With anxiety arguably the defining sociological condition of today – especially among Millennials – and the overnight creation of a legitimate cannabis industry thanks to the growth of marijuana legalisation, you can see why consumers are charmed by the plant's promises. That, paired with consumers' growing desire to take healthcare into their own hands, is already fuelling a billion-dollar industry. According to a new estimate from cannabis industry analysts the Brightfield Group, the hemp-CBD market alone could hit £17bn (£21.7bn, €18.9bn) by 2022, while interest in CBD as a search term is now four times higher than it is for THC – the psychoactive constituent of cannabis – according to Google Trends.
Amid this burgeoning revolution and proposition as the cure-all for today's overwrought consumers, I question what evidence there is to truly demonstrate its effectiveness? The answer is very little. At present, research is extremely sparse simply due to the slow legalisation of cannabis itself. Anyone who tells you anything categorical about what CBD does to your body is fibbing – because right now, nobody really knows.
Dr Esther Blessing, a psychiatrist and researcher at New York University says that, 'most of the products where people are putting CBD in coffee or food, there’s no solid evidence that they contain enough CBD to do anything... A CBD coffee may only have five milligrams in it. In order to treat anxiety, we know you need around 300 milligrams.'
So while baristas, beauty brands and even brides might be overdosing – or in fact, microdosing – on CBD, does it hold potential as a medicinal alternative? 'I think there's good evidence to suggest that CBD could be an effective treatment of anxiety and addiction and other disorders,' Blessing says, 'but we need clinical trials to find out.'
Snake oil or the 21st Century cure-all? In my opinion, the medical industry needs to dig its heels in with fact-based findings before we waste our money on £10 CBD lattes.
For more on what's driving our obsession with CBD, subscribers can read our viewpoint with Melissa Gelula, co-founder of Well + Good.