Hoping to piggyback off of the enthusiasm generated earlier this month by its largest competitor, Walgreens Pharmacy announced Wednesday its plans to sell CBD products in nine states. Soon, customers at about 1,500 stores will be able to purchase hemp CBD-infused beauty and skincare products. But if you’re looking for oils, tinctures or other ingestibles, you’ll have to source your CBD elsewhere.
Walgreens Doubles Down With Plan to Sell in More Stores and States than CVS
Health and beauty aisles in nearly 1,500 Walgreens stores in Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont will soon carry select CBD products, the company told CNBC on Wednesday. Compare that with CVS Pharmacy’s announcement earlier in March. Walgreens’ top competitor and the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., CVS is rolling out hemp-derived CBD products in 800 stores across seven states.
So far, however, Walgreens is staying tight-lipped about the specific brands and products stores will carry. But hemp-infused topicals like lip balm are an example of what Walgreens shoppers can expect. Based on the products CVS said its stores would carry, customers should also be on the lookout for creams, ointments, salves, roll-ons and other products applied to the skin. In a statement last week, Walgreens said that it had partnered with licensed CBD product manufacturers to source its new lineup.
Uncertain Regulatory Landscape Means No Oils and Edibles For Now
Earlier this year, Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law, which included a landmark provision altering the Controlled Substances Act for the first time. That change took hemp and hemp derivatives off the list of banned substances, paving the way for a massive hemp industry expansion nationwide.
But in the same way that weed-legal states are out of step with the federal prohibition on cannabis and THC, the end of the federal ban on hemp now contradicts state law in many places. So until individual states can pass legislation to update their statutes on hemp and CBD, major retailers will likely stick to the safest approach. Walgreens said it wants to ensure legal and regulatory compliance. And that means only selling CBD products in select states that have already green-lighted them.
Besides, the FDA won’t let anyone sell cannabidiol as a dietary supplement, even if the CBD is sourced from hemp. Given their prominence, major retailers like CVS and Walgreens won’t take the risk of offering oils or other CBD ingestibles. And for now, that means nothing that customers can put in their bodies—only on.
Still, Walgreens knows that consumers are increasingly turning to alternative health and beauty products. And CBD’s rapidly growing popularity in that market segment makes offering anything in that department a smart move. “This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers,” Walgreens spokesman Brian Faith told CNBC.