The unprecedented wave of cannabis legalization has set the country in a scenario that a few decades ago would’ve seemed unimaginable. With news about the booming cannabis industry, its political developments, and its social implications taking over media, many people are beginning to wonder if an investment in cannabis is the way to go.
Since the usual talk on cannabis tends to put all of its derivatives in the same bag, it’s natural that THC, with such appealing and controversial attributes, would be the one to make most of the headlines, leaving CBD somewhat eclipsed.
However, while THC was getting all the attention, CBD’s social and political acceptance quietly grew stronger. Today, Cannabidiol is ready to leave the cannabis nest, giving way to a whole new sub-industry that could outgrow the THC market in its entirety.
There is Already an FDA Approved Drug with CBD
When discussing cannabis businesses and their legal status, the fact that cannabis is still essentially illegal under federal law is hardly ever missed. This detail is not minor because, although many states have opened up to the recreational and medical use of the plant, federal hindrances still stand in the way of many industry developments, like proper medical research and the possibility for organic certifications.
The recent FDA’s approval of Epidiolex, a “CBD oral solution for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy”, is a major step forward in grating CBD the legal status it deserves, and getting both the government and society to accept its medical benefits and separate them from their association THC’s recreational characteristics.
CBD Can be Derived from Hemp
While both are members of the cannabis family, marijuana and hemp differ primarily in the fact that the first one contains high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, at least between 5% and 35%. Hemp’s maximum THC levels are of 0.3%, and, though it lacks any intoxicating or psychoactive effects, it does include CBD within it’s cannabinoid list, making it possible to derive CBD products from it.
Hemp has been cultivated by mankind for over five-thousand years, and its uses far exceed those of marijuana. While marijuana is essentially produced as a source of THC and CBD, hemp has a wide array of applications that range from textile products to nutritionally rich edibles.
So, while the commercialization of marijuana-derived CBD falls under the same restrictions as THC products, and would need to be done in states where marijuana has been decriminalized, hemp-derived CBD could very soon benefit from full legalization under federal law.
Although it’s not exactly accurate to say the hemp-derived CBD is completely legal in all 50 states, it’s definitely fair to state that legal gray areas surrounding its condition make it a lot more tolerated by US federal law. Usual claims supporting hemp’s legality include quotes from the 2014 Farm Bill, which makes the cultivation of industrial hemp allowed under certain specific conditions. Though this bill is still not enough evidence to stand against the DEA, who still considers hemp and marijuana to be one and the same, things are about to change quite soon. Every prediction is leaning towards the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, which includes the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, responsible for removing hemp from the controlled substances act altogether.
Imminent changes in hemp legislation could certainly allow for hemp-derived CBD to enjoy a much smoother ride than THC, in the path towards industry expansion.
International Organizations Have Recognized it as Unharmful
Although each nation handles their legislation for drug commercialization independently, international opinion is a key factor in shaping public opinion, which ultimately sees itself reflected in federal law.
That’s why, when last year the World Health Organization recognized that “in its pure state, cannabidiol (CBD) does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm”, the news impacted the sector positively.
Another major step forward in the international scene happened this year when the World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from its ‘Prohibited List’, greenlighting high-performance athletes to use CBD and still compete in official events.
CBD Has a Wider Social Acceptance
CBD’s multiple health benefits have helped spread the compound’s image of a potentially helpful substance, keeping it away, in the eyes of many, from the negative effects generally associated with weed. Though full, unconditional acknowledgment from conservative sectors in the country is still a foggy projection in today’s horizon, the difference between THC and CBD is becoming clearer every day in unspecialized audiences. Celebrities like Jennifer Anniston and Morgan Freeman raving about its benefits, definitely helped this development, adding to the list stars like Whoopi Goldberg, Olivia Wilde and Mandy Moore.
It Can be Marketed to Wider Audiences
Since CBD is mainly used for its healing and relaxing potential, as opposed to THC, which is also used for its intoxicating features, its marketing possibilities are a lot more ample, given that it can be consumed by a much broader public.
Even in the states where THC is legal for recreational use, buyers must be at least 21 years of age in most cases, or 18 years old in a few states which are the exception. If a patient taking medicinal THC is underage, an adult guardian must be responsible for purchasing the medicine from an allowed dealer. However, hemp-derived CBD can theoretically be purchased by anyone, regardless of their age, as long as hemp is not considered a schedule 1 drug in that particular situation.
Regardless of who’s allowed to buy it, the fact that CBD’s attributes have been proven effective in children and even pets, on top of it being used for in a broader spectrum of situations than THC, grants it a much more appealing potential when considering possible buyers.
CBD Market May Outgrow the Entire Cannabis Industry
Though projections for the future are still being debated, some analysis, like one recently released by Brightfield Group, state a possible industry growth that would take the CBD market towards becoming a 22 billion dollar industry by 2022, thus surpassing the whole cannabis industry’s expected size of 25 Billion by 2025, as published by New Frontier Data’s projections.
Although Brightfield’s report has received its fair share of criticism regarding its criteria, it’s widely accepted that, in spite of recent developments and forthcoming events, the CBD market is bound to experience a tremendous growth within the next few years.