Ask anyone in the CBD business where they think the industry is headed, and you’ll likely receive any number of breathless projections. That is, if you can catch one of us first. The incredible rate of growth this industry has seen in just a few years has swept many of us along on a ride that few could have accurately predicted. But our confidence in the remarkable therapeutic properties of CBD and the support of millions of loyal consumers means that you’re unlikely to see any of us get off this rollercoaster soon.
What began years back as a niche novelty, shrouded in confusion, has taken on an unprecedented ubiquity and popularity thanks to the tireless energy of the UK CBD industry, sensible multilateral regulation, public education and a shift in attitudes that have helped CBD transcend tiresome health-fad labels and confirmed it as a truly viable, versatile and effective supplement used and adored by millions.
In the UK, the CBD market is currently worth £300 million, but most analysts expect that figure to more than triple over the next five years. If we reach the projected market value of £1 billion by 2025, it will have largely followed trends that have seen CBD users in the UK double every year since 2017. With a projected $5billion global market value in 2025, this has many in the industry cautiously excited. But there remains a number of hurdles – and opportunities – that could significantly dictate the direction of CBD in the UK over the next few years.
Regulation Marches On
You only have to look to March this year to get a glimpse of the stricter regulations coming our way. Despite CBD’s classification as a novel food under FSA (Food Standards Agency) guidance, some CBD companies have drawn unhelpful scrutiny upon the industry for selling products that contain either illegal traces of THC, the psychotropic compound contained in cannabis, or lower quantities of CBD than advertised. From 31st March 2021, companies will have to have a validated novel foods application for each of their products or risk being removed from shelves. A safe, legal and well-regulated CBD market is vital for consumer trust, and this and many more initiatives championed by the ACI (Association for the Cannabinoid Industry) should only help bolster public confidence in CBD.
The Return of Retail
There can be no doubt that the retail sector has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus and ensuing lockdowns. But belief in CBD’s potential on the high street remains almost as strong as it was before covid-19 began taking its toll. Since 2018, high street chains such as Boots, Holland & Barrett and Lloyds Pharmacy have been selling CBD products online and in-store, followed quickly by supermarkets like Tesco’s and even Amazon. While bricks and mortar retail could have a long and painful journey ahead to repair the damage inflicted by Covid, it’s widely agreed that CBD is very well-placed to continue its march to high street shelves, with many of the UK’s top CBD brands, planning to introduce dedicated CBD shops into town centres around the country.
While life post-Brexit continues to be a source of anxiety for many UK businesses, the CBD industry looks set to enjoy much more flexibility as we develop our own regulations, in line with our agreements with the EU, while opening up the market to international interests and development. Medicinal cannabis, in particular, could well be the herald of a new exchange of international benefits as fewer restrictions on medical cannabis trade between cannabis growers and producers in North and South America and the UK, should help validate cannabis’ medical potential and, by extension, CBD’s more accessible benefits.
As scientific research into THC and CBD intensifies, studies are beginning to reveal the untapped potential of cannabis’ less-showy phytocannabinoids and terpenes. It is estimated that there are over 120 cannabinoids and more than 150 terpenes found in cannabis, with CBN and CBG being two minor cannabinoids that are gaining interest for their own potential therapeutic properties. CBN alone may have such beneficial properties as antibiotic, appetite stimulation, anti-convulsant, sedative and pain relief as well as cancer-treating benefits. As the field widens to develop safer and more effective cannabis derivatives, expect to see CBD products advertise more diverse properties and benefits than before, and even entirely new cannabis-derived products.
The future for CBD promises to be as thrilling as the journey that has brought it to this point. As more people discover the benefits of this remarkable compound, and as markets continue to recognise and absorb this versatile, safe and effective supplement’s incredible potential, so too could we see the industry become a gleaming green jewel in the crown of a revived, more outward-looking UK.
By Simon Horth, MD of Green Stem CBD
About the Author:
Simon Horth is director and co-founder of Green Stem CBD, which he set up in 2018 in Guildford, Surrey to pioneer the highest-quality CBD products; products that not only enhance their users’ wellbeing but their lifestyle also. Green Stem CBD have since become one of the most recognisable and trusted CBD brands in the UK, winning Ten industry awards including Best CBD Oil three times in a row, Best Cosmetic for CBD-infused Lip Balm and Best Edibles for their CBD fruit-flavoured Gummies. Follow Green Stem on Instagram and Facebook.