Licensees urged to ‘give CBD a whirl’

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Something different: should pubs stock CBD drinks?
Something different: should pubs stock CBD drinks?

Related tags: Fsa, Cannabis

Pub operators should take a chance on CBD drinks, one publican who stocks them has advised.

This comes as the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued CBD-drinks producers a deadline to provide more information about their products.

CBD companies must submit valid novel food authorisation applications before 31 March 2021 to be allowed to remain on the market after this date. 

For a CBD product to be legal in this country, it must contain a maximum limit of 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content or less – the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. 

It was pinned as one of the food and drink trends to watch this year, with drinks giants Molson Coors and Diageo developing their own products. 

Brendan Padfield owns the Unruly Pig in Woodbridge, Suffolk and stocks the cannabis-infused drink Green Monkey. 

Customers at the Unruly Pig can try a Green Grinder cocktail
Customers at the Unruly Pig can try a Green Grinder cocktail

Curious customers

He described customers’ reactions to CBD as “curiosity, smiles, interest”. 

He explained: “Has it been a best-seller? No. Has it held its own? It certainly has.

“We like to push the envelope here in all forms. For example, on our wine list we have an edgy and quirky section. When CBD products came along, they were prompted by one of our customers who is majorly into the therapeutic side in terms of beauty, health products, etc, of THC. 

“It has certainly worked in terms of saying to the customer ‘well look, here is something different, give it a try’.”

This week, the pub added a ‘Green Grinder’ cocktail to its bar – a blend of vodka, Green Monkey, lemonade and elderflower liqueur. It has had relatively good sales so far – with 15 sold last weekend – according to the pub.

As a former lawyer, Padfield said he would be the first to shelve CBD if a legal ban was was ever imposed.

He explained: “But at the moment there seems to be this limbo, nobody is saying it's unsafe, neither are we saying it has any health qualities. 

“My guess is that [the FSA probe] is going to be a prolonged process, there is nobody saying that it should be stopped currently.

“There is a lot of customer and anecdotal evidence saying that it does an awful lot of good. 

“Why not stock it? Give it a whirl and present something different?”

Pragmatic step

Food Standards Agency (FSA) chief executive Emily Miles said of the deadline: “The actions that we’re taking are a pragmatic and proportionate step in balancing the protection of public health with consumer choice.

“It’s now up to industry to supply this information so that the public can be reassured that CBD is safe and what it says it is.”

Several CBD drinks suppliers have criticised the implication there is not enough research on the impact of the ingredient. 

Hannah Glasson, founder of CBD-infused sparkling soft drinks company Intune, said it would work with the FSA and was keen to educate consumers on what is in its drinks.

However, she added: “While a lot of lawyers will see the benefits from this news, for start-ups like us, innovating in this space and showing complete transparency without legislation from above this will be a major financial hit.”

Local authorities have been advised that businesses should be able to sell their existing CBD products during this time, provided they are not incorrectly labelled, are not unsafe, and do not contain illegal substances.

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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