The CBD category boom has left a wide range of industry experts curious as to the future of business sectors that CBD has the potential to disrupt. Recently, Marijuana Business Daily Magazine debuted the Hemp Industry Daily Conference alongside its annual MJBizCon NEXT, both held in New Orleans from June 12-14, 2019.
Although the Hemp Industry Daily Conference sessions focused specifically on the hemp and CBD industries, MJBizCon NEXT 2019 also offered valuable insights into the fast-growing CBD sector. These insights primarily target business owners and industry professionals, but they also offer CBD consumers a glimpse into where the market, regulations and products are heading.
1. CBD industry growth has surged faster than regulators can keep up with.
The 2018 Farm Bill reclassified hemp as an agricultural product from its previous status as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside other cannabis genus plants. However, according to Michael Bronstein, president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp, in his lecture session “Where Are We Now? The Hemp Legal Landscape,” the 2018 Farm Bill did not “legalize” hemp so much as it legalized the regulation of hemp.
This means states can now submit regulatory plans for approval to the federal government to create the framework under which CBD and hemp businesses can legally operate. But the industry and government still have catching up to do to better regulate new and existing CBD products and businesses as the sector continues to boom.
In one major step forward, the FDA held its first-ever public hearing on CBD products on May 31, 2019. There, industry experts, business owners, and CBD users came forth with their research, opinions and case studies. Attendees and FDA regulators discussed why certain regulations regarding CBD should or shouldn’t be put into place as this new regulatory framework takes shape.
2. The industry needs increased more accurate CBD testing and labeling.
Per federal regulations, hemp and its byproducts, including hemp-derived CBD, sold in the U.S. market cannot contain a THC percentage beyond .3 percent. But without proper regulations in place, CBD business owners have struggled with certain ancillary business needs, such as banking and product testing.
Lack of adequate product testing means that products have been flooding the market, but the label claims don’t always match the chemical makeup of the product itself. Although some mislabeling could be mistakes or careless errors, others could be more intentional. And, bottom line, all have the potential to be harmful to consumers if they are unaware of the quantity or quality of CBD and THC in these products.
3. Hemp laws still vary by state, which can impact CBD sales and regulations.
The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for states to develop their own regulatory framework for hemp-derived CBD production and distribution. But this also leaves business owners and consumers to deal with a patchwork of regulations.
In other words, in one state, CBD regulations may amount to little more than lax enforcement of the federal rules currently in place. One state over, however, CBD retailers may face police raids and seizures of product even though their businesses operate legally by federal guidelines.
Throughout the conference, industry experts voiced concerns that this sort of state-by-state patchwork regulatory system could cause complications for interstate commerce on the business end. As for consumers, patchwork regulations could impact CBD consumption when traveling between states, as one Disney World visitor recently learned the hard way.
4. CBD will impact a wide range of industries, likely inspiring major corporations to jump onboard.
As regulators hammer out legal frameworks, more businesses are joining the CBD push—including major corporations in the food and beverage and consumer packaged goods spaces. Ben & Jerry’s has already announced its intention to develop a CBD ice cream, and retailers Kroger and CVS have announced they will carry CBD products in their stores in select states.
Fear that the industry will “sell out” is a common reaction to corporations joining the CBD movement. But on the positive side, involvement from major companies can bring a host of other benefits to this still fledgling industry:
- Easier and increasingly wide-ranging access to CBD products at retail, both brick-and-mortar and online
- Potentially more cost-effective alternatives, if mass-produced in existing corporate facilities
- An influx of research and development capital into the industry, particularly for startups and corporate incubators
- Increased lobbying influence for state and federal government agencies
As larger companies join the fray, the CBD industry continues to see new problems and solutions arise, while regulators—and consumers—work to keep up.
5. CBD has potential as an alternative treatment option to substance abuse and addiction, including opiates.
Opiates remain a common treatment option for individuals suffering from chronic pain and other ailments, but opiates have also become the leading driver of drug overdoses in the U.S. This has left survivors, victims, their loved ones and caretakers desperate for solutions to this potentially life-threatening addiction.
Born from this need for an alternative, many CBD-related success stories stem from individuals who experimented with and improved their quality of life by replacing opiates and other habit-forming medications with CBD products. Many CBD small business owners perusing the conference’s showfloor attended to gather the data and industry connections they needed to bring their products to market.
The first annual Hemp Industry Daily Conference united CBD industry enthusiasts from around the globe and brought forth an exciting array of industry insights to see CBD well into its bright new future.