The CBD Industry in 2019

If your workplace isn’t yet stocking CBD products, it’s only a matter of time before they do. It’s impossible to deny the recent surge in popularity of CBD products – but why is it suddenly so popular? There are countless factors that have contributed to the recent growth within the CBD industry. One of the most influential catalysts to this growth was the story of Charlotte’s Web which hit headlines in 2013.

Charlotte’s Web is a CBD extract manufactured in America. It was named after a young girl named Charlotte Figi, who suffered from a rare and severe form of epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome. Dravet Syndrome cannot be medicated, and can lead to developmental problems and even sudden death in those with the condition. Charlotte’s parents, who had tried every single legal treatment option available to them at this point, worked with marijuana growers to develop a strain suitable for medical use.

The treatment was a success – her seizures fell from 300 a month to no more than three in a month (Osborne, 2014). Charlotte’s story lead to an explosion in the use of CBD to treat varying forms of epilepsy in both children and adults. Emotive and passionate testimonials, such as those attributed to the story of Charlotte’s Web, have been a leading factor in swaying the public conscious in favour of CBD usage. These stories, needless to say, piqued the curiosity of thousands, as it takes a different approach to the drug that has been criminalised since the 1920’s.

There are plenty of stories out there that range from anxiety and chronic-pain relief to completely curing cancer. The Cannabis Trades Association UK reported that the number of people buying CBD doubled in number from 2017 to a staggering quarter of a million purchases in 2018 (Cannabis Trades Association, 2019). The popularity has been led largely by the United States, in particular those states that have started to legalise cannabis.

The gradual legalisation of cannabis means that the historic view of cannabis as a stigmatised, illegal and harmful substance is on the decline. As the stigma declines, purchases of cannabis-infused products increase. This has led to a massive growth in the market for such products.

CBD was first introduced to the UK on a commercial scale when health food chain Holland & Barrett began stocking medical cannabis oil in 2018. Over the past 12 months there has been a surge in mainstream media raising awareness of what CBD is and the potential benefits it can have. Tabloids leverage public interest by sensationalising CBD, often mislabelling it as a ‘marijuana’ product instead of a cannabis product. The ‘marijuana’ connection these publications falsely make tends to raise eyebrows and stir up discussion.

On the flip side, however, other publications are taking a more genuine approach with their reporting. Interest articles, like Velasquez-Manoff’s recent piece for The New York Times Magazine (2019), delves deep into the history and science behind CBD allowing the reader to form their own opinion of the product. Increased awareness leads to a demand for better research and clinical evidence to support the so-called benefits of CBD. Other factors that have contributed to CBD’s rising popularity include recent changes in the law, and the sheer versatility of the product itself.

A challenge that the CBD industry now faces is how to meet the demand for accurate research and education on CBD products. The current lack of regulation around CBD further limits the potential for legitimate research and education. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) provide guidelines that determine whether a product is a medicinal product or not.

The MHRA outlines the following as some examples of medical claims (MHRA, 2016)

• References to disease symptoms such as pain or inflammation

• References to a range of major and minor ailments, both physical and mental

These existing guidelines provided by MHRA are currently used to regulate CBD products. In a publication by the Cannabis Trades Association (2019), it is stated emphatically that the following claims are not allowed to be used with relation to any CBD product, among many others:

• That products can treat or cure an illness

• That products can be compared to licenced medicines

• That any medical professional has recommended the product

What is allowed, under recommendation by the MHRA guidelines and Cannabis Trades Association (2019), is that CBD can be described to “maintain” or “support” a healthy lifestyle, as these claims can be approved under food law. With all the technicalities and legal jargon aside, it’s fair to say that the growing popularity of CBD products is fairly noticibale. It has risen in popularity by a wide margin even the the past year. To add to this, the market for CBD products has grown so much that pharacies are now getting on board in the mainstream Health Care industry.

The premise for this, as mentioned prior, is that the attitudes of the public are becoming less stigmatised towards cannabidiol-based products. By that, the public are viewing CBD less like an illegal drug and more as a medicine. The long term outlook on the CBD market looks promising, and this is patially due to people being more accepting about cannabis and cannabidiol usage.

According to a publication in Buissness Matters Magazine (2019), American buissness analysists are suggested that the CBD market will ammount to an estimated $22 billion (£16.8 billion) by 2022. Such a steep rise in the predicted market popularity has come directly from a variety of reason. Going forward, what will inevitably improve the CBD industry is gaining further support from the mainstream side of the preventative healthcare sector. This is curcial for the CBD industry to survive, thive, and continoue to provide positive life changes for the people that use it.

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