Carl’s Jr. will become the first fast-food chain to debut cannabidiol (“CBD”) infused menu items with the limited release of their Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight.

This week, for one time only, fast-food chain Carl’s Jr. will be selling the first cannabidiol (“CBD”) infused cheeseburger. On Saturday, April 20, the chain will offer the “Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight” CBD burger at one location in Denver, priced at $4.20. The burger contains of two beef patties, jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, and waffle fries, with a total of roughly 5 milligrams of CBD extract present in the Santa Fe Sauce dressing.1

“In partnership with Bluebird Botanicals, we have done our due diligence and are bringing this to our consumers in a safe and delicious way, and we’re thrilled to be testing on April 20, 2019,” representatives wrote in a company-issued news release. “We are currently testing at one store in Denver, and there is potential to expand as regulations allow.”2

While Carl’s Jr. aims to capitalize on the culture surrounding 4/20 – a prominent date for cannabis enthusiasts – the burger will not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”). One of over 100 chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant, hemp-derived CBD is considered non-psychoactive because it does not produce the effects or “high” associated with THC consumption.3

Senior vice president of marketing, Patty Trevino, stated that, although the CBD burger has been an ongoing project for Carl’s Jr. since early January 2019, CBD’s recent popularity was a crucial factor. “If you were to ask me when I was at Burger King back in the mid-2000s, I would have been like, no way,” Trevino explained. “But today, this is a huge trend with consumers.”4

Carl’s Jr.’s decision to test the product in Denver was influenced by Colorado’s legal cannabis industry, as Trevino notes the advantage of the predominately West Coast chain operating where cannabis policy reform has gained more traction.5 The fast-food chain’s parent company, CKE Restaurants did expand into the East Coast in 1997 after acquiring an existing company, Hardee’s, however, the separation of the two restaurants by name and region still continues.

Currently owned by private equity firm, Roark Capital Group, Carl Jr.’s burger will be a unique test of CBD’s booming popularity, as publicly traded companies such as McDonald’s, Burger King, or Wendy’s have not yet risked similar industry participation.6 Although the burger’s release takes place on 4/20, it is not expected to be an isolated publicity move. Using sales data and the overall reception following the burger’s debut, Trevino has indicated that the company will further evaluate the possibility of bringing the CBD-infused menu item to restaurants nationwide.7

Carl’s Jr.’s promotion of its CBD-infused burger comes at a critical time for the emerging CBD industry. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 or 2018 Farm Bill granted surface-level approval for hemp and hemp-derived products in December 2018. However, permissible products are still up for debate, despite their proliferation in the marketplace. The 2018 Farm Bill does not override the regulations set by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (“FD&C”) in determining the safety of a substance for human consumption, meaning certain CBD products exist in a state of legal limbo.

Several states have taken enforcement actions against the sale of ingestible CBD-infused products, largely based on considering them to violate the FD&C Act or related state laws because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has not approved CBD for sale in foods or dietary supplements. But ongoing and widespread sales of such products have prompted the FDA to hold a public hearing on May 31, 2019, about the future regulation of CBD products.8

In Colorado, however, CBD has received state-level protection after the 2018 signing of House Bill 1295, titled “Hemp Products Deemed Not Adulterated Or Misbranded,” which established that “products containing industrial hemp are not adulterated or misbranded by virtue of containing industrial hemp.”9

With growing corporate and consumer interest, CBD products are not expected to disappear any time soon – regardless of legal uncertainties. In February 2019, analysts from investment bank Cowen reported that the CBD market could potentially reach $16 billion by 2025 in the U.S.10

The Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight will be sold while supplies last at the Carl’s Jr. located at 4050 Colorado Blvd. in northern Denver during normal business hours on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Interested customers will have a limit of two burgers and must be at least 18 years old.11

 


  1. Lucas, Amelia. “Carl’s Jr. Will Test a CBD-infused Burger.” CNBC. April 17, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/16/carls-jr-will-test-a-cbd-infused-burger.html.
  2. Rubino, Joe. “Carl’s Jr Has Cooked up a CBD Burger and It Will Be Selling It Exclusively at One Denver Location on 4/20.” The Denver Post. April 17, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019. https://www.denverpost.com/2019/04/17/carls-jr-cbd-burger-denver/.
  3. Rubino, Joe. “Carl’s Jr Has Cooked up a CBD Burger and It Will Be Selling It Exclusively at One Denver Location on 4/20.”
  4. Taylor, Kate. “Carl’s Jr. Will Become the First Major Fast-food Chain to Debut a Cannabis-infused Burger.” Business Insider. April 17, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019. https://www.businessinsider.com/carls-jr-debuts-cbd-burger-2019-4.
  5. Taylor, Kate. “Carl’s Jr. Will Become the First Major Fast-food Chain to Debut a Cannabis-infused Burger.”
  6. Lucas, Amelia. “Carl’s Jr. Will Test a CBD-infused Burger.”
  7. Taylor, Kate. “Carl’s Jr. Will Become the First Major Fast-food Chain to Debut a Cannabis-infused Burger.”
  8. LaVito, Angelica. “FDA Sets First Public Hearing on Legalizing CBD in Food and Drinks.” CNBC. April 02, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/02/fda-sets-first-hearing-on-legalizing-cannabis-compound-cbd.html.
  9. “Hemp Products Deemed Not Adulterated Or Misbranded.” Colorado General Assembly. May 04, 2018. Accessed April 18, 2019. https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb18-1295.
  10. Brodwin, Erin. “Wall Street Thinks the $1 Billion Market for CBD Could Explode to $16 Billion by 2025.” Business Insider. February 27, 2019. Accessed April 18, 2019. https://www.businessinsider.com/cbd-marijuana-hemp-billions-health-industry-wall-street-analysts-2019-2.
  11. Rubino, Joe. “Carl’s Jr Has Cooked up a CBD Burger and It Will Be Selling It Exclusively at One Denver Location on 4/20.”

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