The CBD market is booming all over the world, due to changes in legislation, as well as scientific and medical discoveries about its benefits. CBD has also seen an attitude change of the consumer base. More and more people are turning to CBD, whether it is to relieve aspects of a medical condition or to manage stress levels. Most market studies estimate that CBD use in the world will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. This expanding market also means that CBD products undergo more quality controls. CBD is becoming a widespread medicine all over the world, with huge potential.
The CDB market
A blooming global market
Due to the speed at which the CBD market is booming, statistics are struggling to catch up with real-world usage. The global medical cannabis market value was estimated at $13.4 billion in 2018, with the potential to grow by as much as 40 times by 2022. Meanwhile, the global CBD market has been estimated by another study to be around $591 million the same year, with a growth potential of 700% by 2020.
One of the reasons for such a booming market is the change in legislation operated by countries all over the world. It is often said that CBD is still in a grey legal area, and that is because the plant it is derived from, cannabis, has been classified as a drug for many decades. However, the classified substance is THC, and legislation around THC contents vary across countries.
The law in Europe
At European level, the law allows CBD products as long as their THC content is under 0.2 %. This amount was initially 0.5% in 1984 and was reduced to 0.3% in 1987 and 0.2% in 1999.
However, as in the United States, the discretionary powers of member states permit them to have their own say regarding European legislation, in order to best suit the needs of a country. Therefore, there are many variations to be found from a country to another.
The main point of divergence is the THC content allowed in CBD products. For instance, Luxembourg allows cannabis which contains under 0.3% THC, while Italy set the limit at 0.6% in 2017. On the other end of the scale, France’s tolerance of THC levels in cannabis products is zero. Switzerland allows products with up to 1% THC, while in the Netherlands there is a tolerance policy around cannabis.
The European Market
In Europe, the CBD market has been estimated at 273 million € in 2018, and it is estimated that it should reach 1.5 billion € by 2021.2
The British Market
In the UK, CBD is the fastest growing wellbeing product in 2019 according to market research commissioned by the CMC. It is estimated that the UK market will reach £1 billion per year by 2025.According to The Cannabis Trades Association UK, CBD use has doubled in a year.
In 2019, one person in ten reports having used CBD at least once in the UK. Amongst the people who have not tried CBD products, one person in four declared they would consider doing so.
In the United States
The law in the USA
More and more states in the USA have made CBD legal recently, changing the landscape of CBD availability. However, the position found in state laws and federal laws is often contradictory. At the federal level, all cannabis products are considered illegal. Nevertheless, most states have voted laws which make CBD legal within their borders, except for South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Idaho. Some states have legalised cannabis altogether, including California, Alaska, Colorado and Maine. In those states, recreational cannabis is authorised. Therefore, access to CBD products depends on which state one lives in.
The American market
Even though there are still adjustments to be made on the legal status of CBD, medical support, as well as sales, are going up steadily in the USA. In 2019, it is estimated that one person in seven uses CBD based products in the USA. Market research talks about surpassing a $20 billion market by 2024 in the United States. Such figures show an exponentially increasing interest in CBD. This trend is also reflected in Europe.
Who consumes CBD and what for?
Profile of users
In the USA, CBD consumers have been found to be mostly in their forties. They generally have higher education and most of them are employed full time.5 In the UK, CBD consumers are mostly in the 25 to 49 age range, with people aged 50+ coming second.
Surveys conducted in the United States and Europe show very similar trends. Pain relief, anxiety or depression and insomnia are the three top reasons for taking CBD.
In the USA, a survey showed that 40% of users turned to CBD for pain management, followed by 20% for anxiety, 11% for insomnia and 8% to healing arthritis.6
Another survey gives more detailed results, as shown in the graph below:
In the UK survey, results are very similar with pain management coming first, followed by depression or anxiety, sleep disorders and arthritis.10
In what form?
According to the same study, the preferred form to take CBD is oil (58%), followed by vaping (21%) and creams (11%). Oil is perceived as the most efficient and safest form of consumption by most users. It is by far the preferred form of CBD intake for people aged 65+ (74% against 9% for vaping and 4% for creams).
A growing CBD market worldwide, led by consumers
CBD use is clearly growing at a global scale with striking speed. While medical research keeps investigating the benefits of CBD and other cannabinoids, laws are rapidly changing in the world regarding CBD use. Doctors, patients and users are clear about the potential of CBD to alleviate chronic pain, depression, as well as sleep disorders. This is making the demand for CBD steadily increase. CBD has become one of the most promising well-being products in the world today and is set to be one of the fastest-growing global markets in the years to come.
 BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research: https://bdsanalytics.com/u-s-cbd-market-anticipated-to-reach-20-billion-in-sales-by-2024/
 Centre for Medicinal Cannabis. https://www.thecmcuk.org/
 See for instance R.Mechoulam’s latest findings: https://www.healtheuropa.eu/raphael-mechoulam-latest-findings-93683-2/93683/