With the current flurry of interest in products containing cannabidiol, or CBD, the nonpsychoactive chemical in marijuana that doesn’t cause a “high,” it may seem only a matter of time before such items find their way to mainstream supermarket shelves.
After all, recreational marijuana is now legal in nine states, while medical marijuana is permitted in 30, according to Business Insider, which also cited a Gallup Poll finding that 64 percent of Americans are in favor of legalization.
As regards CBD products themselves, a new report from A.T. Kearney, “The Cannabis Opportunity,” found that more than half of the U.S. and Canadian respondents to the company’s survey would try recreational cannabis if or when it becomes legal, mainly in smoking (39 percent), food (41 percent) and “edible” capsule, softgel and powder (28 percent) forms. The research also uncovered the information that consumers are most likely to try therapeutic cannabis in foods (55 percent), vitamins (50 percent) and skin care (43 percent) – all categories readily available in supermarkets.
And speaking of our neighbors to the north, it’s been reported that Walmart Canada is looking into the possible sale of cannabis-based products, although the division was careful to say that it had no current plans to carry such items in its stores. At least as far as Canadians are concerned, talk about legally available marijuana isn't just hypothetical: The country is set to permit the substance's recreational use on Oct. 17.
Still, does that interest on the part of a major retailer mean that consumers will soon be able to assuage a case of the munchies by picking up a package of cannabidiol-infused cookies at any North American food retailer? Maybe not quite yet.
When I was at the Natural Products Expo East trade show in Baltimore last month, CBDs were a hot topic in the natural channel, as Progressive Grocer’s sister publication Convenience Store News discovered to be the case with c-stores in its coverage of the NACS Show.
Mainstream U.S. supermarkets may be a whole other ball game, though. One CBD purveyor at Expo East confided to me that she was considering changing the name of her product to feature the word “hemp,” which she thought had a higher level of acceptability than “cannabidiol” – somewhat misleading, as the two aren’t interchangeable – but she certainly has a point, since hemp products like seeds and oil and even energy bars are often found in many grocery stores. I, for one, enjoy hemp seeds sprinkled on everything from yogurt to peanut butter.
Most likely, mainstream American supermarkets won’t fully embrace CBDs unless or until marijuana becomes legal throughout the United States, thus shedding the last of its “outlaw” image and opening nationwide the floodgates of consumers eager to benefit from the reported therapeutic qualities of CBDs.