Since November, Coalition Brewing has been touting the first "commercially produced" beer in Oregon made with the CBD, the non-intoxicating cannabinoid often used for relief of pain and anxiety. It's called Two Flowers IPA, and since its December 2 draft release at Burnside bar EastBurn, it's been pouring at bars like Ankeny Tap and Table, Uptown Market and the Waypost.
(Speakeasy legend Dean Pottle's Dean's Scene brewed and served a CBD beer at Willamette Week's Beer Pro/Am this past October, which was poured posthumously in tribute to Pottle just a few days after his death.)
But right after Coalition put out their CBD beer, the Drug Enforcement Administration sprang a bizarre December surprise, classing CBD and all other "marihuana extracts" as a schedule I "drug with no medical use"—the same classification used for heroin.
Does this mean no more CBD beer? Apparently not, according to Coalition brewer and co-owner Elan Walsky.
"So silly! DEA calls it a schedule 1 drug, and meanwhile the TTB gives formula and label approval to a CBD beer out of Colorado," Walsky wrote to WW. "One hand has no idea what the other is doing."
Walsky said his brewery will charge ahead withTwo Flowers IPA, first on draft and then in bottles—which would require a federal OK on the labeling.
"Marijuana (the kind you can smoke) is also a federally scheduled drug, but legal in [Oregon], along with CBD," Walsky says. "So as long as it's legal in the state, we feel comfortable moving ahead."
He'll dial back any plans to distribute to states with marijuana prohibitions, he says, until he hears good words from the Trump administration.
But even in interstate commerce, Walsky cites the broad availability of CBD oils as a dietary supplement.
"We've actually been getting cold calls from CBD producing labs that have heard we are using it, to try to sell it to us," Walsky says. "Luckily, there are a ton of local producers that we can tap."
The state laws surrounding a CBD beer remain unclear as well, says OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger, who says the agency had been looking into the beer since its release in December.
"Our staff is doing that research, finding out where the conflicts are, a whole host of things," Pettinger says. "It's a new world, all the rules around marijuana in our state. There are these unknowns that have never been interpreted before. They just need some time or some thoughtful reflection… I get questions—is it illegal to give cannabis to your pet? The law is silent. We can only address the commercial aspects. There's nothing that says that's illegal."
Walsky figures, in part, that the cannabinoid industry is maybe now too big to fail.
"We think that there is simply too much money and too many jobs at stake for the Feds to make any concerted effort to crush CBD," Walsky says. "At least we hope so! Time will tell all things, we're feeling lucky!"