CBD on-trend: how brands are cashing in on the unregulated cannabis boom
A few years ago, CBD was a relatively unheard-of resource, primarily associated with the consumption of a once-illegal drug. But as cannabis is becoming more and more legal across the states, it’s not just dispensaries that are cashing in on the suddenly on-trend state of marijuana as a whole. Hundreds of brands, both new and old, are now proudly advertising CBD in all its forms as a cure-all for countless ailments, from anxiety in animals to glaucoma in humans.
But as CBD has become a buzzword in the media, complete with Instagram influencers and an all-new ‘health and wellness’ status, are brands taking advantage of individuals by claiming CBD can do more than it’s actually capable of? Or have we just been missing out on the revolutionary quality of CBD for years before the start of legalization?
In the news, cannabis has gone from being a ‘serious concern’ to a positive influence in countless people’s lives across the US. As the marketing surrounding the chemical becomes more abundant and more commercialized, there only seems to be more and more ways for brands to promote, create and develop brand-new CBD products, each one supposedly more effective than the last. Despite CBD having specific medicinal properties, it’s somehow fallen into the same category of hair vitamins and crystal therapies as something that’s very much millennial and not so much helpful.
According to Forbes, the CBD market is due to be worth £22 billion in just three years. The Oscars even featured both THC and CBD products in this year’s goodie bags – as marijuana becomes more mainstream, it seems to be growing less attainable by the people that need it most. The price of CBD and THC products is sharply rising, with the introduction of countless luxury versions of anything from edibles to spliffs and anything else in-between.
Before we explore how the trend of CBD is leading to one of the biggest wellness booms in history, it’s vital first to understand the benefits of the ‘miracle’ product. There’s no doubt that CBD is highly effective in some medicinal capacities, but it’s important to note that often what brands are selling isn’t exactly what this single product can achieve. From alleviating all signs of anxiety – something usually associated with CBD in combination with THC rather than CBD alone – through to reducing inflammation in the body, CBD research is in the early stages but has shown some effect on these areas.
So, what is CBD? An extract of the cannabis plant, CBD has none of the psychoactive effects of THC, the primary source of the ‘high’ within marijuana. Instead, this isolated cannabinoid works in the brain to create specific effects and even modify certain behaviors, with early research suggesting CBD can improve sleep in anxious individuals. The chemical was also heavily involved in the battle to approve cannabis for children with severe epilepsy, which came to a head in 2013 in a high-profile case.
Since the world has become more aware of cannabis as a potential wellness booster as opposed to a dangerous drug, the media and brands began to cash in on that change in opinion; especially in the USA, where legalization has gone from 0 to 100 in next to no time, for both medical and recreational purposes. Cannabis news went from discussing the issues surrounding legalization to promoting the various benefits of this now-legal drug, and as public perception did a 180, brands began to latch on to the concept of CBD – and cannabis as a whole – as something that could be sold at a high price to the right buyer.
Since 2013, the CBD boom has only expanded more and more. With little regulation in the way in which CBD is advertised, sold or promoted, it has grown to just about every corner of popular culture and social media. From influencers advertising their favorite flavored brand to wellness companies talking about the countless benefits and advantages of CBD for everyone, from small children to pets. Under the FDA, there’s still very little information about how CBD will be defined, and what this will mean for the future of the business.
In what ways are brands cashing in on CBD? What was once a relatively obscure, if legal, product, that could be purchased through a range of supplement suppliers, has been brought straight into the spotlight by the introduction of America’s legalization laws for marijuana. This represents a middle point between actual cannabis and the ‘old ways’ of the USA, in which smoking a spliff was not only frowned upon but harshly punished by law. For many respectable citizens, CBD is the half-way point between them and the real thing, and brands have majorly capitalized on this placement by advertising CBD products as more friendly, natural and ‘kind’ than full THC options on the market.
One notable way in which CBD’s popularity can be tracked is through the products now available on the market. While a few years ago CBD remained a less-palatable solution placed under the tongue for health purposes, the chemical is now available in anything from vapes to lotions, ice creams to coffee, hair supplements to sleeping tablets. All of which is advertised as being more natural, effective and powerful than alternatives without breaking down that barrier into ‘taking drugs’.
With a lack of FDA regulation and little mature research into CBD as a daily supplement, sleeping tablet or any other form of medical/non-medical treatment, these brands are cashing in on the CBD market by offering younger or more impressionable consumers products that may have health bonuses, but certainly don’t do all they say on the tin.
For individuals looking to invest in CBD for their own purposes, it can be tempting to go for the more high-end products; maybe the ingredients will have higher purity, or the results will be more desirable. But with little regulation, brands can hike the price up on a relatively low to medium-cost product to extreme levels; something that could be equated to other wellness crazes, such as high-cost water bottles or fitness apparel that offers the same results as cheaper options.
On the other hand, the variety and range of products now offered complete with CBD also provides a great many choices for the consumer, allowing them to pick something suitable for them; such as coffee, chewable vitamins or even vapes that enable them to access to CBD that would otherwise be difficult. In this way, brands are raising awareness of CBD; even if the way they go about it, and the lack of research surrounding each promise brands make, is currently unfounded.
From pet treats to mints, luxury chocolates to flavored tinctures, the vast range of choices available to today’s consumers is overwhelming. As more and more brands cash in on the cannabis gold-rush, there’s no doubt that the landscape of marijuana culture has changed now more than ever before – and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing yet. While CBD research may still be in its infancy, there has undoubtedly been some proof that cannabinoid can have some positive influence, making it a viable future alternative to other less natural approaches once we have a clearer idea of what other benefits this unique chemical holds.