The Law Offices of  Barton Morris

Cannabis-Infused Food Events

Cannabis and food go well together. The Cannabis Regulatory Agency has reported that 30% of total adult-use sales is in the form of cannabis-infused edibles. Given the drug’s easy ability and desirability to be consumed in food, the question becomes when (not if) will cannabis-infused events and dinner parties become legal and a mainstream part of our cannabis culture?

Private Cannabis-Infused Dinner Parties

Michigan law permits private adults to give cannabis to other adults. This includes cannabis-infused products. They can purchase these goods from a CRA-regulated and licensed retail facility, or they can make the food and serve it themselves, at home, or at private events. These events cannot be held in a restaurant or food service establishment if the establishment is preparing and serving the food. But they can be catered to by a private enterprise that is not licensed by the health department or even operates as a commercial business.

Public Dinner Parties and Events – Designated Consumption Establishments

The Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) permits cannabis-infused events only in a designated consumption establishment provided that there is compliance with all applicable laws.

If a business that is open to the public, or even a private event, wishes to serve and permit the use of cannabis-infused products, that business must be licensed as a designated consumption establishment. This is an adult-use license type that is authorized by the Cannabis Regulatory Agency. There are currently two licensed DCE’s one in Kalkaska and the other in Hazel Park. The CRA will permit DCE to that also operate as a bar or restaurant to serve and allow cannabis edibles to be consumed on premises, but only if the authorizations as also obtained from the appropriate agencies (MLCC or local health departments). But pursuant to current Michigan Food Law, they can only permit the use of packaged cannabis-infused edibles. They cannot actually create the cannabis infused food at the facility and serve it to their guests. This is the same food service that is conducted by a restaurant. The CRA’s rules permit cannabis infused restaurants. But the DCE would also have to be a licensed Food Service Establishment that is licensed by the local county health department.

I spoke with Claudia Terrell, Oakland County’s Public Health Chief, who told me that the health department cannot permit THC infused events even it they wanted to, because Michigan adopts the Federal USDA definition of a “food additive”.

Michigan Restaurants and Food Service Establishments

Michigan restaurants are licensed by the local health department and must follow the state food code. The Code also states that any food shall not contain any unapproved additives as identified by the Code of Federal Regulations 21 CFR part 189. Under the CRF, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified THC as a schedule one controlled substance and therefore, not a permitted food additive.

Other States Permit Cannabis Infused Events, But Not Many.

There are other states that have permitted the operation of THC infused restaurants, most notably California. The Cannabis Café closed due to the pandemic. The Wake n Bake Cafe serves food infused with Delta 8 THC and hemp derived conversion THC.

What needs to change to have lawful Cannabis Infused Event Businesses

Michigan law currently prohibits THC from being a food additive. Michigan law needs to change but according to Robin Schneider Executive Director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association, the lobbying efforts have proven to be wildly unsuccessful.

Alternatively, I believe there is a legal argument that the MRTMA should supersede Michigan’s statutory definition adopting the USDA definition of a Food Additive. If successful, that would put in the hands of the county health departments.

If any business wishes to pursue this litigation, please let us know. With the right litigant, the Law Offices of Barton Morris may agree to perform it at no charge.