There’s no getting around it: CBD is officially everywhere. Its popularity has skyrocketed. What started as a niche alternative health treatment has become a nationwide craze. And it doesn’t just show up as oils and tinctures anymore. There is whole array of curious CBD products, including lattes, makeup, bedsheets, bath bombs, and even dog treats.
But is CBD a wonder drug, or just another health fad? There’s no shortage of opinions out there, but we can discern a lot from CBD statistics. We’ve compiled reliable research and conducted a CBD survey to put the prevalence of CBD use and its potential health benefits into perspective.
What is CBD?
When some people hear “CBD,” their minds immediately jump to marijuana. And while there is a connection, it’s not as close as one might think. Since recreational and medical cannabis is available in several states now, it’s important to note the differences. CBD is primarily a hemp derivative, which is like a cousin to marijuana, but not the same plant.
Let’s take a step back. Both hemp and marijuana fall into the cannabis genus. Cannabis plants contain two naturally-occurring compounds: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD and THC are both cannabinoids but have different effects on the body. Most prominently, THC has psychoactive effects and CBD doesn’t, which is why CBD doesn’t make you feel high.
Marijuana and hemp each contain both compounds but in different ratios. Hemp has much lower levels of THC and larger amounts of CBD, which is why it’s often used for CBD products. Marijuana, on the other hand, has significantly more THC.
People use CBD for almost everything. Name a medical condition and there’s likely someone out there treating it with CBD or other cannabis products. But when someone claims that CBD cured their migraines or skin rash, take it with a grain of salt. Because the CBD industry is so new, there simply hasn’t been enough research to fully understand its effects yet.
While it shows plenty of promise in treating various conditions, “it is not a one-size-fits-all [remedy] to treat specific conditions or symptoms of those conditions for every individual,” says Manisha Singal, MD, the founder of Aethera Beauty. “Research on the benefits and action of CBD in topical formulations as well as ingestible forms is ongoing. That experimentation is in its preliminary stages and there is a long way to go. The medical potential for CBD and other cannabinoids is undeniable, but medical research takes time and careful analysis.”
That said, it has shown efficacy in treating chronic pain and anxiety (two of its most common uses), as well as insomnia and arthritis. And the only FDA-approved medication that contains cannabidiol so far is Epidiolex, which treats childhood seizures associated with Dravet Syndrome or Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome in patients two years of age and older.
How common is CBD use?
- 33% of American adults have used CBD once or more. (SingleCare, 2020)
- 64% of Americans are familiar with CBD and/or CBD products. (Gallup, 2019)
- An estimated 64 million Americans have tried CBD in the last 24 months. (Consumer Reports, 2019)
- Of those who use CBD, 22% said it helped them supplement or replace prescription or over-the-counter drugs. (Consumer Reports, 2019)
CBD statistics in America
- Hemp-derived CBD products are legal in all 50 states, as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC. (Food and Drug Administration, 2020)
- In overall cannabis sales, Colorado tops the list, having sold over $1 billion since 2014. (CNN, 2019)
- The top states for CBD sales in 2019 are California ($730 million), Florida ($291 million), and New York ($215 million). (Statista, 2019)
- Of the Americans who use CBD, the most common uses are for pain relief (64%), anxiety (49%), and insomnia (42%). (SingleCare, 2020)
- CBD web searches increased by 125.9% from 2016 to 2017 and 160.4% from 2017 to 2018. (JAMA Network, 2019)
- United States hemp farmland increased from 25,713 acres in 2017 to 78,176 acres in 2018. (Food Business News, 2019)
CBD statistics by age
CBD user demographics skew young. Of all age groups, Americans age 18-29 are most likely to use CBD consistently, and its popularity decreases with age. (Gallup, 2019):
- 20% of people ages 18-29 use CBD
- 16% of people ages 30-49 use CBD
- 11% of people ages 50-64 use CBD
- 8% of people age 65 and older use CBD
And the numbers nearly double for adults who have tried it once or more. According to a 2019 Consumer Reports CBD survey:
- 40% of people ages 18-29 have tried CBD
- 32% of people ages 30-44 have tried CBD
- 23% of people ages 45-59 have tried CBD
- 15% of people 60 and older have tried CBD
CBD statistics by method
According to our SingleCare survey, nearly half of CBD users prefer oils/tinctures, lotions/balms, and gummies. But there’s a growing market for CBD edibles.
- 18% are interested in capsules/tablets
- 18% are interested in topical sprays
- 17% are interested in CBD-infused food, such as chocolate
- 13% are interested in vaping products
- 12% are interested in soap
- 11% are interested in non-alcoholic, CBD-infused drinks
- 9% are interested in CBD bath bombs and salts
- 8% are interested in skincare products
- 8% are interested in patches
- 1% are interested in other CBD products
When it comes to where CBD users get their products, a 2019 Consumer Reports study says:
- 40% purchase CBD from a dispensary
- 34% purchase CBD from a retail store
- 27% purchase CBD from an online retailer
- 12% purchase CBD from another source
CBD and overall health
CBD enthusiasts will tell you that it changed their lives, citing all sorts of positive effects. Skeptics will tell you that it’s all hype and has no actual benefits. The truth falls somewhere in between. Our survey found that 32% of people who’ve used CBD did not find it effective. While there hasn’t been extensive research on its effects, it shows promise as an anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety treatment, as well as a sleep aid. And this can give us some insight into CBD’s appeal as a new addition to holistic wellness routines.
People tout CBD as a miracle treatment for heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer’s, acne, and much more. Researchers haven’t found substantial evidence that it can effectively treat any of these conditions, but we also know that inflammation and stress can be contributing factors to these conditions. So, there may be some truth to the claims that CBD is beneficial to everyday health. Whether it’s in a morning smoothie, part of a skincare routine, or something else entirely, regular CBD use can potentially be beneficial for some people, although it comes with risks too.
Recreational vs. medical cannabis use
Recreational cannabis use isn’t quite the same as medical use. CBD oil and other products intended for medical use typically come in smaller doses and aren’t full-spectrum CBD (or “whole plant” CBD), which contains THC as well.
“CBD can have varying strengths depending on if it is used in isolation or if used in conjunction with THC for entourage effects,” says Dr. Singal. And some people want these compound effects. However, there are a ton of CBD producers and retailers out there, and not all of them are reliable. Although 47% of the Americans that we surveyed think the government regulates CBD, it does not.
A recent study by Penn Medicine revealed that almost 70% of cannabidiol products sold online are mislabeled. So, products from online retailers that haven’t been properly vetted could contain higher levels of THC or other compounds. Our survey found that 22% of people won’t try CBD because they don’t trust the product or manufacturer.
CBD side effects
Like other medications, CBD can have side effects, too. In one study, one-third of CBD users reported a non-serious side effect, including dry mouth, euphoria, hunger, irritated eyes, and/or fatigue. And according to Michael Hall, MD, the founder of the Hall Longevity Clinic, the spectrum of side effects is even broader.
“CBD contains multiple oil-based terpenes, which can excite the immune system,” says Dr. Hall. “The most common side effects associated with CBD-based products include sleepiness, sedation, and lethargy; elevated liver enzymes; decreased appetite; diarrhea; rash; fatigue, malaise, and weakness; insomnia, and possible interaction with some prescription medications.”
Typically, these effects aren’t dire, but they can be inconvenient and disruptive to a person’s everyday routine.
As far as drug interactions go, there hasn’t been a ton of research and testing, so it’s hard to say. CBD can potentially interfere with tacrolimus, an immunosuppressive medication. Because there are a lot of unknowns, anyone looking to supplement their current medications with CBD should consult a healthcare provider first.
The cost of CBD
America’s CBD market has a near-vertical trajectory. With the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana in numerous states, an increasing number of people are looking into the benefits of cannabis, and CBD sales reflect that interest.
- The United States CBD market value was just over $4 billion in 2019 and may top $25 billion by 2025. (Brightfield Group, 2019)
- The cannabis- and hemp-derived CBD market may see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49% by 2024. (BDSA, 2019)
- 44% of regular CBD users spend $20-$80 per month on CBD products. 13% spend more than $160 per month. (Brightfield Group, 2019)
CBD law and restrictions
Here’s the big question: is CBD legal or not? The laws around cannabis are frequently changing and vary from state to state. CBD derived from hemp is legal, as long as it meets certain requirements. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (AKA the 2018 Farm Bill) allowed for the production and marketing of hemp-derived CBD products without federal regulation as long as they contain no more than 0.3% THC. But these products should not be labeled or marketed as medications. The FDA has only approved one CBD-based drug (Epidiolex), so the sale of other CBD products as drugs for the treatment of specific medical conditions is not yet legal.
Additionally, the FDA has not approved products that contain cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds for medical use. In fact, at the federal level, all marijuana is illegal (medical or otherwise). It’s still classified as a Schedule I substance (along with heroin and LSD) by the DEA under the Controlled Substances Act. However, 33 states have legalized it for medical purposes, and 11 of those have approved recreational use for adults 21 and older. Technically, federal law supersedes state law, but the federal government has not chosen to prosecute businesses and/or individuals selling or using cannabis in states where it’s been legalized.
CBD questions and answers
How many people know what CBD is?
In a recent Gallup poll, 64% of U.S. adults said that they were familiar with CBD and/or CBD products. In a 2020 SingleCare survey, we found that one-third of Americans have used CBD.
Why do people use CBD?
People claim that CBD can treat everything from acne to cancer. But the most common uses are for pain, inflammation, anxiety, and insomnia.
What age group uses CBD the most?
CBD use is most common in populations ages 18-34, according to a recent SingleCare survey.
How much money is spent on CBD?
The CBD market exceeded $4 billion in 2019, according to a study by the Brightfield Group, and they expect the industry to top $25 billion by 2025.
How many people have died from ingesting CBD oil?
CBD oil consumption has not been directly linked to any deaths. One of the most popular CBD products is vape cartridges, however, and the FDA has linked vaping to certain lung injuries and death.
- The 2020 CBD survey, SingleCare
- FDA regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD), U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Understanding cannabidiol, Brightfield Group
- Medical cannabis evidence on efficacy, D.C. Department of Health
- Cannabidiol (CBD)—what we know and what we don’t, Harvard
- CBD goes mainstream, Consumer Reports
- U.S. CBD market anticipated to reach $20 billion in sales by 2024, BSDA
- Trends in internet searches for cannabidiol (CBD) in the United States, The Journal of the American Medical Association
- Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series, The Permanente Journal
- A cross-sectional study of cannabidiol users, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research
- U.S. hemp acres more than triple, Food Business News
- Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis, European Journal of Pain