The risks underlying traditional food safety concerns are magnified when one considers that many consumers of cannabis food products are using the products for medical purposes and, therefore, may be immune-compromised individuals. For example, a common food safety requirement is that food handlers ensure proper temperature controls and food that has not been closely monitored cannot be served to highly susceptible populations, which would include many medical marijuana patients.
Caterers must be especially cognizant to ensure that food safety protocols are in effect, particularly for contaminated equipment and poor personal hygiene, as these are avenues for contaminants to get into food making it unsafe.
Best practices go above the minimum regulations to ensure food safety throughout the food production activities. This is particularly important when handling a federally-controlled hallucinogenic substance that can have different interactions and tolerances for different people.
Aside from having a comprehensive knowledge of cannabis concentrate and extracts and working with infusions to produce an intoxicating meal, following ordinary food safety guidelines is imperative. Individuals interested in pursuing this kind of business model must: understand and implement food safety requirements, follow standard food safety protocols for the preparation and transfer of food, create and implement defensible best practices for caterers operating at a host’s home, and understand social-host liability for guests that over-consume cannabis-infused edibles and available insurance options.
Finally, consumption options at public restaurants will have a different regulatory structure with other legal considerations. A public-use, on-premises licensing structure is feasible, once the public consumption problem is resolved, that could be the future of legalized cannabis in the U.S. It is critical to understand the legal issues involved in the commercialization of cannabis-infused food products from a regulatory, safety, and liability perspective.
Cetel and Wiand are attorneys with GrayRobinson’s Alcohol Beverage, Medical Marijuana, and Food Law Departments, a group of lawyers and government consultants with extensive experience in all aspects of the commercialization of heavily-regulated products. Reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.