Do you have questions about CBD?
You’re not alone! We’ve received many questions about CBD — its benefits, uses, products, etc — and have answered the most common of these below.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol (pronounced ca-nuh-bi-DYE-ol). It is one of over 80 chemical compounds (called cannabinoids) found within the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. Unlike THC — the chemical in marijuana that causes a “high” — CBD is non-psychoactive.
While the FDA is still researching the potential uses of CBD, some people claim that CBD products have a wide variety of medical and therapeutic benefits.** So far, scientific research has found that CBD can help to treat two types of seizure disorders in children, in a medication called Epidiolex that has been approved by the FDA.
Scientists are also studying whether CBD might be effective in treating other conditions, including anxiety, sleep, pain, and drug and alcohol use disorders (source). But the scientific research on CBD is still evolving.
In the meantime, consumers have been very interested in purchasing CBD for personal use. Sales growth has exploded for CBD products such as oils, lotions, gummy candy, and more. The industry is conservatively projected to hit $16 billion in the United States by 2025 (source).
Is CBD Legal?
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to sell hemp and hemp products in the United States. Therefore, CBD which is derived from hemp is legal to sell across the United States.
It is important to note, that CBD is contained within both hemp as well as within marijuana. Hemp are marijuana are two varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant, and there are some important differences between hemp and marijuana (see chart below).
|Botanical Name||Cannabis sativa||Cannabis sativa|
|THC Threshold||No more than 0.3% delta-9 THC on a dry weight basis (THC is one of the leading psychoactive cannabinoids in cannabis)||No THC threshold specified|
|Primary Federal Agencies With Regulatory Oversight||USDA; FDA||DEA; FDA|
|Plant Part Used||Fiber, seed, and flower||Flower|
|Types Of Products||Food and food ingredient; ingredient for body products, cosmetics, dietary supplements and therapeutic products; textiles and fabrics; other manufactured and industrial products||Recreational and medicinal products|
|Plant Height At Harvest||10-15 feet (fiber), 6-9 feet (seed), 4-8 feet (flower)||4-8 feet (flower)|
While the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to sell hemp and hemp products in the United States, it did not legalize marijuana or products derived from marijuana. (Note: The CBD Guide provides information only about legal, hemp-derived CBD products which contain less than 0.3% THC.)
One other “wrinkle”: although the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to sell hemp-derived CBD, it may not be included in products marketed with therapeutic claims, and it may not be marketed by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement. Hemp-derived CBD may only be included in “cosmetic” products, and only if it contains less than 0.3% THC (source).
What Are The Benefits Of CBD?
This is a bit of a “loaded” question, since CBD cannot be included in products marketed with therapeutic claims; and in any case, the scientific research on CBD is still in early stages.
So, before we answer any questions regarding the benefits of CBD, we need to state our FDA Disclosure:
Statements regarding the efficacy and safety of CBD products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Given the above, we believe the best way to answer this question is to report what CBD consumers themselves say.
In a 2019 Gallup Survey, 14% of U.S. adults reported using CBD products, while 50% do not use them, and 35% are not at all familiar with them (and presumably did not use them).
The CBD users in the Gallup poll cited pain relief (40%), anxiety (20%), insomnia (11%), arthritis (8%), migraines/headaches (5%), and stress (5%) as the top six purposes for their CBD use.
Here’s a more extensive list of the purposes cited in the poll, along with the percentage of respondents who cited each as their top reason for CBD use:
- Pain relief (40%)
- Anxiety (20%)
- Sleep or insomnia (11%)
- Arthritis (8%)
- Migraines or headaches (5%)
- Stress (5%)
- Muscle spasms or soreness (4%)
- General health (4%)
- Mental health, PTSD, ADHD, or neurological disorders (4%)
- Recreational (4%)
- Depression (2%)
- Skin care (2%)
- For their pet (1%)
- Gastrointestinal or digestive issues (1%)
- Inflammation (1%)
Let’s turn to another unofficial “poll”: that of user search data, courtesy of Google’s auto-suggest functionality. Typing in [CBD for] yielded the following search intentions, in descending order of popularity:
- For dogs
- For cats
- Panic Attacks
The last user-stated purpose in the above list — “CBD for life” — seems to imply that many consumers believe CBD has properties for overall health and wellness.
So what’s the bottom line? An analysis of both data sources taken together implies the following top five reasons that consumers purchase CBD:
- For their pets (both dogs and cats)
What Types Of CBD Products Can I Buy?
The CBD product industry is experiencing massive growth, whether measured by pure sales volume, or by the number and variety of products offered.
Consumers purchase CBD products for many reasons. CBD users in the 2019 Gallup poll cited pain relief, anxiety, sleep/insomnia, arthritis, migraines/headaches, and stress as the top six purposes for their CBD use (source).
But what kind of products are available? And which CBD products are the most popular?
Categorizing CBD products can be a bit tricky, since the regulatory environment is still evolving, and product positioning differs across the hundreds of different CBD brands.
Different brands can use different product names for products which are substantially similar. Additionally, sometimes a product will be marketed towards a typical consumer purpose (e.g. “sleep aid”) rather than its physical form (e.g. “gummies” vs. “topicals”).
That said, here the top-level product categories offered by five leading CBD brands online (source), as of March 1, 2021:
- CBD Capsules (& Softgels) (5)
- CBD Topicals (4)
- CBD Pet Products (4)
- CBD Gummies (3)
- CBD Oil (2)
- Bulk CBD (2)
- CBD Tinctures (2)
Each of the above product types were offered by multiple leading online CBD brands.
Additionally, each of the following products types were sold by a single leading online CBD brand:
- CBD Concentrates (1)
- CBD For Dogs (1)
- CBD Powders (1)
- CBD Sleep Aids (1)
- CBD Supplements (1)
- CBD Vapes (1)
- Pain Relief (1)
- Skincare (1)
So, the above list represents the major CBD product segments, as offered by five leading CBD brands; but it’s also useful to analyze which products most consumers are seeking.
Here are the top three product keyword phases according to Google’s “auto-suggest” feature, as of March 2, 2021:
- CBD Oil
- CBD Gummies
- CBD For Dogs / CBD Oil For Dogs
For a more extensive list of keyword data, we used SEMRush, a leading search keyword analysis app; this list of top product keywords was pulled on March 19, 2021:
- CBD Oil
- CBD For Cats
- CBD Gummies
- CBD For Dogs / CBD Oil For Dogs
- CBD Isolate
- CBD Tincture
- CBD Cream & CBD Lotion
- CBD Pills & CBD Capsules
- CBD Bath Bombs
Analyzing all three data sources, it appears that the top three product segments are: CBD oil, CBD gummies, and CBD pet products (including products intended specifically for either of, or both, cats and dogs). Following these three segments, the next largest product segments include CBD isolate, CBD tinctures, CBD topicals (including creams and lotions), and CBD pills / capsules / softgels.
What Is “Full Spectrum” CBD?
You may have come across the terms “full spectrum” or “isolate” while browsing CBD products. These labels tell you what kind of cannabinoid content you will find in each CBD product.
Remember, CBD is just one of over 80 chemical compounds (called cannabinoids) found within the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp. Another cannabinoid found within the Cannabis sativa plant is THC, which is psychoactive. And while hemp can contain a lot of CBD, it may contain only a limited amount of THC (no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis).
But there are a lot of other cannabinoids contained within hemp, too, beyond CBD and THC. These cannabinoids include CBG and CBN, which may have different effects on the body.
Full spectrum CBD products contain a full range of all these cannabinoids (including CBD, CBG, CBN, and others). When the cannabinoids are extracted from hemp, the entire extract is made into a consumable product, meaning the product will contain all of the cannabinoids that were present in the hemp plant.
It’s important to note that a legal, hemp-derived CBD product should never contain more than a limited amount of THC (no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis), even if the product is made with full spectrum CBD.
What’s The Difference Between CBD Isolate And “Full Spectrum” CBD?
CBD Isolate contains nothing besides pure, isolated CBD (with no other cannabinoids).
Full spectrum CBD differs from CBD isolate in that full spectrum CBD also contains the other cannabinoids that were present in the hemp plant from which it was extracted.
What Is “THC-free” CBD?
“THC-free CBD” can describe more than one kind of CBD product.
It may describe CBD isolate, that is, pure CBD which contains no other cannabinoids.
But “THC-fee” may also describe “broad spectrum CBD”.
What Is “Broad Spectrum CBD”?
Broad spectrum CBD is similar to full spectrum CBD in that it contains a full range of all the cannabinoids that were present in the hemp plant from which it was extracted, with the important exception that broad spectrum CBD products have all THC removed after the extraction process.
Again, any legal, hemp-derived CBD product should never contain more than a limited amount of THC (no more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis).
But if a CBD product is “full spectrum”, it may include this limited amount of THC; whereas with a broad spectrum CBD product, the THC is removed entirely. Broad spectrum CBD products may be desirable for consumers who do not want to consume even limited amounts of THC.