Two of the largest drugstore chains in the U.S. plan to make a plunge into the CBD market, signaling a major trend toward CBD becoming a mainstream consumer good. Both CVS Pharmacy & Walgreens are specifically looking at topical pain creams and skin care products, as they fall in line with their current health and wellbeing offerings. Consumers will soon be able to shop the selection at chains in Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana. However, Walgreens and CVS both refuse to release specific information on the brands they will be carrying. “CBD is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers,” Walgreens spokesman Brian Faith said in an email to CNBC.
The non-psychoactive compound, CBD, is now taking to the streets, as the ingredients become one of the most popular consumer trends of today. CBD is said to help with anxiety, pain management, sleep, mood and a wide range of other ailments. Consumers grow ever so curious to try CBD products for themselves, as replacements to their other costly or ineffective treatments. This is particularly what the FDA is worried about, as they sent some warning shots to the bows of CVS and Walgreens this week. The FDA explicitly stated that they would not tolerate irresponsible advertising without evidence that further proves the so-called benefits of CBD. The FDA is mostly worried that consumers will forgo their medical products or processes for the “magic oil” only to be disappointed and left in a worse medical condition.
Retailers remain on the sidelines as they carefully evaluate the market. It seems CVS & Walgreens believe it’s worth the risk to make these kinds of options available for consumers to choose for themselves. They plan to launch the products in over 1,500 stores in the following months. The question remains are they making a smart move to enter the space premature to an FDA ruling, or is this putting them at a major liability risk? The pharmacy giants are not the only companies taking the leap, as trendy lunch spots are drizzling CBD dressing on salads, hip Bars are adding it to cocktails and juice bars and coffee houses are adding it to their beverages.
The industry remains a long way away from having a structured regulatory framework. So how do companies meet consumer demand while waiting for the very specific and limited clinical research trials to carry out? Although hemp is now legal, as per the Farm Bill of 2018, it is still subject to the FDA’s regulatory input and approval. This means that before we see more chains really double down on the cannabis landscape, regulations will need to catch up. In the meantime, we are excited to see how these trailblazers do and will be keeping a look out at CVS and Walgreens for the new selection of CBD topicals, creams, and sprays!
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