Why is CBD a Hot topic?
Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (much better known as the Farm Bill). This law recognised a new category of cannabis classified as “hemp”: defined as cannabis & derivatives with no more than 0.3 percent THC on a dry weight basis. The Farm Bill removed hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. This paved the way for the commercialisation of Hemp derived CBD products. CBD producers, together with an army of entrepreneurs, immediately got busy creating consumer demand, rapidly building a flourishing D2C market for CBD products.
Consumers Believe in CBD’s Potency and Efficacy
Despite a current lack of scientific evidence, CBD’s success as a ‘supplement’ is built on its perceived scope of usage and strong consumer belief in its potency and efficacy. Its growth is fuelled by an active blogger sphere and extensive social media activity by paid influencers, driving a rapidly widening consumer base. As you can see from the graphic, CBD believers will turn to the product in answering a range of chronic physical and mental conditions.
The Market for Chronic Pain Relief / Depression / Insomnia is huge
Here’s some data from the US based National Institute on Drug Abuse. In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died as a result of an opioid overdose, including (but not limited to) prescription opioids. Also in 2017, an estimated 1.7 million people in the United States suffered from substance use disorders related to prescription opioid pain relievers. Figures / estimates seem to vary but let’s conservatively say that the the prescription market for Opioids is worth at least USD10Bn.
CBD Will Play a Medicinal Role, but More Research is Needed
According to the WHO (World Health Organisation) CBD is ‘Generally Regarded As Safe’ (GRAS).
In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD. WHO, November 2017.
That is to say that CBD is non-addictive, and without serious side effects in otherwise healthy individuals. Thus the potential for CBD to act as a safer alternative to many prescription medicines is obvious. But some CBD manufacturers have come under official (FDA) scrutiny for making indefensible claims: CBD is a ‘cure-all for cancer’ and so on. More research is required: Without high-quality evidence from human trials it’s impossible to pinpoint effective doses*. And because CBD is currently only freely available as an unregulated ‘supplement’, it’s difficult to know exactly what you are getting in your $50 CBD tincture. This is why reputable producers have taken it upon themselves to offer 3rd party lab testing of their products.
* If you want to try CBD for yourself the anecdotal advice we have been given is to start with 15mg / day.
CBD in Skincare and as an Emotional Ingredient
The CBD market is rapidly developing beyond single feature products (i.e. CBD in different ‘generic’ mediums). In department stores you can already buy all kinds of high-end skincare products, featuring CBD together with other ingredients to create more complex propositions. CBD is relevant to skincare (and other topical led applications) because of its potential as an anti-inflammatory. Beyond skin care we enter the realm of CBD in everything. CBD drinks. CBD pet food. CBD Hummus. Arguably things can go so far as to bring the compound into disrepute: If it’s in everything, all the time, it becomes workaday, like vitamin fortification perhaps. In drinks like Recess, CBD is combined with so-called Adaptogens (the re-branding of Ayurvedic herbs for the nutraceutical age) to create more emotionally-led or lifestyle level propositions.
That’s all for Article #2 in R&B’s CBD Explainer Series. Next week: CBD Regulatory.