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County Health Department Cracks Down on Sales of Edible CBD Products (Updated)


Image: Nevada Department of Agriculture.

You can buy edible CBD products from countless stores in Washoe County, but the County Health District recently started to crack on the sales of such products.

Dorinda’s Chocolates, which makes CBD chocolates under the Live Kaya brand — similar to the dozens of CBD products available for purchase from Amazon — was ordered by the health district to destroy $60,000 (wholesale price) worth of their product, according to cannabis lobbyist Will Adler.

“They [came in] and put caution tape over [the products and] a notice that says the product is being held,” Adler said. “They told them to destroy all of these products. Dorinda’s Chocolates said ‘no.'”

Dorinda Vance, owner of Dorinda’s Chocolate, said they were hit with a cease-and-desist letter by the health district out of nowhere and that the district’s actions caused them to lose a distributor and the ordeal has cost her.

“They just knocked the feet out from under us,” Vance said. “We have hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in this — our equipment and whatnot. It has affected us severely.”

Dorinda’s had to appeal the health district’s decision, and a board that hears these appeals on Tuesday recommended Vance’s products not be destroyed, but they remain unable to sell the CBD chocolates.

Adler said that he had no idea how long the health department was doing this kind of enforcement, but after the issue with Dorinda’s, he said the health district put a frequently-asked-questions document on its website.

The document explained that even though the federal Farm Bill legalized the production of industrial hemp “food establishments operating in Washoe County must still comply with other applicable laws including the FD&C Act, Nevada Revised Statute, and the Regulations of the Washoe County District Board of Health Governing Food Establishments which prohibit unapproved additives in food.

Brittany Dayton, with the Health District, said that it has issued nine cease-and-desist letters to businesses in the Reno area selling CBD food products.

“A WCHD staff member reported seeing a local business advertising CBD in beverages served at the establishment. On May 30, 2019, WCHD staff conducted an inspection at the establishment and observed CBD oil being added to food products,” she said. “The establishment was issued cease and desists for adding any CBD products as an ingredient in food

“The facility mentioned the names of several other local food establishments that were also adding CBD oil to food products.  Complaints were generated and investigated for each of the mentioned establishments.”

Dayton said that in a phone call with the state, a number of jurisdictions “agreed that pursuant to the FDA determination that CBD products are not approved additives in food, CBD will continue to be considered an unapproved food additive in the State of Nevada as well. 

“All parties agreed that food establishments in their respective jurisdictions found to be selling or manufacturing food with CBD as an ingredient in food will be issued a cease and desist order. Additionally, all parties agreed that these establishments would be addressed on a complaint basis.”

“This seems beyond an overreach — to order a Reno business to destroy its products…”

A local brand of CBD chocolate can no longer be purchased in Washoe County. The Health District says it has authority over such sales, and CBD is not approved for human consumption. Similar products, however, are easily purchased throughout the county and online.

The health district can, and has, cracked down on the sale of edible CBD products. Another local business that received the district’s new enforcement information was local restaurant Great Full Gardens.

Owner Gino Scala said that they were going to add CBD oil to the Great Full Gardens menu.

“We had actually sent the menu to print, and on that same day the health department came in and asked one of our managers if we were using it, and he told him ‘no,’ and then they made him sign a document that said that we would notify them if we made a decision that we wanted to,” Scala said.

With so many retailers selling CBD food products, it remains unclear how the health district intends to enforce its new mandate. (The health district did not respond to questions by the time of publication.)

Adler said that a bill passed this legislative session actually gives the state the authority to regulate CBD for human consumption.

Senate Bill 209 requires “the Department of Health and Human Services to adopt regulations requiring the testing and labeling of certain commodities and products made using hemp and certain similar products which are intended for human consumption.”

CBD edibles are widely available around Reno and for purchase online from WalMart, Amazon, and others.

“This seems beyond an overreach — to order a Reno business to destroy its products…” Adler said. “I’ve known about businesses selling edible CBD in Reno since 2015 if not earlier. They actually got inspected by Washoe County Health and were fine.

“This is this sort of weird, kooky kind of mindset, but they’ve known about it for a while,” Adler added. “Literally every gas station has CBD products behind the counter now.”

CBD products are still legally approved at the state level to be sold in cannabis dispensaries.

“However, food products containing industrial hemp manufactured and sold outside of a licensed facility … are regulated by the [health district],” according to the health district.

Vance said that doesn’t make sense.

“It’s not a health issue,” she said. “It’s okay if dispensaries sell it to their customers, but I can’t sell it to my customers. That doesn’t feel like it’s a health issue, that feels like it’s a tax issue.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include information provided by the Health District.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.