Valley businesses serve up CBD-infused food products

Local Valley businesses look to CBD to offer customers an alternative health experience

Along with the traditional toppings of pepperoni, olives and sausage, one Tempe restaurant is offering customers something different – CBD.

Spinelli’s Pizzeria on Tempe's Mill Avenue began offering a range of CBD-infused cocktails and optional pizza injections in late 2018. Now, the restaurant offers six CBD cocktails, including the Drug Mule, CBDITO, the Wake & Bake and more. 

Customers can also opt to inject CBD extract into their beer or an entire pizza for up to $10. 

CBD, or cannabidiol oil, is a non-intoxicating chemical extracted from cannabis plants like hemp, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The drug is federally approved for treating epilepsy. It is also credited for its pain relief and anti-anxiety uses, though there isn't enough scientific research to confirm this. 

Christopher Palma, owner of Spinelli’s Pizzeria's Tempe location, said the inspiration for using the oil in his business comes from a desire to stay on the cutting edge.

"Personally, I’m always looking at what’s coming next," Palma said. "The CBD oil is something that popped up, really started getting noticed last year and it’s kind of been in the health community or alternative medicine community that’s been coming up."

Palma said CBD is a healthy, natural alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals, which have had long-lasting negative effects on people who simply wanted help for their pain or mood disorders. 

“I’m glad that in this day and age there’s some things that can be offered to help give people continuity in mood disorders and pain relief that’s not as invasive on the body,” Palma said.  

But the supposed benefits of the oil still have yet to convince some in the scientific community of its medicinal uses.

Jeffery Yarger, a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences and the director of the University's Magnetic Resonance Research Center, focuses his research on cannabinoids and how they can be used for medical purposes. 

Yarger said that consumers should be wary of claims that CBD is a miracle drug. 

"There are not nearly enough reproduced, heavily researched studies to give anyone confidence to make these claims," he said, saying that what research does exist on the benefits of the drug largely come from the private sector and can be skewed to advance a particular agenda.

While he is cautious about its current lack of research, he said he wants to see CBD succeed for the potential benefit of consumers. 

"I would love to see the general public be able to use this and have more concrete information to make these choices like they can with their supplements," Yarger said. 

Palma said he was drawn to CBD as an alternative to traditional medications after being prescribed Ritalin for ADHD as a child. 

He said he and Spinelli’s Pizzeria Tempe underwent a lengthy approval process in order to serve CBD in its kitchen. They worked with everyone from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the Tempe Police Department

The FDA currently doesn't provide federal protection for using the drug, so states can vary on how they enforce it.

Just last week, the FDA is cracking down on New York City restaurants who add the oil to food and drinks and, starting in October, will fine restaurants that don’t comply. 

Currently, the only form of CBD approved by the FDA is for a seizure medication.

Chris Martin, the owner and one of the founders of Hempful Farms in Phoenix, is another Valley business owner who is using hemp-based products.

At its Phoenix location, Hempful Farms manufactures its own CBD-infused products like candy bars, coffee beans and lollipops and sells them online and at several retail locations around the country. 

Pending an upcoming health inspection, Hempful Farms is planning on opening a CBD-friendly cafe in Phoenix. The cafe will have a full-service kitchen to dole out juices, smoothies and breakfast with a CBD kick. 

Martin said he doesn’t agree with the FDA regulations on a product that has not caused any deaths or illnesses to date. 

“I don’t need FDA approved, genetically modified hemp seeds to grow in my farms,” Martin said. “This plant’s been here longer than we’ve been a country.” 

Martin has Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory disease that affects the bowels, and said that marijuana and CBD have helped to ease the symptoms of his illness. 

The company’s goal is to have a cafe and retail location in every state, he said.

He has a simple explanation for the recent uptick in popularity for CBD foods and drinks. 

“They just want honest, cheap, accessible help," Martin said of his customers. "That’s all they want." 

Correction: A previous version of this article falsely implied that the substance used in Spinelli’s Pizzeria products was hemp instead of CBD. The article has been updated to reflect the changes.

Reach the reporter at or follow @walker_writes on Twitter. 

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