Chart of the Week: Patient Interest in CBD Rising Rapidly, Presenting New Business Opportunities

By Becky Olson

The cannabis industry has witnessed an internal arms race in recent years, with marijuana growers and infused products companies trying to top each other by boosting THC levels in their offerings to new heights.

But another trend has emerged on the other end of the spectrum as well. Cannabis businesses are developing an ever-increasing array of products that contain high amounts of CBD, catering to increased demand from users who want to ease pain without getting high.

The sharp rise in interest among cannabis users can be seen in data from the strain and dispensary review site Leafly, which had over 40 million total visitors in 2014 and projects over 70 million in 2015. Currently, the site has a little over 1 million registered users.

In July, Leafly recorded 1,770 unique searches for the term “CBD” on its site and mobile app, a 521% increase from August 2014, according to data provided by the company on its top 150 search terms over that 12-month period. CBD also is now one of the top 50 terms users search for each month.

The figures support what many in the industry have already observed: interest among both medical and recreational users in CBD has skyrocketed.

“The whole original intent (with high-CBD products) was to help patients manage their pain,” said Bruce Nassau, CEO and partner of Tru Cannabis, which operates five marijuana storefronts in Colorado. “Now, recreational users have picked up on this, and rather than go for opiates that are prescribed by a medical provider, they are essentially starting to self-medicate.”

Nassau described how the majority of increased demand at Tru Cannabis’ locations has initially been for high-CBD flowers, but that demand for high-CBD edibles and topicals has picked up significantly as well.

“(High-CBD) patches in particular have gotten really popular,” he said.

Cannabidiol’s pain and seizure management properties are well known within the MMJ community, but the newly legal recreational markets have brought a much wider array of cannabis users into the fold. Nassau likened this phenomenon to that of the “diffusion of innovation” and stated the MMJ community are essentially the early adopters of high-CBD forms of the plant, but use of such products will ultimately become mainstream.

“The (increased) demand for high-CBD really drove us to offer these products on the rec side,” where they have been immensely popular, he said.

It’s worth noting the large spike in searches on Leafly for “CBD” in July is tied mostly to user activity on the company’s mobile app, as searches for the term on its website were relatively flat.

This indicates an even more recent shift in when and how patients and consumers are searching for information about cannabis, as well as how they seek out retail outlets with high-CBD products.

High rates of activity on mobile apps for marijuana are generally associated with younger consumers, indicating a spike in interest for high-CBD products among users whose use is more typically associated with partying.

As the marijuana industry evolves, so too does the face of the “typical” cannabis user, particularly in states that permit recreational sales. The acceleration of interest in therapeutic uses of CBD is another indicator of that evolution.

Becky Olson can be reached at [email protected]

9 comments on “Chart of the Week: Patient Interest in CBD Rising Rapidly, Presenting New Business Opportunities
  1. canadian1969 on

    What I do not understand is that Hemp (a strain) only produces < 1% THC. So in theory it should be upwards of 40% CBD, useless to smoke recreationally of course. But why go to the trouble of breeding high CBD strains when Hemp is already there. I figure I have missed a critical point about plant biology here. Are hemp farmers just throwing away all that CBD?

    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      It’s my understanding that only seedless, female flowers of cannabis plants–what everybody has called ‘marijuana’ for aeons–contain the medicinal compounds such as cannabidiol (CBD), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and dozens of others. Cannabis hemp crops–both pollinating male and female flower types grown together in fields, which loads the females up with seeds–convert those medicinal compounds to nutritional ones, including protein and essential fatty acids extracted from hemp seeds. Then again, I can only go on reports from other states and countries, not actual growing experience, because we still live under the Anti Marihuana Tyranny in New York. Officials here are still very busy trying to destroy as many cannabis plants as they can, deploying helicopters and hundreds of federal, state and local agents statewide to do so. A complete waste of their time and our money to ‘eradicate’ one of the most amazing and beneficial plant species on Earth–not to mention a blatant suppression of New York’s cannabis industry as a whole.

  2. James on

    Many people want to only consider CBD from marijuana. Yet great question Canadia1969, as CBD from hemp is a great source. We are seeing it over and over again, perform just as good for many ailments and disease states. Now being careful not to make any claims, one could argue that CBD is CBD. A molecule of CBD wether from Hemp or Marijuana, is still CBD. Now what we think is going to be the next big trend, inside of CBD, is water soluble CBD, or 100% bioavailable CBD. As studies are starting to show that it can be 5-10 times more effective than CBD oil. This is exciting because it not only is more effective, it is more affordable! And safe. Less is more. And you should never give you body too much of anything, even too much water can kill you. Anyway, here at we are turning CBD into 100% Bioavailable CBD, in the form of capsules, Gel, and soon to be patches, under the tongue strips, water soluble CBD drinks and more. We are 1/3 the price of Hemp CBD companies for a month supply. And the prices keep coming down. Soon we will be offering Water Soluble CBD from Marijuana also, yet we have to build a lab in each state and we need help for that. Until then, people can get CBD shipped to their door if it is derived from Hemp Oil Extract. Which ours is. So we will continue to help many many people, since CBD is such a powerful all natural medicine for so many! We are only ones doing an all natural water soluble CBD without the use of Glycerin, Liposomes, Solvents or detergents. We use curcumin (from Turmeric) and it’s a VERY powerful combo!

  3. bongstar420 on

    Its surprising people don’t notice the irony that CBD queries are going up as legalization proceeds with much lower interest during the strictly “medical” marijuana years.

    Or maybe its not with absolute IQ’s being where they are

  4. steve smith on

    Unfortunately, there are many companies and products jumping on the CBD bandwagon. Many consumers don’t realize that hemp seeds alone do NOT contains CBD. The healthiest and most effective CBD is derived from “whole hemp plant” extractions using super critical CO2 methods so as to preserve its medicinal qualities. Using BHO or other solvent based methods almost always “cooks” the CBD’s beneficial properties out of the extracted material since CBD has a very low boiling point (let alone the inherent contradiction of making medicine with a toxic solvent). At PET RELEAF, we make CBD infused treats and CBD oils for dogs and cats using 100% organic hemp grown in Europe. Check out our site and contact us more info on CBD pet products made with honesty and integrity.

  5. Cannabis and Hemp Association-NYC on

    The Cannabis and Hemp Association tested for 8 months a brand of CBD products and found that there is a stark difference between hemp oil, CBD hemp oil, and the degree of quality within the CBD hemp oil class.

    We strongly advise consumers and career seekers to stay away from multi-level marketing products involving CBD.

    We have partnered with a company that distributes CBD hemp oil products that have met our quality standards and became the first CHA Approved Products. If you or someone you know is seeking authentic CBD for sales opportunities, distribution nationally or worldwide, please check out

    All of the CBD is from hemp, tested at 47% with ISO certified independent lab certification. They have proprietary extraction systems that are solvent and hydrocarbon free, with terpene profiles to prove there potential for an entourage effect.

    There is no need for anyone to move to Colorado or California for CBD anymore. Please contact the distributor if anyone is seeking career opportunities, wholesale distribution oops, or CBD for their own personal use.

    AEI, Inc is the distributor of these products and the website was mentioned above.

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