Op-ed: Is CBD Poised to Outsell THC in the Coming Years?

    CBD vs THC
    CBD vs. THC in the marketplace

    Widespread cannabis legalization is still very new. Curious, would-be consumers with little-to-no previous experience or desire to “get high” are still apprehensive about the newcomer to the adult-use market. Casual cocktails with close friends and colleagues on evenings and weekends have been infiltrated by a sneaky little plant which can cause outbreaks of laughter or introspection to intervene where the ebb and flow of the gathering used to operate almost like clockwork.

    “What’s it all about?”

    “What if I get a little too stoned?”

    “Aren’t the medicinal and wellness claims a little overblown?”

    Much of the apprehension stems from the still-lingering stigma surrounding the consumption of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the primary psychoactive compound present in cannabis.

    Enter Cannabidiol (CBD), THC’s less-threatening and non-psychoactive companion, which has been recently popularized due to its potential therapeutic benefits which can be accessed without the user “getting high” in the process.

    The hype surrounding CBD is exploding! It can be found in edibles, beverages, pet care, salves and more..More…MORE!

    Consumer preferences are changing all the time and, as a result, a recently published white paper by BDS Analytics titled “The Global Cannabinoids Market: Will CBD Overtake THC?” takes a look at the booming CBD marketplace to analyze the shifting climate.

    So, will THC products start to lose market share to CBD? It’s an interesting question; one which I’ve been thinking a lot about lately.

    Even within the circle of those closest to me, I’ve noticed a marked shift in cannabinoid consumption which skews toward CBD over THC. I, myself, have taken to vaping cannabidiol as a means of dealing with back pain in lieu of taking opioids. Whether the results are psychological or pharmacological, I’m happy with my choice.

    I’ve seen others around me partaking in CBD in various forms (vaping, salves, topicals, pre-rolls) to aid in battling anxiety, insomnia, depression, pain relief, and general mood enhancement. I’ve even noticed a number of people transitioning from smoking strains with higher levels of THC to those with a higher percentage of CBD…sometimes with virtually no THC content…simply to enjoy the act of smoking a joint. Like I said, I find it all very interesting.

    The BDS Analytics white paper utilizes figures based on consumption in the United States and estimates that CBD sales could bring in $20 billion by 2024 (compared to $1.9 billion in 2018!), with an increasing percentage from food, beverages and confections. The study also projects a decreasing percentage being brought in from beauty/skincare and pet care.

    Based upon the explosion of current consumer habits in recent years, the projected growth in the next 5 years is massive and certainly worth paying attention to. It represents the upward CBD versus THC purchasing trends taking place not only in dispensaries, but in businesses clamouring to get CBD infused products to  general retail markets as well.

    In 2018, CBD sales via dispensaries attributed to over 10 percent of overall dollars. That number represents a 3 percent jump compared to dispensary sales in 2017, and sales from this year continue to trend increasingly upward as awareness and demand expands.

    But who’s buying CBD? The demographic breakdown shows some surprising insights – surprising to me, anyway.

    As a man in my 40s, I generally assume that cannabis purchasing power is led by individuals younger than myself. However, the BDS white paper points out that the average age for CBD consumers is 43 years of age. It makes a lot of sense, given that the “older” crowd – of which I begrudgingly accept that I am a part of – may be becoming increasingly cannabis curious, but not necessarily looking to feel “high.”

    Other notable statistics attributed to the consumption of CBD in the US include the following:

    The numbers which I found most interesting involved the high percentages of adults who don’t understand the difference between CBD versus THC, and are confused about the effects of hemp-derived products. As is the case with most schisms in understanding, the issue comes down to education…or the lack thereof.

    Again, the presented numbers are based on US statistics, but as a Canadian citizen I feel as though the percentages would be equally high.

    Thankfully, we live in a time where individuals are comfortable asking questions about cannabis. Gone are the “Reefer Madness” days when cannabinoids were ubiquitously vilified and looked upon with immediate disdain, but there’s always more that can be done to educate people. As more states move toward the legalization of cannabis, we’re bound to see an increase in the number of outlets which people can turn to for fact-based information about the over 100 cannabinoid compounds and their effects. We’re making baby steps every day, but it’s a promising start considering how new the idea of cannabis legalization truly is.

    Back to the question at hand: Will CBD overtake THC?

    Personally, I think it will.

    The projections noted in the white paper released by BDS Analytics are just that…projections. That being said, it’s impossible to ignore the intrigue and marketability of CBD over THC. Companies looking to capitalize on the compound’s non-psychoactive properties by adding it to already popular products in general retail markets are poised to make a lot of money in the coming years. That, coupled with CBD’s less imposing nature – compared to that of THC – for curious consumers looking to broaden their knowledge of cannabis, seems to point to a continued – and rapid – expansion into the marketplace.

    Whatever the case may be, I think that anything which helps the general populace gain knowledge about cannabis and its myriad uses is a step in the right direction.

    What do you think? CBD or THC? Feel free to contact us with your thoughts via [email protected]. This article references a report published by BDS Analytics who offer a number of great free resources here: https://bdsanalytics.com/resources/

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    Connor Lovat-Fraser
    Connor is the Editor-In-Chief for Puff Digital and has been cultivating the written word for over twenty years. His background in music and entertainment landed his band “Boys Night Out” a Juno nomination in 2003, and the group’s 2007 concept album “Trainwreck” went on to garner a great deal of critical acclaim and inspire a theatre production of the same name.