Back in 2016, The Hemp Business Journal predicted that the CBD market would be worth over $2 billion by 2020, in what would be a 700% increase. Matt Karnes of Greenwave Advisors was even more bullish and suggested that the market could be worth $3 billion by 2021.
Since then, a multitude of medical experts have hailed CBD as ‘the future of medicine’ as the hype surrounding the non-intoxicating marijuana compound intensifies. This new enthusiasm for cannabidiol is not unfounded either; an increasing number of studies are showing that it is potentially an excellent alternative to addictive painkillers. It doesn’t get you high, you shouldn’t fail a drug test when using it, and reported side effects are minimal.
What is CBD’s Current Legal Status?
The marijuana plant itself is now legal in 30 states plus Washington D.C. for medicinal or recreational purposes. However, it is federally illegal, so in theory, the government could decide to arrest everyone who sells or possesses weed. While this is unlikely to happen, one can never tell, especially when the Attorney General is so rabidly against cannabis.
CBD’s legal status is rather complex. On the one hand, it has been widely reported that it is legal in all 50 states as long as CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC and are from Industrial Hemp. On the other hand, it is derived from the marijuana plant, so it is federally illegal. However, CBD oils and other products normally come from industrial hemp, but hemp is also a variety of cannabis sativa! Congress is looking to legalize industrial hemp, but it is still technically illegal on a federal level right now.
As is the case with marijuana, you need to know your state and even your local laws. CBD is legal in the 30 states where cannabis is allowed, but you may need a medical marijuana card to use it in the 21 states where weed is only legal medicinally. There are several additional states with limited access laws, and the rules are changing so quickly that determining the exact legal status of CBD on any given day is next to impossible!
As recently as April 2018, Mamadou Ndiaye faced prison time in Indiana for possession of CBD oil. The law surrounding CBD in Idaho is about as clear as mud, while in Kansas, CBD oil was only exempted from the definition of marijuana in 2018. It is obvious that CBD’s growth will remain a little stunted until the whole legislative mess gets sorted out. If and when that happens, the sky’s the limit!
CBD in 2019 & Beyond
The CBD market will receive an enormous shot in the arm if the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 gets passed into law. This is a bill which proposes to finally remove hemp from the list of Schedule I controlled substances where it has resided since 1970. Remarkably, it was Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, a staunch Republican, who introduced the bill, called S.2667.
The aim is to remove low-THC cannabis from regulation, provide water rights and federal agricultural grants to farmers, and enable hemp growers and sellers to access the national banking system. The bill has immense support and is likely to be passed into law in November 2018 or thereabouts. The Hemp Farming Act will also remove the DEA from the picture and allow farmers to oversee hemp production.
Even with the murky legal issues and uncertainty over its future, the CBD market is thriving. Once it is freed from legal red tape, expect it to become one of the fastest growing markets on earth. Hemp farmers should get prepared to start planting as much hemp as possible because demand is going to escalate. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who want to try CBD but are afraid to do so over the fear of prosecution.
The industry has already been booming in the last few years. In 2016, there were 609 licensed hemp producers in the United States, and 16,377 acres were licensed for hemp cultivation. In 2017, there were 1,211 producers across 39,194 acres. North Dakota experienced a 600% rise in hemp producers, and with rapidly expanding hemp programs, the future looks bright for CBD oil.
A clear sign of how the industry is likely to grow can be seen in the activities of Hemp, Inc. one of the largest hemp producers and sellers in the United States. The organization is expecting to grow over 25,000 acres of industrial hemp in North Carolina alone in 2018. Hemp, Inc. has lofty goals. It has signed an agreement with HQ Global Education as part of its expansion strategy. Its goal is to become the #1 company in the industry, but it can expect stiff competition in what is set to become a billion-dollar market, most likely in 2019.
Assuming the Hemp Farming Act is passed into law, 2019 will be a huge year for CBD. There is a possibility that it could be properly classified and the market will finally go from an unregulated mess to one where products are correctly labeled and sold. If this happens, perhaps huge retailers such as Whole Foods and Target will begin selling CBD products as supplements. If this happens, there is no telling how big the CBD market could become.
Big Pharma Interference is Almost Certain
Consumers use CBD products for health reasons. It is hoped that cannabidiol can help relieve symptoms of medical conditions including chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. Obviously, the growth of the market is bad news for Big Pharma, who are not going to stand idly by when there is money to be made.
In a classic ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ move, major pharmaceutical companies are getting in on the CBD craze. In June 2018, GW Pharmaceuticals’ drug, Epidiolex, became the first marijuana-based drug to win FDA approval. Now that GW has a foothold in the industry, we fully expect it to put pressure on the FDA to make moves against the CBD supplement industry.
As things stand, hemp suppliers can sell CBD for a fraction of the cost of Epidiolex, so why would anyone purchase the expensive drug, which isn’t even the real thing, when you can buy proper CBD legally and save money? Once the Hemp Farming Act is passed, the FDA will probably begin to act against online retailers and storefronts that don’t follow specific labeling rules.
This is potentially a good thing, because it would prevent companies from selling low-grade products, or CBD oil with too much THC. Remember, it is currently an unregulated industry so unless you buy your CBD products from reputable organizations, there is no telling what you’re putting into your body. Don’t purchase any CBD products that are not accompanied by third-party lab reports.
Overall, the future should be bright for the CBD industry. By 2019, industrial hemp will be legal for sale and possession so there will be no danger of federal intervention. This means you can freely purchase CBD products made from industrial hemp anywhere in the United States. The big danger predictably comes in the form of Big Pharma. Will it successfully ‘persuade’ the FDA to outlaw the majority of CBD sellers and pave the way for market domination with its synthesized drugs?