Hemp is a variety of cannabis that’s famous for its versatility, and it’s been moving more into the mainstream in the past few years. And for a product that has only been legal for slightly over a year, hemp is carving out quite the market for itself. While the plant material itself has a plethora of uses, ranging from construction, plastics and nutrition, most of the demand for hemp can be traced back to a hemp extract called cannabidiol (CBD).
The chemical is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced by hemp, and according to anecdotal evidence and some scientific research, it is a potent and versatile natural medicine. Shortly after the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp and its extracts, the market for CBD boomed. The sector is already worth millions of dollars in sales, and experts say it will hit $20 billion by 2024.
The state of Texas passed a bill that legalized hemp last year, and the law has attracted a plethora of new CBD sellers in its wake. “You go anywhere now, and you find something that says CBD on it,” says Sarah Kerver, one of the many CBD sellers in Texas. However, she was in the game long before most of her competitors, trying to push hemp and CBD products in Texas for a Colorado-based company.
“No one wanted to touch CBD. No one wanted to talk about it. No one was interested in carrying this product in any sort of spa or retail space,” she says. However, that changed with the Farm Bill and the accompanying state law on hemp. Now, you can find cannabidiol products everywhere. There are tons of stores selling everything from tinctures to topicals, not to mention CBD mixed in with smoothies and coffee.
Kerver launched her CBD product line, 1937 Apothecary before the state legalized hemp under a pilot program started by the 2014 Farm Bill, and she says there’s a lot more buzz around CBD now that it’s legal in the state. “There’s been more media around it since Texas has come on board, definitely. Texans are becoming more educated about it and much more open to it,” she says.
CBD is said to be effective against a variety of medical conditions, ranging from chronic pain and high blood pressure to insomnia and anxiety. However, since hemp had been banned for decades, most of these claims haven’t been scientifically proven, and most of the evidence is anecdotal.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent warning letters to several CBD companies accused of making unproven medical claims on their products. Sellers who want to stay out of the agency’s radar have had to play it safe, Kerver explains.
“That’s where we walk the fine line. We can’t say anything, but luckily we’ve been in business long enough to go,’ I’ve got 19 customers, they all use this for sleep, and they’re all coming back for it for sleep, and they buy it every month for sleep, and they’re really happy with it.'”
It would be interesting to learn what clever ways established industry actors like Willow Biosciences Inc. (TSX: WLLW) (OTCQB: CANSF) to attract customers without attracting unwanted regulatory attention.
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