Manhattan is getting its first CBD robot.
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is a cannabis and hemp-derived cannabinoid compound, that is known anecdotally to reduce inflammation and promote wellness. Marinabox, named for its aquatic blue exterior and hometown of Marina Del Ray, California, is a robot that dispenses CBD products. Tribeca-based CBD shop Come Back Daily is launching New York City’s s first marinabox robot on Tuesday.
The marinabox’s NYC debut comes hot on the heels of Gov. Cuomo signing a bill to decriminalize cannabis. However, as decriminalization is left to the discretion of law enforcement, legalized medical marijuana and CBD use also come with an element of “Big Brother.” Individuals who shop at dispensaries must show a form of photo identification, which gets scanned upon entry. At Columbia Care on East 14th Street, for example, whether or not customers purchase any products, their IDs remain logged to keep track of who is entering and leaving the facility, for security purposes. This data is not protected by HIPAA laws.
Additionally, those hoping to pick up CBD treats will be disappointed to discover that there is a ban on CBD edibles in effect, in New York. Penalties of up to $600 per incident may be implemented in October.
The FDA does not yet consider CBD safe for human consumption. If people are using CBD as an unlicensed drug intended to treat illnesses and ailments, it cannot be added to food; similarly to how a renegade aspirin substitute could not be added to lattes and sold for consumption at Starbucks.
To date, regulations have not been drafted or enforced as to whether CBD will fall under the category of an anti-inflammatory drug such as an NSAID or a wellness supplement such as valerian root. In the meantime, the Department of Health is erring on the side of caution and honoring the moratorium on CBD edibles.
Detractors of the ban cite that since industrial hemp is federally legal under the farm bill, hemp-derived CBD products are as well, and should be allowed to be sold in any form, edible or otherwise. However, the Farm Bill only legalizes processing and farming hemp, not the sale of its derivatives.
People who are put off by marketplace confusion or the grey market might be fearful of entering and being tracked by dispensaries in order to obtain CBD products. Others might not trust the dubious CBD products that are popping up ubiquitously, including at gas stations and bodegas. CBD-curious customers and repeat buyers who want to purchase products such as topicals and tinctures –without being tracked or profiled– may opt to use the marinabox autonomously. Additionally, they might benefit from the product education that is delivered by the robot at the point of sale, rather than having to interact with a commissioned salesperson.
Marinabox’s CEO Zack Johnson explains that a form of photo identification is required to use the robot, to ensure the robot’s customer is over 18. However, the ID data is not provided to third parties unless a consumer opts in to receive promotional emails. Nor does the marinabox provide customer’s data to the federal government.