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 Enthusiasm for CBD or cannabidiol is part of a con­sumer trend to transition from over-the-counter or prescription drug use, including opioids, to natural remedies for health and wellness and alternative medical practices. CBD is one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa, a flowering plant, of which industrial hemp and marijuana are two varieties. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemicals in Cannabis sativa that interact with natural receptors in the brain and body to affect mood, appetite, pain response, and immunity, among other effects.  

For years, the federal government did not distinguish hemp from other cannabis plants, all of which were illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the production of hemp as an agricultural commodity and removed it from the list of controlled substances. It allows for the transfer of hemp-derived products across state lines for commercial or other purposes. It also puts no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products in all 50 states, so long as those items are produced in a manner consistent with the law.[1]

As defined by the CSA, if a hemp plant has more than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), it is marijuana. Marijuana continues to be classified as a schedule 1 substance under the CSA. It is legal for medicinal and recreational use in 11 states for adults over the age of 21 and legal for medicinal use in 33 states. CBD sourced from marijuana plants remains subject to individual state laws.

CBD Use is Growing

Among the latest figures on CBD growth, in 2019, investment banking firm Cowen & Associates[2]  forecast that the market could reach an estimated $16 billion by 2025. This figure represents a significant increase from the estimated retail sales of CBD products in 2018, ranging from $600 million to $2 billion.

 Attesting to the growing demand for CBD, a Gallup poll [3] also conducted in 2019 between June 19, and July 12 found that one in seven adults in America (or 14 percent) said they personally used CBD products. Age is a factor in usage:

  • Younger than 30 usage was 20 percent
  • 30-49 usage was 16 percent
  • 50-64 usage was 11 percent
  • 65 and up usage was 8 percent

Gallup also found regional differences in use, with those in the West at 21 percent more likely to indicate CBD products' use, compared with 11 percent in the East and Midwest and 13 percent in the South. Usage may have to do with the fact that marijuana use is legal in many Western states, and CBD products have been available in that region for a longer time.

Reasons for using CBD

There is a wide range of reasons users state for taking CBD, according to a study conducted by Brightfield Group,[4], a consumer insights and market intelligence company for the CBD and cannabis industries. The top reasons:

  • Anxiety                                                         67 percent
  • Insomnia or sleep problems                         60 percent
  • Joint pain and inflammation                         52 percent
  • Depression                                                   43 percent

Other reasons:

  • Muscle tension or strain                                 35 percent
  • Migraines or tension headaches                    34 percent
  • Severe or chronic pain                                   31 percent

How consumers are using CBD

LoudCloud Health[5], a trusted source for cannabis and CBD knowledge, reports that the most-used CBD products, according to consumers, are:

  • CBD oils and tinctures 44 percent
  • CBD topicals 26 percent
  • CBD capsules 22 percent
  • CBD infused beverages 19 percent

CBD use continues to grow as consumers seek natural remedies for relief from anxiety and pain and a host of other health and wellness issues and are increasingly aware that this natural compound does not have addictive or psychoactive effects. Also promising, a Consumer Reports survey found that 22 percent of people who took CBD said it helped them replace prescription or OTC drugs, with more than a third of them saying they used it to replace opioids.[6]

[1] Hudak, John, “The Farm Bill, hemp legalization and the status of CBD: An Explainer,” Brookings, December 14, 2018. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/fixgov/2018/12/14/the-farm-bill-hemp-and-cbd-explainer/
[2] Dorbian, Iris, “CBD Market Could Pull in $16 Billion by 2025,” Forbes, March 12, 2019. https://www.forbes.com/sites/irisdorbian/2019/03/12/cbd-market-could-pull-in-16-bln-by-2025-says-study/?sh=7dd708093efd
[3] Brenan, Megan, “14% of Americans Say They Use CBD Products,” Gallup, August 7, 2019. https://news.gallup.com/poll/263147/americans-say-cbd-products.aspx
[4] “Understanding Cannabidiol | CBD,” Brightfield Group, Accessed February 21, 2021. https://daks2k3a4ib2z.cloudfront.net/595e80a3d32ef41bfa200178/59946dd86c6b200001c5b9cb_CBD_-_HelloMD_Brightfield_Study_-_Expert_Report_-_FINAL.pdf
[5] “A Budding Industry: CBD Statistics and Trends (Infographic),” LoudCloud Health, Accessed February 22, 2021. https://loudcloudhealth.com/resources/cbd-statistics-infographic/
[6] Gill, Lisa, “CBD Goes Mainstream,” Consumer Reports, April 11, 2019. https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/cbd-goes-mainstream/