Ben & Jerry’s is well known for making the grooviest ice cream, with flavors like Half Baked and Dave Matthews Band Magic Brownies. So it was no surprise when they announced that CBD-infused ice cream was coming to a freezer near you last year.
So, where’s their hemp-infused flavor?
Ben & Jerry’s announcement was just a few months ahead of a hearing conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss legalizing CBD in food and beverages. The ice cream company added a comment to the proposal in favor of legalization at the federal level and encouraged their fans to do the same.
After the 2018 Farm Bill legalized growing and selling hemp, with the stipulation that it should contain no more than 0.3% THC by weight, retailers geared up to infuse everything from eye cream to ice cream with CBD.
The same summer, the FDA approved a CBD-based drug designed to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. The drug, called Epidiolex, was seen as a symbolic victory for CBD advocates—at first glance.
Instead, this breakthrough blurred the lines further. While advocates assumed this meant CBD would be legal, it instead tossed the cannabinoid categorically into the realm of “pharmaceuticals.”
After all, you can’t add a drug to a food.
In an attempt to shed some light in this murky water, the FDA held its hearing May 31st, 2019. While they received comments from massive food and drink retailers, Ben & Jerry’s among them, they also heard from scientists and medical personnel regarding the safety, guidelines, and suggested regulations of CBD in food and drink.
Ultimately, the FDA stood its ground, denying the use of CBD in food and beverages at this time.
So, if the FDA prohibits CBD food and beverage products, why are some companies still selling it?
The answer lies in the confusion.
While New York City and Los Angeles began cracking down on CBD chefs and mixologists following the FDA’s 2019 news conference, other places, like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and the rest of California, are refusing to take action until the laws are clarified.
The FDA itself only sporadically enforces the law. While large retailers like Ben & Jerry’s and Whole Foods hold off until CBD food and beverages are federally legalized, smaller retailers are willing to take a chance.
The fact is that CBD is a booming industry. CBD products are expected to reach $16 billion in sales in the U.S. by 2025.
For small time merchants, CBD-infused products are small add-ons that add up. A fruit smoothie with a few milligrams of CBD inflates by $2.95. A CBD chocolate or CBD-infused hemp tea can cost upwards of $5.
When Can You Expect Ben & Jerry’s CBD Ice Cream?
Until CBD food and beverages are legalized at the federal level, we’ll be left spoon-in-hand. You’ll have to look to your local, smaller retailers to soothe your CBD sweet tooth.