CBD-Infused Foods and Drinks Grow in Popularity at NYC Shops, Cafes

More businesses in New York City are capitalizing on the growing popularity of cannabidiol, or CBD, as merchants tout its health benefits to sell CBD-infused products as varied as pastries, coffee and topical creams.

The controversial compound found in the cannabis plant is said to have several medical benefits, including anti-anxiety, stress relief, pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s even been approved by the FDA to treat seizures linked to two rare forms of epilepsy.

Research is still emerging on the use of CBD for medical conditions, and the jury’s still out on risks and side effects, according to a News 4 I-Team investigation. But with the increased interest in CBD, New York City shops have recognized an opportunity to sell products containing the oil.

Ian Ford sells CBD-infused drinks ranging from $6 to $7, along with lollipops, caramels and jams at his Brooklyn cafe, . He says regulars come in to purchase CBD foods three to four times a week, claiming they help with issues such as arthritis, stress, and even ADHD.

“People are buying this product because it helps them get through their day,” Ford told News 4 New York. “They’re regular people who suffer from stressful jobs and come in to relax. CBD mixed with the caffeine in our coffee gives them the energy to go about their day without the constant stress and anxiety they suffer through.”

Caffeine Underground was the first coffee shop in New York to roll out the drinks in March, and ever since, Ford says his business has improved significantly.

“One-third of our business comes from CBD-infused drinks alone,” he said, adding that inquisitive foreigners also frequent his shop after finding out about it online.

In Two Bridges, Oliver Coffee is also selling coffee infused with cannabinoid. For an additional $3, baristas will add the oil to any drink.

Ultimately, owners of these specialty shops emphasize the importance of informed shopping. Luis Sagar, owner of The Alchemist Kitchen in the East Village, wants his shoppers to come into his store with questions and leave with the knowledge to form their own opinions.

Customers who enter his shop will always have a consultation with a trained herbalist, to limit confusion. “From the beginning, we don’t sell right off the shelf… we like to inform first,” Sagar said.

Sagar sells the CBD in four forms: drops, gel caps, water soluble CBD for infusing drinks, and topical creams and lotions. The four versions are processed differently, but all include CBD in some form.

“CBD is definitely growing in popularity… Alchemist is benefiting [because people] know they’re not walking into some hippie place selling herbs.”

By CHLOE, the popular vegan chain restaurant, has also taken a bite out of the CBD craze and will unveil “Feelz by Chloe” on Sept. 27. It is partnering with CBD lifestyle brand Toast to bring customers more than 25 menu items including cakes, brownies, whoopee-pies and bubble tea.

By CHLOE co-founder Samantha Wasser said in a press release, “I am a big believer in the benefits of CBD and the potential of this ever-expanding industry.”

Other businesses like Bubby’s in Tribeca is selling CBD-infused cocktails. For around $20, you can drink a Banana Rum Old Fashioned or a Summer Margarita — all mixed with a CBD sweetener. Bubby’s partnered with Azuca to introduce a CBD infused sweetener to the menu, which they put in their cocktails, coffees and teas.

CBD and THC are two active ingredients found in marijuana, but unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not create the mind-altering “high” that THC does, according to Medical News Today, a website indexing health news. A number of reputable medical centers are doing research into the safety and effectiveness of CBD, the I-Team reports. One business report predicts the industry could hit $22 billion by 2022.