The CBD Sales Boom
Sales and promotions of CBD products are exploding. Industry analysts predict the market in the U.S. will reach $1 billion a year by 2020.
CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in marijuana and made into elixirs, balms, tinctures and other products. The products are used for virtually everything bothering on health and beauty, including stress reduction, beauty, hygiene, and general wellness.
CBD skin creams promise a tingly feeling during a massage. CBD-infused mascara hypes high-volume lashes with just one hit. CBD sleep masks have antioxidants and moisturizers. CBD is in a personal lubricant and in bath bombs. Some CBD oils are marketed for anxiety relief.
Bethany Gomez, director of research for the Brightfield Group, a market research firm focused on the cannabis industry said:
“We see it as being the hot new ingredient,” says. “When we talk to people about it, the perception is, ‘Isn’t it good for everything?”
According to Gomez, the popularity of CBD products is rising, mainly due to word of mouth. A growing public acceptance of marijuana plays into the sales explosion, too.
Experts warn that substantial evidence for most benefits is lacking. The industry has no set standards. A CBD product may not deliver what it promises on the label, experts added. Despite Internet marketing implying anyone can buy CBD products, that’s not the case legally.
CBD, Cannabis, Hemp, and the Law
Martin Lee, co-founder of Project CBD, a nonprofit educational news service, refers to CBD as ”non-intoxicating.” It can come from the marijuana or hemp variety of the cannabis plant.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says CBD is legal in the 30 states that have legalized medical or recreational use of marijuana and in 17 other states that have legalized some form of CBD. But like marijuana, it is still not legal on the federal level.
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“CBD is interpreted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, National Institute on Drug Abuse, FDA, and Congress to be a Schedule I substance, and therefore it is not legal in all 50 states,” Armentano says.
The products are also illegal for use in pets, and the American Veterinary Medical Association warns pet owners against using all marijuana products in animals. While some states allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana, there “are currently no absolutions for veterinarians at any level,” says Michael San Filippo, a Veterinary Medical Association spokesman.
In spite of the legal restrictions in some states, CBD products are extensively sold over the Internet. Some sites ask users to confirm they are 21.
Armentano, who tracks such sales says there have been ”busts” in some retail stores selling CBD illegally, ‘but these actions generally are occurring on behalf of state, not federal agencies.”
While federal law views the sale of CBD as illegal, some experts say enforcement doesn’t appear to be a precedence for federal officials right now. Online sales of CBD products are “illegal in the entire U.S.,” says Barbara Carreno, a DEA spokeswoman, due to their classifications as a Schedule I drug. “The DEA can and does investigate large-scale trafficking of Schedule I substances.”
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But she says the DEA has limited resources and must focus them on issues such as the opioid crisis and the problems of methamphetamines and cocaine.
CBD: Where’s the Proof?
“There is essentially hearsay evidence that CBD is effective for a lot of things, says Gomez of the Brightfield Group marketing firm. However, there is currently not too much in terms of peer-reviewed published research.”
Lee says there is research on CBD for pain, but he is not aware of any published research on CBD for wellness applications such as beauty products.
Though experts agree that the strongest use for CBD is seizure reduction in epilepsy.
In April, an FDA advisory panel recommended approval of the drug Epidiolex, an oral CBD solution, for treating seizures in two rare forms of epilepsy. The FDA is not bound by recommendations from the advisory panel, but it typically follows them.
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A Cornell University veterinary scientist reported at a professional meeting that CBD helped ease pain in dogs with arthritis and chronic joint pain.
CBD Anxiety Study
Staci Gruber, PhD, director of Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery (MIND) at McLean Hospital, says “I think the evidence is good that in a lab-based situation, CBD decreases social anxiety.”
Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, hopes to begin enrolling in June.
Although CBD isn’t psychoactive, there can be side effects including fatigue, sleepiness, less appetite, weight gain, and diarrhea.
Researchers say they want to carry out more research on CBD. But federal regulations impede them, says Angela Bryan, PhD, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado Boulder. ”The laws for researching CBD are the same as for THC,” she says. CBD, like marijuana, is viewed the same as heroin and LSD — as a drug of ”high potential abuse” with ”no currently accepted medical use.”
Studying CBD alone is vital, Bryan says, to find out exactly what it can do. But studying a combination of CBD and THC may also be valuable and should also be researched, she says.