Food & Culture

Cafe Hitchcock Ordered to Stop Serving Their CBD Lattes

The public health department has issued a cease-and-desist; fans (and chef Brendan McGill) are bummed

By Chelsea Lin April 30, 2018


In February, we wrote about how Hitchcock chef/owner Brendan McGill started serving CBD lattes—and other “wellness drinks”—from his downtown café. He told us then that it’s been an uphill battle convincing folks that CBD, made in this case from organic hemp grown by his farmer friend in Oregon, is not the same thing as weed. And though the county public health department initially didn’t forbid McGill from selling CBD-enhanced drinks, they’ve now changed their tune: Café Hitchcock got a cease-and-desist letter on Friday and immediately pulled the extract from the menu. 

McGill is enjoying a sunny beachside vacation right now, but he sent us this comment:

“Unfortunately, King County Public Health has decided to take a regressive stance on the use of CBD as a food additive. Although cafés in many other Washington counties as well as in Oregon, California, Washington D.C. and NYC are not regulating its use, as it is federally legal, traded across state lines and internationally with no special permitting, is demonstrably not psychoactive and offers tremendous health benefits as well as its signature relaxing effect, we have been instructed to immediately stop serving the extract. I have reached out to discuss this and find out the reasoning behind the decision but as of yet have not heard back from Public Health.” 

This comes at a particularly bad time, since McGill’s newest endeavor, a grab-and-go counter called Café Hitchcock Express within the same building, will be open in the next couple of weeks and planned to also serve wellness drinks like the CBD latte.

Hopefully, this is just a case of needing further education on the topic—after all, the pioneers in this field of legal marijuana (and legal marijuana-adjacent products like CBD) are blazing a trail as they go. Much of that involves working with government officials regulating a substance they’re not sure how to regulate. We can’t imagine McGill is going to let this go without a bit of a fight.

For now, though, we’ll have to just stick with an extra dose of caffeine.

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