Walgreens announced on Wednesday that it will soon begin selling CBD-based products in almost 1,500 stores across a swath of states, according to CNBC.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis (marijuana) and thought by some to alleviate ailments like anxiety, pain, and seizures — though there’s no conclusive research yet to back up those bold claims. The farm bill passed through Congress last year legalized CBD derived from hemp, but the FDA has still prohibited CBD from being added to food or sold as a dietary supplement (a la vitamins and minerals) based on the lack of available research so far.
Given the restrictions surrounding CBD, the products Walgreens is bringing to shelves are most likely creams, salves, sprays, and other topicals containing or infused with the compound. Earlier this month, rival drugstore CVS announced that they would begin selling cannabis-derived products in stores in eight states, leading many to believe the Walgreens announcement was a direct response to their competitor.
Walmart has promised to sell CBD products in Colorado, Oregon, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, and South Carolina so far. In contrast, CVS named Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee in their announcement.
Walgreens spokesman Brian Faith issued a statement to CNBC explaining a bit of the reasoning behind the company’s decision.
“This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers,” he said.
While the compound is distinct from THC, the primary psychoactive compound found in marijuana, CBD’s inextricable link to cannabis has caused regulatory and social difficulties for both users and businesses looking to market products based on or including cannabidiol.
As social and legal acceptance of cannabis grows, many companies are looking to explore the untapped CBD field. Infused creams, beauty, and skincare products are an easy — and controversy-free — first step for retailers looking to move into the new space, especially with CBD’s hot-topic status in the consumer products field. With hemp products already in the mainstream, CBD is a logical next step. Walgreens and CVS’ embrace of the substance may serve as the catalyst for more national retailers to bring CBD to their shelves.
Walgreens has not yet set a date to officially introduce the products in their stores, though they should be on shelves soon.