With legal cannabis and cannabis-related products spreading throughout the northern hemisphere, this was inevitable: Ben & Jerry's, the Vermont-based ice cream brand long identified with hippie-era stoner culture, is making its own brand of CBD-infused ice cream.
There's just one problem, and it's big enough to have delayed Ben & Jerry's rollout -- quite a bit. Bloomberg reported on Monday about why this flavor of ice cream has been delayed since the company announced it in 2019:
With Covid in the U.S. winding down (fingers crossed), the Consumer Brands Association is bringing lobbying efforts for federal cannabis legislation back to its “front burner,” said Stacy Papadopoulos, the trade group’s general counsel. While small brands are forging ahead, big companies are seeking more clarity and remain hesitant due to the patchwork of state regulations and uncertainty about what types of products could be allowed, she said.
“Most of our large recognizable brands are sitting on the sidelines,” she said. “They don’t want to subject themselves to lawsuits or, even worse, that something they were doing in the space was not entirely safe for consumers.”
At its core, the problem is navigating all the fine details of what states will allow various cannabis-based items to be sold inside their borders and what states have laws preventing distribution. The market is essentially still too new and the COVID-19 pandemic threw an extra wrench in the process to boot, punching businesses of all kinds in the gut with loss of government attention, funding, customers -- the list is long.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a chemical component found in the cannabis plant which is related to THC but doesn't get you high. It's supposedly got a number of therapeutic applications anyway and has been used for a variety of issues, including chronic pain, anxiety, inflammation, and depression.
So Ben & Jerry's wants to enhance ice cream's already well-known therapeutic ability—previously rooted solely in its calorie-dense deliciousness.
Here's a portion of Ben & Jerry's statement about their new ingredient:
So it’s no surprise that we can’t wait to get into the latest food trend: cannabidiol, or CBD. We are open to bringing CBD-infused ice cream to your freezer as soon as it’s legalized at the federal level.
Notice that qualification, "as soon as it's legalized?" Yeah, there's one little hitch, as Ben & Jerry's admits: "Currently, the FDA prohibits adding CBD to food and beverages."
Once it's legal, though, Ben & Jerry's will have you and their associates and contractors in Vermont covered:
We want to use sustainably-sourced CBD from our home state of Vermont. After all, values-led sourcing is an important part of our process when we churn up new ice cream innovations. By using high-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients, we support our linked prosperity model, ensuring that everyone involved with making our flavors — from the cocoa farmers to the Scoop Shop scoopers — is positively impacted.
We source our brownies from Greyston Bakery, which has an innovative open-door hiring policy, and our cookie dough comes from Rhino Foods, which employs refugees and sources its dairy locally from the St. Albans Co-op.
How soon might we see that happy-looking little green tub in the freezer section? That isn't clear, but you can tell the FDA how you feel about it between now and July 2, 2019.
Let's admit it, this is a match made in chilled-out ice cream heaven, and the government needs to know if you're into it.