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New CBD law will protect consumers, sellers say

Craig Zaffe, owner and CEO of ACD Health and Wellness, speaks about the benefits of the new legislation requiring makers and sellers of hemp extract products, including CBD, to test and label their products so consumers will know what they're getting.  Credit: Danielle Silverman

Long Island sellers of CBD products say a new state law will protect consumers from potential harm by helping them make smarter, more informed purchases of the cannabis derivative, which users say can relieve anxiety or pain, but which does not produce a "high."

The legislation signed earlier this month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo requires hemp industry businesses to test and label their products and establishes a state permitting process for growers, processors and sellers of hemp extract and hemp extract products, including CBD.

Oils and creams containing CBD are used by proponents  to promote sleep in addition to relieving anxiety and joint pain. Scientific research into the claims for the non-psychoactive product remains sparse. 

The new measure, which grants the Department of Agriculture and Markets supervision over hemp growers and the Department of Health supervision over hemp extract, takes effect March 9, 90 days from its Dec. 9 signing date. 

The legislation will not "immediately affect" hemp growers already licensed by the agriculture department and does not change the state's policy prohibiting the addition of CBD to food and beverages, a Department of Agriculture spokeswoman said. 

Jessica Naissant, owner of Wake and Bake Cafe, a 330-square-foot store in Valley Stream that sells a wide range of locally made CBD products including oils, lotions, soaps and candles, said she's "all for" the new law. 

"I have no problem with it at all because it's in the best interest of CBD users. If you think about it, we're basically micro-dosing people with cannabis," said Naissant, 26.

"They deserve to know that what they're consuming is safe, that it's coming from a reputable source, and that the retailer they're buying products from is licensed and certified." 

Naissant, who opened Wake and Bake six months ago, said all the CBD oils and topicals offered at her shop have been tested by a third-party lab. 

"With all the changes happening in the industry, I knew it was better to be safe than sorry," she said of her decision to stock only products with certificates of analysis, reflecting the amount of CBD they contain.  

In September, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned consumers about "purchasing and using" CBD products, reporting that testing it had conducted found that many products did not contain the levels of CBD they claimed. 

While many retailers agree CBD products should be lab-tested and labeled, some industry insiders worry that the cost of complying with the new law's permitting and testing requirements will shut small players out of the CBD game.

The cost of the state permits has not been determined, Cuomo's office said. The state plans to host a hemp summit in January, where policies and priorities related to the industry will be developed, Cuomo said in a statement. 

Cold Spring Harbor resident Craig Zaffe, owner and CEO of ACD Health and Wellness, a manufacturer of CBD oils and topicals, said the new law is a win for retailers and consumers alike. Zaffe also owns CBDoilsofLongIsland.com, an online retailer.

"Right now, there are hundreds, if not thousands of CBD products out there. So many of them are mislabeled or misrepresent the amount of CBD they contain, if at all, which is a shame," said Zaffe, 69, who has been in the CBD business since 2015.

"The ones on the losing end of that reality are the entrepreneurs and companies taking the time, spending the money and making the effort to do things right, without cutting corners, and of course, the consumers, who have no way to vet the quality of the products they're consuming." 

Zaffe, who sources hemp from Oregon farms and has his products tested by Botanacor, an industrial hemp and CBD testing lab in Colorado, retails his CBD oils and topicals at health and wellness businesses on Long Island and in Manhattan. Customers  can view lab reports on request, he said. 

"If you want to make it in this business," Zaffe said, "you have to care about people, you have to constantly continue to educate yourself and others, and you have to be ahead of the regulations." 

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