants–including the one for Wild Kombucha–while local health departments, entrusted with regulating retailers, have issued and reported 17 orders telling businesses to halt sales of CBD-infused products.

The FDA is currently reviewing potential regulations for CBD-infused goods but has said it’s concerned about misleading product claims, and that they’re still federally unapproved.

Sharma said last month that if regulators did decide to ban CBD in food products or more strictly enforce the rules, Wild Kombucha could simply cease production since it’s all made in-house in Baltimore.

The company is otherwise having a great month, having inked a new distribution deal to sell its kombuchas in 160 Giant grocery stores as of Oct. 1. That began exactly one month after the firm began selling its drinks at 60 Whole Foods stores in the Mid-Atlantic.

This story has been updated.

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Ethan McLeod

Senior Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan has been editing and reporting for Baltimore Fishbowl since fall of 2016. His previous stops include Fox 45, CQ Researcher and Connection Newspapers in Virginia. His freelance writing has been featured in CityLab, Slate, Baltimore City Paper, DCist and elsewhere.
Ethan McLeod
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3 COMMENTS

    • You guys are making great progress in our city,,,congrates…
      It will get better…how hard would it be to get thc in a bottle and sell to the dispenceries?

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