The extract of cannabis — cannabidiol (CBD) — has taken the US market by storm with a sea of products available to consumers. Investors have taken notice, and the appetite for the growth of products from the cannabinoids component is apparent.
The rush for CBD products in the US is connected to the critical change for hemp and its derivatives in the country, thanks to the passing of the 2018 farm bill.
As a result of the farm bill, manufacturers, retailers and consumers have been emboldened to embrace the market opportunities of hemp-derived CBD.
Late in 2018, US President Donald Trump signed the farm bill into law, therefore removing hemp and its derivatives from its previous association to marijuana, including with marijuana’s ban at a federal level. This exemption included industrial hemp.
Hemp plants were removed from the illegality regulations, but why exactly is CBD so popular now with consumers? And why should investors pay attention to the evolution of this market?
In this guide, the Investing News Network (INN) explores the rush behind the investment boom for opportunities in the CBD market thanks to the changes for hemp.
CBD investment guide: Hemp rush sees market interest for cannabis players
A joint report from BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research indicated CBD sales are expected to surpass a total of US$20 billion in the US by 2024.
“Our growth forecast for the CBD market, across all distribution channels, predicts a compound annual growth rate of 49 percent by 2024,” Roy Bingham, co-founder and CEO of BDS Analytics, said in a statement.
In its report, the researchers highlighted that the success of CBD products will rely on education for patients, the type of dosing and a consistent label.
“CBD sales have exploded in the past several months, but there’s still a long way to go when it comes to consumer, retailer, and manufacturer knowledge,” Jessica Lukas, vice president of consumers insights with BDS Analytics, said in a statement.
The increased interest for CBD sales has led to rapid market expansion for multi-state operators (MSOs) in the US.
CBD investment guide: CBD vs THC
While CBD is often described as the non-psychoactive compound of the cannabis plant, experts agree the more accurate way to identify CBD is that it “lacks the intoxicating effects of THC,” according to a report co-authored by Charles Alovisetti, Courtney Barnes and Corey Cox with Vicente Sederberg LLP.
Hemp-derived CBD has gained the attention of the market by way of sales for various novelty products, such as hemp oil and other dietary supplement items.
THC, on the other hand, offers the actual high for cannabis products generally reserved for recreational use.
CBD investment guide: Farm bill opens gate to spread of CBD novelty products
This year the market has been energized thanks to the entry of national retailers looking to satisfy the craving for CBD products from consumers.
“We are carrying hemp-derived CBD products in select states to help meet consumer demand for alternative care options,” Mike DeAngelis, CVS Health spokesperson, told NBC News.
During a quarterly call with investors, Joseph Lusardi, CEO of Curaleaf Holdings (CSE:CURA,OTCQX:CURLF), said retailers were getting ready to meet the demand for CBD products thanks to the change in hemp regulation.
“Like many companies, we know there is consumer interest in CBD products, and the conversation is evolving quickly,” a Target spokesperson told the New York Post in May.
Barnes, an associate attorney at Vicente Sederberg, previously told INN the sales for CBD products in these retail spaces created a sense of ease for consumers wanting to try these items.
“The easier it is for you to be grocery shopping or in a retail outlet and have (hemp products) accessible at places you’re already going to is, I think, critical to expanding to consumption as well as education,” Barnes told INN during the MJBizConINT’L event in Toronto.
CBD investment guide: The FDA’s role
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has monitored the rise of the CBD market in the US as a variety of CBD novelty products — for uses such as health and wellness and recreational — have entered the market.
The federal regulator hasn’t shied away from issuing notices for any improper promises from CBD item manufacturers. In May, the agency issued a request for public comments for improved regulations of these items.
“Given the new interest in marketing cannabis products across a range of areas that the FDA regulates, we will need to carefully evaluate how all these pieces fit together in terms of how consumers might access cannabis products,” acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said during a hearing based on the public comments.
The FDA’s relationship with this emerging market is a complicated one. The research from the team at Vicente Sederberg indicates that, while the FDA is investigating potential changes to its regulations on CBD products, “the agency currently has jurisdiction over food, supplements, cosmetics and drugs containing CBD.”
The trio of lawyers stated there is no dismissing these warning letters. In their report, they wrote:
We have seen the FTC jointly send warning letters with the FDA to a number of CBD companies and ongoing litigation surrounding the marketing of CBD products demonstrates there is meaningful risk that false or misleading label claims can create a cause of action for fraudulent inducement.
In July, Curaleaf received a stern warning letter due to some misbranded products and unsubstantiated claims from the MSO about its CBD products.
The product notice was also accompanied by false claims made on elements of the company’s website, including the potential use of CBD hemp oil for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The company followed up by addressing the warnings from the federal regulator, but this case highlighted the careful branding needed for CBD products when it comes to medical benefit claims.
In August, the leading executive for one of the biggest publicly traded hemp producers said she was encouraged by a potential timeline of when the FDA may offer more clarity regarding regulations of hemp CBD.
“While the farm bill unlocked the door for category availability, the FDA now has the opportunity to expand availability of hemp CBD products across more distribution points to benefit more consumers,” Deanie Elsner, CEO of Charlotte’s Web Holdings (TSX:CWEB,OTCQX:CWBHF), said.
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CBD investment guide: Potential for treatment and improvement for patients
The expansion of medical marijuana and the variety of issues it helps treat, such as pain management and anxiety, has allowed for more experimentation with cannabis consumption and treatments.
While the industry is still in its early stages, there is enthusiasm for the acceptance of medical marijuana use for the treatment of disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease.
The potential for medicine based on cannabis received a boost thanks to the approval of epidiolex, a CBD drug, by the FDA.
Developed by GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH), epidiolex seeks to treat seizures related to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome in patients two years of age and older. The drug was approved after undergoing controlled clinical trials.
Earlier this year, the firm announced over 4,000 patients had completed enrolment forms for access to the drug after the first two months of sales for the cannabidiol oil product. State programs allow medical marijuana to become available to consumers with varying degrees of rules and standards on how to buy it.
Dr. Mark Lindholm, a chiropractic practitioner at Natural Health Family Chiropractic in Indiana, told INN he notices patients gain “side benefits” from starting to consume CBD, such as pain management, improved sleep and increased relaxation.
When asked about the reaction of patients who may get CBD recommended to them, Lindholm said he’s been surprised to see a vast majority of people reacting positively, instead of expressing skepticism.
Lindholm is also the author of “A Doctor’s Perspective on CBD Oil: Science, Success Stories, and Changed Lives,” in which he shares the benefits his practice has seen from the options granted to patients thanks to CBD products.
The book, however, still contains a health warning, stating the FDA has not evaluated the content of the publication.
CBD investment guide: Investor takeaway
CBD products have proven to be an appealing market for publicly traded companies looking to incorporate growth areas into their business plans.
While marijuana stocks have taken a few hits during the summer of 2019 — and the health troubles from vape-pen-related deaths have affected the interest in this market — CBD sales offer a glimpse at the increased interest for these products.
The health and wellness element of the market adds a novelty factor consumers are pursuing, while retailers aim to serve this need.
Want more details? Check out these articles for more INNdepth coverage.
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- Cannabis Extraction Execs Share Metrics for the Sector
Want an overview of investing in cannabis stocks? Check Investing in the Cannabis Industry
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Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.