Three Major Trends Poised to Dominate the CBD Market
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Virtually all Americans now live in states where access to CBD has expanded. Throughout 2019, CBD products were able to transition away from mostly touting anecdotal evidence (despite some pivotal clinical studies) as a flurry of new research findings revealed some encouraging results.
Medical professionals and regulators alike have taken notice, and the market is booming, on track to balloon by $23.7 billion through 2023. The wide appeal of CBD products to dog owners, geriatric folk and young, health-conscious people alike has underscored a surge in new products and exploratory efforts to squeeze the most out of cannabis’s second-favorite cannabinoid.
Such endeavors are poised to set the tone in the broader cannabis industry for the next decade. Here are three of the latest CBD trends to keep your eye on.
Consolidation and verticalization
Emerging markets typically start out highly fragmented and decentralized. Startups compete with each other to absorb the most market share. They tinker with products, business models and research to gain whatever edge they can. However, markets do not remain this way.
As a handful of firms emerge among the competition, industries begin to consolidate, no matter the market. The cycle is the same for Internet giants, information empires (e.g. radio, TV) and commodities like the old days of Standard Oil and Carnegie Steel. And in the CBD market, not only is that path sure to crystallize throughout the 2020s, but it’s already taking shape.
Vertically integrated business models are already lapping up customers. Models like Growpacker enable brands to go from concept to dispensary shelf with minimal overhead costs. Boutique brands can tap Growpacker’s network to craft unique products like CBD pre-rolls and CBD-infused balms for pain relief. In the age of the internet, where drop shipping is exceptionally popular and e-commerce brands are exploding, systems like Growpacker’s are poised to absorb large portions of the market.
Such consolidation of the CBD and cannabis industry is likely also favored by federal agencies. For example, the federal government can better monitor the industry for detrimental components if the market is consolidated in the hands of a few. In particular, the FDA’s recent announcement on ENDS products, although explicitly referencing tobacco, underscores its concerns with the sourcing of vaping oils from manufacturers and suppliers not pre-approved by the agency.
More pertinent to CBD products, the FDA is set to crack down on false advertising and products that target minors, including minimizing “weed washing.” A more vertically integrated CBD and cannabis market can help mitigate unverified suppliers as supply pipelines are controlled from end-to-end and not subject to the fragmentation that can mask problems.
The widescale introduction of CBD medical products
Early research results and anecdotal evidence of the medical benefits of CBD are compelling. So much so that it is the spark that ignited the entire market boom we’re currently experiencing. So far, the industry is peppered with boutique offerings of tinctures, vape pens and more, many of which are specious.
Doses for CBD products are still being ironed out, but the opportunity for significant medical breakthroughs is palpable. And you can bet the companies that rake in profits from treating medical ailments, i.e. big pharma, are not going to sit on the sideline for long.
Exploratory research into the neuroprotective properties of CBD is also already underway. Results are limited so far, but there is optimism from early clinical studies for a field of research brimming with enthusiasm. “Our findings suggest that cannabidiol might reduce seizure frequency and might have an adequate safety profile in children and young adults with highly treatment-resistant epilepsy,” concluded one study conducted in 2016. “Randomised controlled trials are warranted to characterise the safety profile and true efficacy of this compound.”
Perhaps the ultimate goal for the 2020s concerning neuroprotective outcomes using CBD is with Alzheimer’s. A clinical study from 2017 indicated that CBD may reduce the rate of brain inflammation that accelerates a degeneracy into full-blown Alzheimer’s. “The studies reviewed in this mini-review provide ‘proof of principle’ for the therapeutic benefits CBD and possibly CBD-THC combinations pose for AD therapy,” details the same paper.
And, notably, it outlines the further investigation of CBD for Alzheimer’s, stating, "Further dose-dependent investigations into transgenic mouse models of AD are necessary to understand the full potential and the long-term effects of CBD.”
Medical breakthroughs are often born from tinkering, which can produce accidental discoveries. As technology bolsters the quantity that researchers can analyze in shorter time frames, expect the next decade to be a boon for CBD and broader cannabis research/clinical space as the public sheds its longstanding perceptions of the marijuana plant.
A buffet of oddities and potent products
Strains of marijuana circa the 1970s were much different than what populates the dispensaries of California and Colorado et al today. Namely, it was much less potent, not as diverse and didn’t come repurposed as an array strange and wonderful products. And you can expect the trend of veritable buffets of CBD products to explode throughout the next decade.
Some peculiar items already hitting the shelves include multivitamins infused with CBD, CBD superfoods like Kale protein chips and, naturally, CBD-infused craft beer. Other products typically found at spas include CBD facials, while outlets like CBD activewear top the list of oddities.
Many of these straddle a fine line that the federal government is sure to broaden as its regulatory microscopes focus on the CBD market. But it appears that as long as advertising does not mislead the public or cater to minors (not terribly difficult requirements), the CBD oddities that you’re looking forward to should remain on the shelves.
Who knows? By 2030, injections of CBD multivitamins before you walk to Elon Musk’s Hyperloop in your CBD activewear for a ride to work may become the norm. The CBD mania that seized America’s attention in the late 2010s is crystallizing into a legitimate and booming industry before our eyes. There will be all kinds of tinkering and surprises along the way, but one thing is evident: CBD is here to stay.