Chill Out – CBD is everywhere

By Jennifer Keaveny

It seems lately that CBD is everywhere. The local coffee shop has CBD infused scones. The microbrewery down the street has a CBD beer. Your colleague is treating their migraines with CBD oil purchased online.  Being in the food and supplement testing industry for the past 13 years I have been able to watch the evolution of the Hemp and CBD market and how from a consumer perspective the lines are starting to blur between the traditional supplements and hemp and CBD products.

While it is clear that consumer demand is pushing this market forward the big issue is that Hemp derived CBD is not an approved dietary ingredient. This leaves the market in a bit of a regulatory black hole. The growth of this market has been said to be unprecedented by industry leaders with some estimates reaching as high as $16 billion by 2025. With the lack of regulations in this space how is the CBD market ensuring that there is quality and safety within the products?

It is apparent that there is buzz in the air with everyone in the food and supplement industry discussing CBD and Hemp.  From industry events to academic conferences the hot topic is CBD and Hemp. Not only are the side conversations and discussions being focused on hemp and CBD but I’ve seen a huge number of new entrants in the CBD space compared to last year. This includes established food and supplement companies who are exploring expanding their product lines to include CBD and Hemp.

While financial gains are driving the market growth it is becoming obvious is that safety and quality are becoming a large part of the conversation. The hemp plant has some unique properties that enable it to clean up the soil and environment around it.  Phytoremidiation is a term used to describe this process by scientist Ilya Raskin who tested hemp’s ability to accumulate heavy metals from soil in contaminated fields near Chernobyl in the 1990’s. While this is a promising aspect for environmental cleanup CBD producers want to ensure that the hemp that the CBD is being extracted from is clean from potential toxins in the environment such as heavy metals and pesticides. Residual solvents and microbiological testing also need to be considered due to various extraction and processing procedures.

In addition to potential contaminants the industry also needs to be mindful of the cannabinoid and terpene profile that is being claimed on each bottle of product. Each strain of hemp has a unique CBD fingerprint and it is important to ensure that the levels being claimed on the product are what are in there. This is especially important for THC from a legal perspective.

It is clear that this industry segment is not going away anytime soon. With the trends going towards safety and quality I am looking forward to see what the next 5 years brings for the CBD and Hemp market.