Why So Many People Are Convinced There's Cannabis in This Maine Café's Coffee

This small business in Portland, Maine has found itself in the center of the cannabis-infused coffee craze - even though there isn't a single milligram of marijuana in its coffee.

Alan Spear and Mary Allen Lindemann's business doesn't actually have anything to do with marijuana other than a strange coincidence. They sell hot, caffeinated beverages under the name Coffee By Design, but everyone just calls them CBD. Even their twitter handle is @CBDPortland. And that's where the trouble started.

With the rise of products infused with the cannabis compound cannabidiol (or CBD for short), people have started ordering from Coffee By Design in expectation of getting some CBD-infused beans.

"We've been mail-ordering coffee all over the country and Japan," Spear told Portland Press Herald. "If somebody orders our coffee and they think it has CBD in it, there's going to be a problem."

The problem actually started last spring, when Spear first started noticing CBD coffee showing up on restaurant menus in Maine. But back then, he had no idea that cannabidiol-infused products would become a huge trend.

"I just kind of blew it off," Spear said "Then, all of a sudden, I saw the CBD in another store. And I saw it popping up in another place."

Now he's fighting back to preserve the integrity of the Coffee By Design brand. Since 2010 Spear and Lindemann have owned the trademark for CBD as it applies to cafés and coffee. So Spear and Lindemann are arguing that any business marketing CBD-coffee is in "violation of the trademarks" held by their company. 

Spear and Lindemann added that they aren't opposed to people selling CBD-infused coffee in general; they just want them to refer to the compound by its full name, cannabidiol.

Ironically, Coffee By Design couldn't actually infuse their blends with cannabidiol because of state regulations. Maine recently decided to ban cannabidiol from use as a food additive, so it would be illegal for them to embrace the cannabis trend.

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