By: Nabil Rodriguez*, J.D, Stuart Knight, Esq. & Jessica Wasserman, Esq.
On April 17, 2019, Carl’s Jr. announced the single-day limited release of the “Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight” with CBD infused Santa Fe sauce. The release was for one day only on 4/20, and only at one Denver location. Each serving of Santa Fe sauce contained 5mg of CBD.
Opening their doors at 6 a.m. to a line of roughly 30 individuals and 10 cars anxiously waiting in the drive-through, today Carl’s Jr. became the first national food chain to sell a hemp-derived CBD burger. For the price of $4.20, people from around the country traveled to Denver for this momentous occasion.
Not only has Carl’s Jr. been serving individuals traveling to Denver for this opportunity, but the store is receiving calls from neighboring state citizens hoping to make the drive to the Denver before supplies run out. To try and keep up with demand, Carl’s Jr. is restricting sales to individuals age 18 and over with a valid form of ID and limits 2 burgers per customer. As told by the on-site public relations marketing team, the store is selling roughly 100 CBD burgers per hour and has enough CBD infused Santa Fe sauce for about 1,000 burgers.
The Carl’s Jr. location has gained national attention with reporters from CNN and Leafly (to name a few) recording footage and speaking to customers about the experience. So far, the general consensus has been a resounding customer approval and satisfaction.
In our personal opinions, the Rocky Mountain High cheese burger was a true delight. The use of pickled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese and Crisscut® fries came together for a palate-pleasing experience that made us want to take advantage of the two per customer limit.
As a cannabis law group, we must address the elephant in the room: “is this legal?”
The simple answer: “It’s complicated.”
The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp-derived CBD from the list of controlled substances, but at a national level, the FDA has not yet established a regulatory pathway for clearing hemp-derived CBD as a food ingredient. Food ingredients such as CBD must be shown to be sage according to an FDA process referred to as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (“GRAS”) where companies compile peer-reviewed scientific testing to show safety, followed by expert panel review. No such study has been conducted for CBD as a food ingredient. At the state level, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has previously indicated that “all parts of the industrial hemp plant is allowed as a food ingredient in Colorado.”
Although the legal landscape may not be too clear because of conflicting policy, one thing is certain. The burger was a success and we feel great having the opportunity to try one.
The FDA is hosting a stakeholder hearing on May 31, 2019 to begin the process of setting national safety requirements for hemp-derived CBD and hopefully receive input addressing issues of state and federal departmental conflict, among other issuers. If you would like to learn more about how to participate, please reach out to your Greenspoon Marder attorney. Once again, Happy 4/20.
*Nabil Rodriguez is not an attorney