Within the past five years, we’ve seen the cannabidiol (CBD) industry explode. What’s been dubbed the “CBD craze” has everyone and their grandmother talking about the all-natural benefits this cannabinoid has brought them. With that, we’ve also seen a slew of innovative and effective products enter the marketspace.
CBD and cannabis as a whole are only going to continue to grow. Some projections are predicting sales can hit $23.7 billion by 2023. But what direction is this industry heading?
We recently spoke to a number of CBD CEOs and other top-industry insiders to get their take on the future of this industry. This is what they had to say.
Regulations and Legitimacy
One of the biggest downsides of starting a business in this industry is the fact that it’s so unregulated. There are a number of steps a company has to take in order to garner trust from their consumers – whether it’s holding a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) or being completely transparent about their resourcing and manufacturing process. And even still, many out there still aren’t 100% certain about the safety of CBD.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Martin A. Sumichrast and Scott R. Coffman, members of cbdMD’s board of directors, wrote in a joint email. “The federal legalization of hemp in the United States was a major step, but legitimacy in the eyes of consumers and regulators will require our best efforts. There’s a reason so many journalists refer to the cannabinoid industry as ‘the Wild West.’”
This “Wild West” allowed illegitimate companies to enter the marketplace. Most of these simply sell cheap CBD that’s usually imported from other countries. In one FDA report, it was found that a large number of these companies lied about the CBD concentration in these products.
In turn, many consumers end up purchasing ineffective products which can have a number of consequences for the industry as a whole.
“We foresee a time when regulatory frameworks and a natural cull of less-than-honest companies creates a more stable, trustworthy industry that benefits everyone, especially consumers,” Sumichrast and Coffman said.
While regulations will come with difficulties for entrepreneurs (i.e. fees and licenses), they’ll also legitimize this industry. Seeing an FDA-approved badge on a product is likely to make a customer feel more secure in the medication they’re purchasing. In turn, this will only drive sales upwards.
“The industry has barely scratched the surface,” Dareh Zadoorian, CEO of Cheef Botanicals, noted. He continued:
“The industry should eventually be as large as the liquor, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries. We expect regulations to increase and there to be more control over the products manufactured. We expect the FDA to eventually become involved in what can/cannot be produced and sold. The future looks promising for the industry to grow exponentially.”
Unfortunately, that growth is ultimately determined by lawmakers and regulators. While we’re going to have to wait around for them to finally act on CBD, there’s still a lot entrepreneurs can do to help further legitimize this industry.
The Power Doesn’t Just Lie in CBD
Beyond CBD, we’re starting to see a lot of popularity with other cannabinoids, such as cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabidolic acid (CBDA). These cannabinoids are often mixed and matched in order to promote wellness for particular ailments.
“I think the future of cannabis, hemp, whatever you wanna call it, is in the cannabinoid-terpene cocktail,” Joe Pimental, co-owner of Luce Farm, explained. “I don’t think any one isolate or any one cannabinoid is going to have longevity.”
“My gut tells me the longevity in this space is you’re going to have different cocktails – CBG paired with CBD, CBD paired with this terpene and that terpene,” Pimental said.
And that would allow highly customizable products, too, he told us:
“I think everybody’s different – like, every body. I think different cannabinoids paired with different terpenes are going to work differently for a lot of people.”
We’ve already seen companies develop concoctions of herbs, botanicals, and cannabinoids to further promote wellness for certain health conditions.
For example, you’ve probably come across CBD sleep products that incorporate melatonin and cannabinol (CBN) to further promote rest. Or CBD topicals that use menthol in order to initially relieve muscle and joint pains before CBD has time to work itself through the skin.
As we learn more about the nature of CBD, we’ll also gain the knowledge of how to use it alongside these other ingredients.
With that, it’s likely we’re going to continue seeing extremely innovative products hit the marketplace.
Todd Smith, co-founder and chief partnership officer of Joy Organics, believes CBD will become the top-selling dietary supplement in the next decade:
“As all this research comes out on everything from depression to PTSD to seizures – I mean, you can type in any health concern that you’ve ever heard about into Google along with CBD and there are testimonials from people who are seeing relief,” he said. “Hundreds and hundreds of health concerns are being addressed by CBD.”
Smith said CBD could become as ubiquitous as Vitamin C. “I see it in ten years, every multivitamin having CBD in it in addition to all those vitamins that are in those daily supplements.”
Industry’s CEOs Say CBD is Here for the Long Haul
There’s no denying that the CEOs we interviewed are optimistic about the future of the CBD and cannabis industries. Cannabinoids already display so much potential and we’re still learning about them.
“[The industry] is still in its infancy,” Ken Lawson, CEO of FOCL, said. He used one newer cannabinoid as an example of the potential for expansion:
“The average consumer has no idea what CBN is. But you are starting to see it pop up more in products. So, I think it is growing and I think it will continue to grow as there are more education and awareness around it.”
While it’s too early to tell exactly how things are going to play out, many get the hunch that the all-natural health industries have the ability to beat out big pharma.
“I honestly think that the pharmaceutical world is scared by it because I think that CBD is going to have a much more substantial impact on the health and wellness industry,” Beau Schmitt, a co-founder of Sunday Scaries, said. “All the research is still in the process, so, there are no definitive health claims that companies can make.”
Despite that uncertainty, Schmitt also believes CBD has a strong future. “I think it’ll be a mainstay and all that will happen going forward is different products are going to come out in different niche ways to help with certain ailments.”
Paul James is a seasoned cannabis and CBD writer and expert. He is a mental health blogger who advocates CBD as a natural alternative to prescription medications. You can read more about this and other natural alternatives on his blog: https://bedlamite.co/."