We’ve written a lot about how popular CBD has become in recent years and even recent months. You can find it everywhere from dispensaries and drug stores, to gas stations, grocery stores, and doctor offices. People are using CBD to help conditions ranging from anxiety, stress, arthritis, back pain, concentration, seizures, PTSD, alcoholism, and much much more.
CBD product sales are expected to hit $5 billion this year, which is a 706% increase over 2018, according to the Brightfield Group, a cannabis-focused research firm. A market research study done by BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research projects that the collective market for CBD sales will surpass $20 billion by 2024 in the United States alone.
According to a Gallup poll released in 2019, 14% of Americans reported personally using CBD products. 50% reported not using it and 35% reported not being familiar with CBD at all. Although 14% of American adults may seem small, that is nearly 30 million people who say they use CBD. Of those, 40% of users reported utilizing CBD products for pain, 20% for anxiety, and 11% for sleep.
The question is, why has CBD taken the world by storm? How is this industry that barely existed even eight years ago now worth billions of dollars annually today? Why is CBD so popular?
Let’s Start with The History of CBD
Although it only hit the mainstream in the last few years, CBD has been around for quite a while. The first person who successfully extracted CBD from the cannabis sativa plant was a chemist named Roger Adams. However, when Adams first managed this in 1940, he wasn’t aware that he succeeded in extracting a chemical compound and didn’t even know what he had done. Years later, Adams and other scientists realized what he had done and started researching the possible benefits of CBD.
The modern history of the compound began a few years later in 1946, when Dr. Walter S Loewe conducted the first test of CBD on animals. These first tests were trying to discover what effect, if any, the substance had on animals.
Although they were expecting a similar psychoactive response akin to CBD’s cousin THC, these tests actually proved that CBD did not alter the mental state of the test subjects. Additional research continued into the 1960s when British pharmacologists created the first CBD oil meant for therapeutic use.
After this time, it gets a little hairy. With the war on drugs started in the 1970s and the federal classification of the marijuana plant as a Schedule One illicit substance, it became difficult for anyone, including doctors, researchers, and just about everyone else to get their hands on the plant. However, just as the federal government was tightening its grip, some states began to go their own way with regards to marijuana.
Modern Era of CBD Usage
Starting with Oregon, individual states began decriminalizing the plant and its usage. Decriminalization eased the common perception of marijuana as a dangerous or harmful substance to the point that California became the first state to legalize medical cannabis in 1996. Jumping back across the pond in 1998, British pharmaceutical groups began official medical trials for CBD to learn more about its effects and potential uses.
For marijuana as a whole, the journey culminated with Colorado and Washington flying in the face of federal law and becoming the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use in 2012. Since then, as of January 1st, 2020, there are 11 states where recreational use is legal and an additional 22 states where medical use is legal.
For much of its history, CBD has been tied to marijuana as a whole and, more specifically, beholden to the laws meant for its more flamboyant cousin, THC. However, some recent developments have helped CBD to be seen in its own light.
One of those developments was the Farm Bill that was signed into federal law in December of 2018. This law removed the hemp plant from the list of Schedule One federally controlled substances, legalizing the cultivation and sale of hemp at the federal level. It defines hemp as a cannabis plant containing less than a 0.3% concentration of THC.
Another development in the CBD industry was the World Health Organization publishing a report in which CBD was found to be generally well-tolerated, non-addictive, and safe. Both the shift in federal policy and this study by the WHO lend new credibility and opportunity to CBD companies across the country and across the world.
When Did CBD Come out of the Woodwork?
Although it has been around and been studied for the better part of 80 years, CBD only really came out of the woodwork in 2011 with Paige Fiji and her daughter Charlotte. In short, Charlotte was suffering from Dravet Syndrome and having so many violent epileptic seizures that she had to be on life support. Eventually, Charlotte, at only five years old, was only expected to live for additional few weeks or few months.
Not able to find any successful treatment options, Paige turned to CBD for her daughter. Once she was able to buy marijuana, extract CBD, and give it to her daughter, hundreds of seizures a week dropped to less than three a month after only 18 months of treatment. It is truly an incredible story and put CBD on the mainstream map for the first time.
Why Is CBD so Popular?
There are many theories as to why CBD has become so popular so quickly. These include everything from it being a celebrity fad to people seeking out any coping mechanism because we supposedly live in such volatile times. People who propagate this latter theory say that in such crazy times people are happy to be able to turn to a simple tincture to make it all better.
I’ll take a bit of a different opinion and say that CBD has become so popular—so popular that even celebrities report using it—because people truly feel it helps them achieve better overall health and wellness. The fact of the matter is, so many different people from all backgrounds, ages, walks of life, and who all have varying health issues, have all come out and said that CBD helps them.
According to Project CBD, extensive preclinical research has shown that CBD possesses powerful anti-tumoral, anti-oxidant, anti-spasmodic, anti-psychotic, anti-convulsive, and neuroprotective properties. It also has been shown to directly activate serotonin receptors, allowing it to help alleviate anxiety and giving CBD potential as an anti-anxiety treatment.
This has implications of CBD being a potential treatment for a variety of conditions, ranging from arthritis, diabetes, alcoholism, MS, chronic pain, schizophrenia, PTSD, depression, antibiotic-resistant infections, epilepsy, and other neurological disorders.
In other words, CBD is popular because it has such a large range of potential benefits. These possible applications, coupled with the fact that many of us are fed up with the pharmaceutical companies and the traditional approach to medicine, mean that we are looking for a better solution. We’re desperate to get off the opioids, antibiotics, and amphetamines that are constantly prescribed to us even when we might not need them.
People are looking for something that has the potential to be better than what we have become accustomed to. And that something may be CBD. That is why it’s popular and why the industry has seen such spectacular growth.