While CBD has been one of the stories of 2018, the novelty phase is now over, and 2019 will be the year the longer-term future of CBD products becomes clearer.
There is every sign of big continued interest in medical and recreational marijuana. And while such products should not be confused with CBD, we can expect some of that interest to rub off on the CBD market.
Meanwhile, there is likely to be increased scientific interest in trying to establish how efficacious CBD really is for health, pain-relief and general wellbeing.
Globally 2019 will continue to be a mixed bag for CBD, with growth expected to continue at a rapid pace in established markets while barriers remain in smaller or non-existent ones.
Countries such as the UK should continue to see growth. CBD-Intel analysts expect CBD use to become even more widespread as it is accepted into more health food stores and mainstream supermarkets.
But in other jurisdictions, such as France and Italy, where CBD products have seen greater restrictions, the future does not appear quite as bright.
Despite some advances, uncertainty and clampdowns are expected to continue in France while the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) continue to consider the questions raised by a French court in Aix-en-Provence.
In Italy the story is slightly better. Flowers and foods are expected to see continued restriction but a ministerial decree should add some clarity on foods. CBD food products are currently considered novel foods by Italian authorities and so would require authorisation. But in reality the issue is not clear-cut as what is considered a CBD food product and what is considered a “hemp” food product is ill-defined. A ministerial decree providing some clarity is expected – for example establishing clear maximum levels for THC content and also potentially also establishing levels for CBD.
And in Spain an increase in enforcement is expected to continue while the country sorts out its CBD regulation.
There is mixed news in the Czech Republic. A new proposal for the legalisation of cultivating, handling and using small amounts of low-THC cannabis for personal consumption was given a negative reception by the Czech government during its first reading in the country’s House of Representatives. It is expected that the soon-to-be published national anti-drug strategy for 2019-2027 will mention cannabis in general. However, that does not mean it will deal with CBD.
Other countries that have taken a negative approach to CBD are not expected to loosen controls in the near future. CBD-Intel does not predict a market in Russia within the next year, for example.
Further afield, countries such as Australia will see slow increases in CBD popularity but levels will depend on future regulation.
In terms of global business, competition from the larger non-vaping-related international brands such as Elixinol and CannabiGold is expected to increase. Consolidation within the sector as well as acquisitions by companies outside the sector should also continue to rise.
Expect to see more “sin” businesses become interested in the potential of CBD and other cannabis-related products, as was shown towards the end of 2018 by tobacco giant Altria and the big US brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev.
CBD commodity prices in the US are expected to lower the overall cost of CBD, while more emphasis will be placed on the terpene profiles of full spectrum CBD products. It could be that a number of other cannabinoids will finally be broken out as separate products or key ingredients and marketed independently in the same way as CBD is currently prioritised.
Oils and capsules will continue to be the dominant product forms but CBD cosmetics should become more prevalent – particularly in high-end beauty products – and CBD-infused drinks are likely to continue to rise as companies work on new formulations. In particular, CBD beers could become a trendy new thing.
Overall there is nothing to indicate that Canadian companies will lose their leading edge in the global business – though US cannabis companies should also start to make larger jumps and perhaps move internationally as they find uncertainty over their legitimacy lifted but not necessarily over their ability to do business across internal US state borders – forcing them to further consider international markets.
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