MINNEAPOLIS - A new coffee shop could be opening and serving up something extra in their coffee: CBD oil, a substance extracted from hemp plants that some use for pain and anxiety.
The oil is legally sold in stores here in Minnesota, in lotions, creams and other products, as long as it’s derived from hemp plants and contains less than 0.3 percent THC, the substance in marijuana plants that gets you high.
Coffee is obviously legal as well, but local business owner Wally Sakallah is quickly finding out combining them isn’t exactly legal.
"I'm just wondering, why this confusion? Why can the state not put their hands on yes or no?" Sakallah says.
Sakallah owns a handful of businesses in Minneapolis, including a chain of Hideaway smoke shops, and Wally’s Falafel, Hummus and Bakery.
Next April he’s looking to start a new business in a recently vacated building he owns in Dinkytown.
That business, Coffee Bean Dispensary, will specialize in blending Turkish-style coffee with CBD oil.
“In other states like Washington, Colorado and California they are doing a lot with CBD,” Sakallah explains.
Earlier this week, Minneapolis health officials found out about his plans and sent him a warning.
"It's not an approved food additive by the FDA, so you can't sell it within food that you're retailing like a coffee shop or a restaurant," Minneapolis Environmental Health Director Daniel Huff says.
Sakallah was surprised to hear the city’s objection to his business, because everything he’s been reading states it’s OK.
"It’s all over Minnesota right now at grocery stores, gas stations, tobacco shops. People can get CBD oil everywhere,” Sakallah says.
Huff understands his frustration.
“The laws are very vague and confusing on this because you have marijuana and you have hemp,” Huff says.
“The application of the product, whether it’s for food, supplements or pharmaceutical, all change the legality of the oil,” Huff says.
Depending on how Sakallah crafts his business model, Huff says it might be legal.
Hypothetically, Huff says it may be all right for a business owner to sell both coffee and CBD oil and have their customers blend the two at their tables.
"What a consumer does at their seat is up to them," Huff says.
The owner would also have to show where the oil came from and how it's made, and they couldn't make claims that it's good for you, because there's no clear evidence to support that.
If an owner can do all that, blending coffee and CBD oil may just be possible under the law.
Sakallah is working with his lawyer to craft a business model that fits all of these criteria.
He is planning to open the business on April 20.