What is The Future of CBD in America?
Perhaps nothing since the cell phone, or especially the iPhone, has caused such a consumer furor than CBD. Near-miraculous medical claims mix with questions about its efficacy and dangers. All while proponents and entrepreneurs scramble to capitalize on the huge public interest. But what does the future of CBD hold for users and producers in the United States?
At this point in time, every prognosticator’s crystal ball seems cloudy. Opinions abound, but there is no definitive word concerning pending regulation or future medical studies. In the meantime, let’s take a glimpse at this virtual runaway train and see if we can discern any clues to shed light on the future of CBD.
It may surprise readers to learn that many people are still largely ignorant of CBD innovation, CBD products, and the general hoopla surrounding the topic. So first, a little education may be in order.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, one of several chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. But it gets more complicated from here. To date, scientists have identified over 100 different cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. The most popularly known is THC, likely because it creates a sense of euphoria in the user.
The human body maintains normal function through several regulatory processes, governed or controlled by our endocannabinoid system (ECS). Certain neuro receptors throughout the body interact with CBD, impacting the function of our brain, liver, thyroid, peripheral nervous system, and other organs.
Scientific research has proven that CBD causes our bodies to increase its production of endocannabinoids. The result of increased endocannabinoid production appears to be better management of painful conditions, reduction of inflammation, and a lessening of the symptoms of anxiety.
Although use of cannabis has been highly debated since its discovery, The Hemp Farming Act of 2018 has contributed the most to the recent explosion in the popularity of CBD and CBD products. The new law legalized the industrial growth of hemp, as well as the recreational and medical use of non-flowering cannabis plants in all 50 states (although some states still outlaw the use of CBD products at the state level). As you can imagine, suddenly CBD products are now in high demand. Since early 2019, sales of CBD products of all types have increased over 700%.
The US CBD oil market is predicted to reach about $1.8 billion in sales by 2022. And this oil can now be found in a variety of consumer products, including:
- Gummies / chewables
- Cold drinks
- Canned goods
With the ever-expanding possibilities brought about by now-legal CBD innovation, farmers and manufacturers are scrambling to produce more to satisfy consumer demand, while visions of immense profits dance in their heads.
So, just how popular is CBD? According to Google Trends, May 2019 alone saw three times more search queries for CBD than for Beyoncé. Popular celebrities see promise in the future of CBD, with no less than Martha Stewart getting on board by developing a line of CBD products for both pets and people.
Unshackled by Regulation
Unlike many products that are widely available, CBD products are completely unshackled by regulation. Currently, the US Food and Drug Administration has issued no formal guidelines about quality testing, labeling, warnings, claims about use or benefits, or who may manufacture or sell CBD products.
Although still considered illegal to market as a dietary supplement or as an additive in foods, many companies are doing just that with no legal challenges. In fact, CBD sodas and gummies are among some of the most popular products. Some local jurisdictions are attempting to at least curb the tendencies of entrepreneurs to add CBD to food, but their efforts are sparse and weak.
And why is so little known about CBD and its effects? Primarily because academic research on cannabis and associated derivatives has been restricted for decades. One article paints this absurdity in these terms:
“About one-quarter of the US population live in parts of the country where cannabis can be purchased legally as easily as beer, yet research on what they are consuming is highly restricted.”
With research into “illegal” substances being forbidden at the federal level, securing funding for such research is essentially impossible. Now that the cultivation of hemp is legal, clinical trials on the effects of cannabinoids can move forward, but such research efforts take years before producing any results. And millions of consumers are currently filling up on CBD products of every stripe.
One researcher at New York University Langone Health currently studying CBD’s effects on anxiety, stated that “the chemical held significant promise,” but “it would take a decade to gather enough information for FDA approval as a drug with standardized dosages and predictable outcomes.” The researcher went further to warn consumers that currently, in some cases, it is impossible to know what you are buying, its quality, or even if the product contains any CBD at all. This leaves the research into the quality of the product entirely in the hands of the consumer, which is why it is important to shop CBD brands that offer independently-verified lab results for their products.
The amount of concrete research evidence about the benefits of CBD is scarce. One review from 1976 looked at THC with CBN used as a sedative; a study in 2002 examined the pain-relieving effects of CBD and THC; a 2017 research study cites conclusive evidence that CBD is effective in treating nausea, chronic pain, and MS.
Much else that can be found about the efficacy of CBD oil and CBD products is anecdotal. The lack of funding for research means that consumers must turn to the experiences of other users for information on the effects, benefits, and side effects of CBD. But, judging by the boom in sales, clearly, people are finding CBD effective for treating their ailments and issues, whatever those may be.
What About the Future?
At this point in time, public opinion is guiding the ship. Demand is high, hemp farming is legal, and the door is wide open to produce and sell practically any CBD product with limited restrictions. Researchers and physicians alike agree that more testing and some regulation is necessary to guarantee public safety and product quality.
Proponents of CBD innovation believe that awareness of the benefits of CBD will grow as more research is conducted. This will continue the upsurge in demand for CBD products and medical treatments. In other words, they welcome more proof because it will only drive the industry forward to even new heights.
The one factor expected to slow CBD popularity is the lack of regulation. As more scams and fake products are discovered, this will breed a necessary caution among consumers. Product labeling will become more important and flagrant claims will subside as public knowledge grows. This is a good thing. While some brands are using the gaps in regulation to exploit consumers, many CBD Brands are already taking proactive steps to provide high-quality, properly tested and labeled CBD products in an effort to legitimize CBD and its usage.
However, efforts at federal regulation have already begun and will continue, even against consumer pressure. Until more guidelines are in place for growers and manufacturers, the FDA has compiled an extensive amount of information for consumers to aid in purchasing and using CBD products.
For entrepreneurs, the future of CBD-related business is a huge opportunity, even when regulations are finally established. For consumers, the watchword is common sense. Choose products wisely and read labels to be sure you are getting what you expect. At Root Wellness, we provide detailed lab results for all our products, so you know exactly what you are getting. Overall, the future of CBD in America is bright; CBD is here to stay, and overall, we think that we are all the better for it.