Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-inebriating component of cannabis (including hemp) that has been gaining attention in consumer-packaged goods over the past few years. Its benefits range from helping consumers with chronic pain, sleep issues, and mood problems like anxiety and depression, to everyday wellness and health maintenance objectives like workout recovery and neuroprotection.
The CBD market is growing fast, with sales of nearly $25 billion expected worldwide by 2025 according to Grandview Research.
However, CBD is not just another ingredient. Due to its association with cannabis, its arrival on the market has been accompanied by still-incomplete regulatory evolution. While CBD from hemp in particular is legal in most markets, the regulatory landscape detailing how it can be included in food and beverage is a patchwork of sometimes contradictory and opaque rules – even in big markets like the US and Europe. Regulators have been moving sluggishly in their attempts to clarify matters, yet many brands have been rushing full speed ahead.
In this environment there has been an unfortunate profusion of poor-quality products. Studies in the US have found that many CBD products contain less CBD than their labels state, and sometimes none at all, while others contain elevated levels of THC (the compound in cannabis that gets you ‘high’, capped at 0.3 percent in the US and 0.2 percent in Europe). Some have even been found to contain dangerous synthetic cannabinoids.
So how can brands enter the CBD market responsibly, balancing consumers’ desire for this new compound with their fears that your product might be snake oil?