Is The CBD Industry Growing? What Are CBD’s Prospects In The UK?
Did you ever expect that searches for CBD on the Internet would surpass those for Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé or veganism? It would seem that 2019 was the year when everyone was asking questions and researching CBD.
While this trend has been growing strong since 2017, it has been increasing exponentially as CBD becomes widely available and people get familiarised with it. But what does it mean for the British CBD market?
How big is the UK CBD market?
To understand the current CBD market in the UK, we can take a look at who are the UK consumers. A recent report of the UK CBD market by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) estimated there are six million people who have taken CBD in the UK in the past year. Younger people are trying CBD more than elder ones and women are experimenting more with CBD than men.
Oils, tinctures, and capsules are the most common CBD products consumers choose. However, as the market expands into ever more products, consumers are bound to try CBD-containing products in all shapes and sizes.
Does CBD work?
This is the question most people ask. Despite all the interest in CBD, most evidence remains anecdotal. This leads to the two main problems facing the British CBD market. The first concerns a lack of regulation and testing. The second concerns the lack of conclusive scientific studies.
Is CBD legal?
While you can legally purchase CBD as a food supplement, the market suffers from a lack of proper regulation and testing of the CBD products that have hit the market in the past years.
The CMC report blind-tested 30 CBD products.
One of them did not contain any discernible CBD. Another contained THC, which is illegal in the UK.
Intentional or unintentional mislabelling is a big problem: manufacturers may not be testing their products to the highest standards or they may be turning a blind eye to variations in CBD content. Also, some carrier oils and other ingredients in CBD products are often not labelled properly or are even omitted completely.
In any case, the lack of regulation and monitoring means that producers and manufacturers only depend on their good name to convince the public of the quality and purity of their products.
Are there any scientific studies proving that CBD works?
Because of CBD’s illegal status until late 2018, relatively few CBD studies have been conducted so far. While researchers are working furiously to rectify this, there is as yet little clear and definitive scientific proof that CBD actually works.
Only two CBD-based drugs have been approved for NHS use in the UK, Epidyolex and Sativex. Epidyolex is used to treat certain types of epilepsy. Sativex is a mouth spray that contains a mix of THC and CBD. Multiple sclerosis sufferers use it to treat muscle stiffness and spasms, known as spasticity.
CBD’s other health claims are drawn or inferred from small clinical trials and anecdotal evidence. This is the reason why CBD producers in the UK are not allowed to make any health claims. They may only state that CBD may help alleviate a condition, but they may not allege it can heal it.
There are a lot of studies underway, especially since CBD has been legalised across the world and consumers and patients are demanding more certainty regarding the potential benefits of CBD use. In the absence of conclusive clinical trials, however, the limitations to the claims CBD products can make are here to stay.
What are the prospects for CBD’s future?
Even though CBD has been legal for a little over a year, certain trends have already emerged, allowing us to discern the prospects for CBD’s future.
New CBD-containing products are constantly hitting the market. Current trends show that certain market segments will see the highest growth, including beverages.
CBD-infused waters have already become quite popular and more beverage companies are investing in them. While their CBD content is usually too little to have any effect, people turning away from sugary fizzy drinks consider it a healthier option. They prefer beverages that don’t burden their health and may even offer some health benefits.
Experts expect the CBD-infused trend to move to teas, coffees, and sparkling water. Further away in the future, consumers could also see CBD-infused beer and wine. CBD consumed via any beverage is an easy, inconspicuous, and trouble-free way of taking CBD throughout the day.
Will CBD enter our diet?
The CBD products market is currently dominated by small and medium companies that have invested in CBD-containing products. However, big food players are slowly moving in the CBD market, looking to carve out a slice of this growing market.
It is difficult to see how large companies will choose to ignore this market, leaving high-profit margins to smaller competitors. Pointedly, while Coca Cola denied any plans to produce CBD-infused Coca-Cola, its top marketing expert also said, ‘never say never.’
Should bigger food producers enter the CBD market, consumers will get wider choices across a bigger range of products. Furthermore, such moves would make CBD more mainstream and more acceptable as an ingredient.
Is CBD good for pets?
Our furry friends are bound to get more CBD products exclusively available to them.
Although research on CBD for pets is even more sporadic and scanty than for humans, many pet owners choose to give their pets CBD for various ailments and conditions.
Just like the overall pet market is growing, its CBD segment is growing even more, making manufacturers interested in investing in CBD products for pets.
While the CBD oil used for pet and human products is the same, certain additives used in human products are harmful to animals. For example, grapeseed oil and xylitol are often found in human CBD oil products but are dangerous for dogs. Also, some human CBD products have flavourings which can be harmful to animals.
Expect to see more CBD products aimed specifically at pets in the near future.
Who monitors CBD producers?
Reputable CBD brands are trying to bypass the dearth of regulations and monitoring by self-regulation and self-monitoring of their products.
Some UK CBD manufacturers and producers have joined the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) in setting industry-wide standards and testing methods. By adhering to these standards, CBD manufacturers will manage to prove beyond doubt the purity of their products, thus alleviating any doubts consumers may have.
The CMC has set up a charter setting the commitments for members. Such pledges involve the testing of CBD products by reputable and accredited testing labs, proper labelling, and restraint from making yet unproven health claims.
The accredited testing labs have similar machines and equipment. They have also agreed to a set of testing standards regarding the accepted levels of CBD and THC in the products. Therefore, there will be no doubts or ambiguities when test results are published.
It is ultimately the state’s role to organize the CBD industry. But until the British Food Standards Agency sets up its regulatory and monitoring system, the CBD industry is attempting to sort the wheat from the chaff on its own.
Is CBD legal in the EU?
Across the Channel, the European Union is formulating standards and regulations for European CBD products including their production and sale.
The EU has now classified CBD as a ‘novel’ food. The setting of regulations is still ongoing but it is estimated that it will cover the whole CBD foodstuff market.
Even after Brexit, UK CBD producers will need to export their products. This means adhering to European standards and regulations, or risking staying out of the European CBD market.
What does CBD’s growth mean for you?
As the CBD market expands, people will become more aware of it. They are also bound to familiarise themselves with CBD products, as friends, colleagues or relatives mention it. Slowly, they will ask questions, look around and demand information. It is inevitable that society as a whole will follow suit and start responding to these queries.
CBD’s growth has strong implications for a variety of professions.
Doctors and GPs are the first to be affected. Doctors and GPs cannot make claims regarding the potential benefits of CBD. But patients will increasingly ask questions and demand answers. Can you die from vaping CBD? What is the right CBD dosage? Do CBD topical creams work? Do CBD patches work? What are CBD’s side-effects? Does CBD interact with other medicines?
These are just some of the issues people are concerned about. It is ultimately far better for CBD users to have discussed with their doctor the possibility of taking CBD, rather than taking it on their own and self-medicating according to what they read on the Internet.
The same goes for veterinarians. As more pet owners learn about CBD, they will want to try it on their pets. But how much CBD should you give your dog? Asking your vet first is a good instinct and vets should be up-to-date and properly informed about CBD.
Eventually, chemists and pharmacists should also have knowledge regarding the CBD world, so that they can better inform the public.
Unless hindered by new legislation, it appears inevitable that the CBD market will continue to grow, not just in the UK but worldwide.
If you wish to join the trend, check with your doctor first and mention any existing preconditions such as glaucoma, along with any medication you may be taking. And if you’re wondering how to tell which CBD source is reputable, find out how to buy your CBD from a reputable source in our handy guide.