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Carl’s Jr.’s First CBD Burger Hits on 4/20 in Denver

April 17, 2019

Has the craze in cannabidiol—or CBD—finally jumped the shark?

The latest evidence comes from fast food leviathan Carl’s Jr., which announced Wednesday it will sell hamburgers in Denver, CO, on April 20 featuring CBD in the sauce. That’s right, the 4/20 special sauce at Carl’s Jr. includes CBD!

A Carl’s Jr. spokesperson told CNN today that the CBD burger is not a stunt. Rather, it’s a test of demand that is limited to one Carl’s Jr. in Denver on one day, April 20—which has become a cannabis holiday of sorts worldwide.

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“It is something that feels right for the brand,” the senior vice president of brand marketing told CNN Business. “We are all about innovation.”

Carl’s Jr. and sister brand Hardee’s has 3,800 locations in 44 states. It hopes to attract younger fast food eaters with novelties like meatless burgers—and now a CBD burger, CNN reported.

Cannabidiol is the second most common active ingredient in cannabis. It does not cause euphoria but can reduce pain, inflammation, and anxiety. Those pharmacological properties have made it the subject of renewed FDA scrutiny. The FDA holds that CBD is legal so long as it comes in the newly approved prescription drug Epidiolex.

CBD (cannabidiol): What does it do and how does it affect the brain & body?

However the FDA and many state health agencies disallow the sale of foods with added CBD, which the FDA has not yet deemed “generally recognized as safe.” The recent US farm bill added legal complexity to the issue. The bill legalized hemp—defined as cannabis with less than .3% THC. That move seemed to open the door to hemp-derived CBD, though agencies such as the DEA maintain that cannabis extracts, including CBD, remain Schedule I controlled substances. Hemp farmers also need state and federal sign-offs on legal hemp, and those don’t exist yet.

Carl’s Jr. is not the only company forging ahead by offering CBD to the masses. Major drugstore chain CVS already stocks hemp-derived CBD products. So do many smaller health food stores. Carl’s Jr. is getting its CBD from Bluebird Botanicals in Colorado — a state where cannabis, hemp, and CBD are all legal. The product is also not crossing state lines, which decreases legal risks a bit.

The cheeseburger includes two beef patties, topped with pickled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, fries, and a CBD-infused “Santa Fe sauce” with 5 milligrams of CBD.

Would you take a bite of Carl’s Jr.’s “Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight?” It’ll cost $4.20 and goes on sale at 6 a.m. Saturday at the Carl’s Jr. at 4050 Colorado Blvd. in Denver, CO. Limit two burgers per person, ages 18 and older.

Initial reactions have been mixed, but in terms of press—it’s already a coup for Carl’s.

David Downs's Bio Image
David Downs

David Downs directs news and lifestyle coverage as the California Bureau Chief for Leafly.com. He's written for WIRED, Rolling Stone and Billboard, and is the former cannabis editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the author of several cannabis books including 'Marijuana Harvest' by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. He co-hosts The Hash podcast. TW: @davidrdowns | IG @daviddowns

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