There has been quite a lot of hype around cannabidiol (CBD) in the past couple of years. Though it has historically been left out of the spotlight in favor of its high-inducing sister cannabinoid, THC, there has been an unprecedented rise in its popularity. But despite the persistence of this new trend, and prospective bills that would significantly increase its production, many experts believe that CBD is overhyped and that growth will soon slow. That raises an important question—is CBD on its way out or is it here to stay?
The compound’s sharp rise in popularity really isn’t as shocking as most market analysts would lead you to believe. It’s clear enough that attitudes toward CBD are far more favorable than toward THC (as far as comfortability and acceptance go—even if some of that comfort is based on false assumptions about its medicinal properties) since it’s no doubt the least controversial of the two. CBD doesn’t have the psychoactive features that give THC the ability to induce a high—the most criticized quality of marijuana products. In fact, it’s been found to moderately suppress highs.
And now that CBD has been packaged, mixed, baked, and stirred into just about every conceivable food, drink, and toiletry product out there, more and more barriers that would have typically turned would-be-consumers away are crumbling, and it’s earning CBD a loyal consumer-base in serious, hobby, and brand-new cannabis-product users. Now it’s unavoidable, less stigmatized, and allegedly “good for you.”
People have attributed miraculous healing properties to CBD, though these have not once been proven to exist in medical trials. Why should we expect CBD-infused bars of soap or coffee to take effect if even the scientifically controlled and administered products have yet to prove themselves? That’s not to say that no medicinal effect has been found. But those that have been discovered are much less impressive than some of the hearsay out there might lead you to believe, and there’s no reason to think that those effects aren’t destroyed when CBD is infused into new products and ingested in different ways.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approval Epidiolex, the first cannabis-based drug (made out of a CBD solution) that aims to help children with debilitating diseases. This drug is expected to drastically change the cannabis market since it’s made of CBD derived from cannabis as opposed to hemp. There’s a pretty big difference between the two: while cannabis-derived CBD contains a bit of THC and around 20% of CBD, hemp-derived CBD contains a mere 3.5% CBD.
As you may guess, products infused with hemp-derived CBD are the ones you see in convenience stores and gas stations even in states that have made no move toward legalizing marijuana. Alongside the approval of Epidiolex, the Farm Bill, that in part aims to end the ban on hemp production, is expected to be signed into law. Time will tell if it can make it through Congress and get a signature, but if it does, the hemp-derived CBD industry is expected to drastically increase as struggling farmers begin producing the valuable cash crop.
The FDA’s approval of Epidiolex puts pressure on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to reclassify CBD. The marijuana from which it’s derived is currently a Schedule I drug, meaning it is considered to have no medical use—but if it’s rescheduled, that will create an entirely new market for CBD products. The prospects of rescheduling and the Farm Bill bode very well for CBD. We can’t be sure about what the future holds for this once-overlooked compound, but if the demand holds on for a few more months, it could really start to bloom.