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Cannabidiol sales continue to increase as the medication gains in popularity. Lucky Project/Getty Images
  • A data research firm says sales of cannabidiol (CBD) could reach as high as $11 billion by 2027.
  • Experts say the medication’s popularity has continued to increase since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
  • Research has indicated that CBD can potentially be helpful to alleviate symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Experts caution consumers, however, to be wary of some marketing claims about CBD.

Cannabidiol is officially a phenomenon.

Sales of cannabidiol (CBD) products could climb as high as $11 billion by 2027, up from the already heady 2022 projection of $5 billion in retail sales, according to the Brightfield Group, a data research firm with ties to the cannabis industry.

Those projections are partially dependent on whether the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) implements regulatory reform. However, even without such reforms, the industry is still predicted to grow to more than $6 billion by 2027.

That’s a swift rise for the cannabis-derived compound since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. Hemp is defined as cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and derivatives of cannabis with low concentrations of the psychoactive compound delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

“I believe CBD became so popular because it was the first non-intoxicating cannabinoid that became federally legal and widely accessible,” said Dr. Jeff Chen, the founder of the University of California Los Angeles Cannabis Research Initiative and a medical advisory board member at Healthline.

“Cannabinoids are compounds that only occur in the plant kingdom in the cannabis plant and they interact with the human endocannabinoid system. THC is the principal intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis and is still federally illegal,” he explained to Healthline. “Cannabis/THC has been a mainstream topic in the U.S. for many years, but consumers may not use it because of the intoxicating effect, or workplace drug testing of THC, or inability to access legally in their state.”

While many states have since legalized the medical or recreational use of cannabis products, CBD products are increasingly sold in states even where cannabis use is illegal.

CBD products come in tinctures, salves, pills, gummies, and oils and often promise all the benefits of medical cannabis without the intoxicating effects or potential legal complications.

But while CBD has become popular, the hard science on its real therapeutic benefits is still emerging.

“The initial popularity has been largely driven by media and marketing hype and anecdotal accounts of its benefits – not proven science,” Dr. Mark H. Ratner, the chief science officer at nutritional science company Theralogix, told Healthline. “There are many studies underway to evaluate its efficacy in various medical conditions and the best practices for achieving that efficacy. As those studies are published – and assuming the data is supportive – the results will be reported by the media and the interest of consumers should continue to grow.”

So far, the only FDA-approved CBD product is Epidiolex. It’s used in the treatment of epilepsy in children, which has spurred further studies into the possible neuroprotective effects of CBD oil.

But that application was a watershed moment for many researchers.

“Many people – myself included – were very inspired seeing how children with severe forms of epilepsy benefitted from CBD, especially since the traditional pharma model had failed them,” Chen said.

Preliminary research has also found that CBD may be helpful for the alleviation of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders, addiction, psychosis, and post-traumatic stress disorder, among others.

Meanwhile, other studies have shown promising results for using CBD to alleviate symptoms of pain and inflammation. These studies have not as yet involved human participants.

In addition, CBD appears to be essentially a safe supplement.

“There have been human studies testing CBD up to 1,000 mg daily, which has been found to be generally well-tolerated and safe. Common side effects of CBD include gastrointestinal upset and lethargy,” Chen said.

“However, certain types of individuals need to be careful about CBD,” he continued. “Those who are taking prescriptions with a grapefruit warning, such as certain blood thinners and anti-seizure medications, should avoid CBD since grapefruit and CBD interact similarly with medications.”

While CBD is unlikely to harm most consumers, experts warn that people should be cautious about some manufacturers’ more outlandish claims.

“Some of the more zealous – but less responsible – CBD marketers have made claims for benefit in a wide range of serious medical conditions, e.g., autism, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, stroke, et cetera,” Ratner told Healthline. “Aside from the benefit in seizure disorders, there are no studies to support most of those claims of benefit in serious medical ailments.”

Daniele Piomelli, Ph.D., the director of the Center for the Study of Cannabis at the University of California Irvine, agreed.

“Most claims, unfortunately, are driven by marketing rather than data,” he told Healthline. “Some are even funny, like claiming that CBD-infused pillows give you a good night of sleep or that a CBD latte relieves stress.”

Chen had a more optimistic outlook.

“As we study CBD more, we’ll better understand the conditions CBD can truly benefit and the appropriate dosages required,” he said.