As you probably already know, in recent years the wellness world revolved around one promising substance – CBD or cannabidiol. The CBD market is obviously booming, with both physical and online stores selling everything from CBD oils and tinctures, to CBD beauty products or CBD pet treats. According to experts, the CBD market is expected to reach $20 billion by 2024, so we can safely say that the future’s looking bright and green at this point.
It seems like CBD has been around forever (and in a way it has), but the truth is that the CBD industry made slow progress up till now and is only just beginning to take off. The 2018 Farm Bill changed the rules of the game by removing hemp – the cannabis variety that contains 0.3% THC or less – from the controlled substances list, allowing broad cultivation and sale of hemp and hemp-based CBD products.
However, hemp-derived CBD remains in a gray area since the FDA hasn’t decided yet on the regulations and standards for its production, distribution or sale. This certainly didn’t discourage manufacturers in any way and it didn’t put a stop to CBD market expansion, but it does raise concerns about safety and efficiency among consumers.
All these aspects paint the picture of an industry that is rapidly evolving, but still has a lot of issues to address and countless obstacles to overcome for it to reach maturity and continue thriving. This is where technology comes into play to smooth the way and help players in the CBD sector to find new and innovative solutions.
The latest technological advancements in the field are mostly targeting CBD producers and suppliers, but consumers will implicitly benefit from them. Let’s check out some of these developments and see how they are driving the CBD industry forward.
New CBD strains
CBD can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana, the difference being made by the amount of THC they contain. Most people are not interested in the psychoactive properties of THC and they look for products with high CBD levels. As a result, producers have been trying to find ways to effectively isolate CBD from other compounds in the plant, so they can guarantee the purity of their products.
In the quest for producing high-quality CBD, breeding techniques have had a very important role. Through advanced cross-breeding methods, producers are able to create hemp strains that are CBD rich and contain untraceable amounts of THC, making it a lot easier to control purity levels in the products they launch on the market. Besides, cross-breeding also offers the possibility to create brand new hemp hybrids with different potencies and characteristics, to satisfy all consumers’ needs.
As the CBD industry expanded, there was a flood of CBD products on the market. This rapid growth also meant that a lot of questionable CBD derived products appeared on the shelves. Producers rushed in to launch 10 products at a time and sometimes they did that by cutting corners and compromising on quality. But these days the focus is on quality rather than quantity. Consumers have higher standards and are no longer satisfied by average products. They want to know everything about a CBD product before purchasing, from how their organic CBD nugs are being grown or harvested to CBD oil extraction and processing methods.
This has led to the development of quality tracking software that allows producers to document and control every step of the production process, helping them avoid quality issues and providing greater transparency from beginning to end. These programs can also be used to ensure compliance once CBD regulations are finally established.
CBD extraction technology
CBD oils are the true stars on the CBD market and there’s a fierce competition among producers to offer the best quality CBD extracts. There are various methods to extract CBD from hemp. Basic techniques employed ethanol and olive oil for extraction, but things have evolved since then and now producers are focusing on more advanced technology such as CO2 extraction. This comes with a great deal of benefits: it has a reduced impact on the environment, ensures a safer and cleaner process, it’s more cost-effective and less toxic than previous methods.
Another step forward in this area is represented by the ultrasonic extraction which is still under development. This technique works by isolating certain compounds in the hemp plant with the help of ultrasonic waves. Experts also claim it will support bioavailability, so it’s a very promising extraction method.
Alternatives to traditional banking
Since CBD’s legal status has raised a lot of questions and there’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the topic, banks are reluctant to support CBD businesses. Entrepreneurs expected that CBD legalization would put an end to this issue, but the stigma associated with cannabis lingered and a lot of banks didn’t change their views. This became a major obstacle for many CBD businesses and a hard to solve problem.
Luckily, CBD companies found a great alternative with blockchain and cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies are forms of currency that only exist digitally and utilize blockchain ledgers to enable financial transactions. Cryptocurrency transactions allow businesses in the hemp industry to bypass traditional baking systems and manage their finances in a fast and safe manner.
A lot of consumers wonder about CBD products efficiency. It all comes down to understanding CBD bioavailability or how much of the substance can be absorbed into the system. Studies show that by taking CBD orally, be it in the form of oil or CBD edibles, between 80 and 90 percent of the substance won’t be absorbed into the bloodstream and will be eliminated by the body.
Nanotechnology promises to solve this problem and increase CBD bioavailability. This process implies reducing the size of CBD extract molecules down to nanoparticle dimensions in order to facilitate absorption. The technology is still in its infancy and requires further studies, but experts are quite optimistic about its potential.