From skin cream to juice and cocktails to chocolates, CBD-infused everything is taking over the wellness industry.
Claiming to relieve inflammation, anxiety, and pain, CBD has gone from niche use to mainstream supplement almost overnight. As Shannon Barnett—the founder of Sana Sana Wellness—put it when speaking to The Ringer, “CBD’s the new kale, the new buzzword… You see CBD in everything.”
With the CBD craze showing no signs of slowing down, let’s dig into what’s what.
What is it?
To most people, marijuana is THC, but there are at least 80 chemical compounds in cannabis called cannabinoids. THC is the one that gets people stoned. CBD, on the other hand, isn’t psychoactive. The appeal, then, is that CBD offers some of marijuana’s therapeutic effects without the high.
Does it actually work?
Like most “wellness” products, it depends on who you ask. With limited scientific research on the books, it’s hard to make a definitive statement in favor of or against CBD. However, multiple studies have found evidence that CBD can treat epilepsy, serve as a therapy for schizophrenia, and alleviate joint pain, among other ailments.
According to Colorado State University’s Thorsten Rudroff, who has studied how people with multiple sclerosis respond to CBD, “the cannabinoid has definitely helped with muscle spasticity,” Still, Rudroff believes, as do other medical experts, that CBD should be studied further, saying: “We need more research, especially about cannabis in general, and also about the CBD products. We don’t know, right now, how much CBD a patient should take, in which form—smoking, or edibles, or oil—it’s unknown. We don’t know the exact dosages here.”
What’s the big deal?
CBD has quickly become a big business — one that’s projected to experience exponential growth.
Whether or not it works, the wellness industry wants you to believe that CBD is a trendy cure-all. So, don’t be surprised to see CBD-infused everything. From lip balm to moisturizer and human snacks to dog treats, CBD products are flooding the market.
And the cannabidiod (CBD) market, according to Forbes, is expected to undergo a 700% spike in sales by 2020. Similarly, the Hemp Business Journal projects that the CBD market will grow to $2.1 billion by 2020, which is a huge jump from 2017’s value of $202 million.
As you can imagine, this type of growth is attracting investors interested in capitalizing on massive upside. While the marijuana market remains unstable, due to pending legalization in various states and at the federal level, CBD is proving to be a less risky option.
As time goes on, expect to see massive investments in CBD-infused products from food service and technology companies like Cannabiniers. Recently, this California-based company launched Two Roots Brewing — what they’re calling “the world’s first line of non-alcoholic THC- and CBD-infused craft beer.” More impressive than the product launch, though, is the fact that Cannabiniers raised $19 million as part of a Series A fundraising round and is planning to raise $25 million Series B round to fund further expansion.
More money, more problems
With piles of money stacking up, problems are quick to follow. First, there are legal hurdles to clear — if recreational use is illegal in your state, higher-THC products will remain illegal as well. Then there’s also the fake-factor. Because many CBD companies are selling their products as a supplement, it’s not vetted by the FDA.
It should come as no surprise to learn that the supplement industry is rife with flaws, from inflating benefits to falsifying ingredients. Unfortunately, CBD supplements are not the exception. As a 2017 University of Pennsylvania study found, 70% of CBD products sold online do not contain what they claim to.
For now, as the medical and legal implications complicate its mainstream adoption, you can pop a CBD gummy to lighten the mood.
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