If you’re asking yourself who’s buying CBD products, just take a stroll to your local grocery store and mosey over to the vitamins and supplements section.
Prepare to be overwhelmed by the thousands of nutraceutical “wellness” products filling the shelves – everything from melatonin chocolates for sleep-aid to echinacea for immune support – and yes, very recently products containing the compound that’s outshined Beyonce in popularity, CBD. Each year, shoppers spend billions on these items. Now that CBD has a place on these shelves, and it’s looking like it’s going to stay that way given that the leading trade association for nutraceutical products, AHPA, is hosting a CBD-tailored event in Denver later this month.
Regarding unregulated wellness products and the Food and Drug Administration, there’s been a long-standing issue concerning claims being made, a reality the cannabinoid-infused industry must reckon with. We’ve seen some of the largest hemp market companies be warned by the FDA, Charlotte’s Web Botanicals in 2017 and in recent weeks Curaleaf. It’s a clear message and one every supplement and vitamin product at Whole Foods, Natural Grocers, Kroger or elsewhere has to abide by: you can’t claim these products are “intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.”
With an industry less than five years old, shoppers must confront that poor-quality, misrepresented CBD products are out there. It’s no surprise that in an industry that could hit $20 billion by 2024, bandwagon jumpers will try to make a quick buck.
With that in mind, where you shop for CBD makes a big difference. You don’t expect to find the same products at 7/11 and Whole Foods. If you’re the kind of shopper who loves to do research on your own, by all means, navigate the market unaccompanied. For those of us who don’t have the time (or the interest) to dive into the weeds alone, there are emerging retailers taking the snake oil out of the equation.
Take ehemp.com, a forthcoming marketplace for hemp-based products. They sought guidance from the leading cannabusiness law firm, Hoban Law Group, in establishing a rigorous vetting process to ensure CBD-containing products sold on the site abide by existing federal guidelines for natural products. President of ehemp, Jessica Lesesky, stresses the point, “We want to be a legitimizing force. That’s why we make a commitment to our shoppers that what’s on the label is actually inside the bottle.”
Despite the challenges, she’s highly optimistic: “From what I’ve seen, this is a like-minded community of businesses,” she says, “The majority are focused on people over profit. I’ve heard all the pitches in retail and e-commerce. What struck me was how different the conversations were when I entered the hemp space. These companies are purpose-driven and the discussion always starts with the ‘Why.’ Whether they have a touching personal story or they genuinely find joy in helping people, there’s a mentality of ‘a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats’ and a collective goal to protect consumers from bad actors.”
So who’s buying CBD and why?
Founder of 101CBD.org, Justin Benton, says this of the majority of his CBD customers, “These are members of the baby boomer generation and retirees who have tried many products – regulated medications and wellness alternatives – but found little to no relief. If there’s something out there that can help them, they deserve access. We follow up with our customers on how our Raw CBD product treated their body and the responses we get indicate we’re on the right path. We’re flooded with feedback from our repeat customers that we’re providing something that works for them. To us, that’s what this is all about. Our clients are realizing that they don’t have to live like this anymore.”
CBD customers are you, your neighbors, your friends, your family – everyone dealing with mounting health challenges and physical and emotional stressors. Give informed consumers a choice and they’ll start to exercise it. At the end of the day, hemp has been hanging out on Mother Earth for thousands of years. Some of us are simply choosing to heal.