SF health department orders CBD wellness store to clear out edibles

If you’re thinking about opening up a store dedicated to hemp-derived CBD products, think again.

Gus Daibis, who opened Sidewalk Wellness on 21st Street earlier this month, learned the hard way. The co-owner of the local Sidewalk Juice chain was checking his email last Tuesday when two inspectors from the San Francisco Department of Public Health walked into his store.

“I initially thought they were customers,” Daibis said.

Instead, they were health inspectors, who told Daibis he was not allowed to sell his “consumable” CBD products. The creams, and even smokable products, were fine to sell — but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved hemp-derived CBD for consumption, Daibis remembers them saying.

All of Daibis’s edible items had to be taken off the shelves and put into storage which, for Daiblis, is a major loss — he estimates $25,000 to $30,000.

“We’re stuck in limbo right now,” Daibis said.

Veronica Vien, a spokeswoman with the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said the local health department is following state requirements that CBD is an unapproved food additive. In August, she said, the DPH sent out fact sheets spelling that out to 1,900 markets in the city.

That was before Daibis’s shop opened.

By Mission Local’s count, Sidewalk Wellness is one of San Francisco’s only stores dedicated to selling CBD products. CBD is short for “cannabidiol,” which is said to have a range of non-psychoactive medicinal effects such as relieving pain and anxiety and preventing seizures.

“The reason why I opened the store is my aunt has [multiple sclerosis], and a couple other people in my family use CBD,” Daibis said. “We’re firm believers.”

They are not alone. Assemblywoman Cecilia Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters) in January introduced a bill that would legalize the sale of hemp-derived CBD edible and cosmetic products. She wanted to protect hemp farmers and had also caught wind of some local enforcement on stores throughout the state. “I don’t need someone going out of business because of this,” Aguiar-Curry told Mission Local.

In 2016, California legalized cannabis sales and consumption, but surprisingly forgot to legalize the sale of products containing its non-psychoactive relative: hemp-derived CBD. Aguiar-Curry’s bill would make products containing the non-psychoactive CBD “not adulterated,” meaning legal to distribute.

On Tuesday it unanimously passed out of the Assembly Health Committee. But even if successful, the law would not go into effect until August at the earliest.

That’s a long time for Daibis to wait. “If I can buy it,” he said. “Why can’t I sell it?”

Daibis’s family is very active in the Mission’s small business community. He said his cousins run Jay’s Cheesesteak, his uncle runs Valencia Whole Foods, and another cousin runs Burger Joint. His grandfather has owned the building on 21st Street for more than 40 years, he said.

“Our family has a long history here in the Mission,” Daibis said.

Daibis and his business partner, Jason Nazzal, opened Sidewalk Juice on 21st Street in 2006, and now have a location on 24th Street and another in Daly City. They opened Sidewalk Wellness with the plan to begin incorporating the CBD products in the company’s juices and açai bowls.

“We saw the two becoming the future,” he said.

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