How, When, and Why CBD Got So Popular So Fast [Explained]

The CBD market in the US is expected to surpass $20 billion by 2024, according to cannabis researchers BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research.

If you had started a conversation about CBD oil ten years ago, you might have been met with a confused stare. Mention it now, and it will likely result in a livened conversation about the latest CBD trends. In essence, it’s everywhere.

So how did one compound found in hemp inspire a multi-billion dollar industry in less than ten years? Let’s find out…

Legalization of Industrial Hemp

One huge driving force behind CBD’s popularity was the 2018 Farm Bill Act. The law proposed removing hemp from the Schedule I controlled substance list, which includes drugs such as heroin and ecstasy.

This proposal was influenced by the exciting potential CBD had shown in a plethora of scientific studies. Not only might it be beneficial for our bodies, but compared to its sister compound THC, it was also found to be non-psychoactive.

After the law passed, hemp became an important agricultural commodity. It meant that freedoms were allowed to farmers who wanted to re-market their crops for the CBD industry. However, certain restrictions have to be followed. Some of these include:

  • Hemp must contain no more than 0.3% THC
  • Cultivation and production must be approved at the state level
  • Prospective growers must apply for and receive all licensure

Despite these regulations, many farmers find growing hemp a success. As long as they secure a buyer, of course.

US farmers grew four times as much hemp in 2020 as they did in 2018 – from 27,424 acres to 128,320 acres.

– US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Still, the 2018 “hemp law” is far from simple. Since hemp legalization resides at the federal level, many are under the assumption that all hemp-based products are legal everywhere, and for everyone.

The reality is some states still hold a conservative view of industrial hemp. In rare instances, store owners selling various hemp CBD products have even been arrested on charges of marijuana possession.

Of course, in the nation’s more liberal states (i.e. California, Colorado, New York, etc), CBD has had the opportunity to thrive. Without the required supply of industrial hemp, companies wouldn’t be able to manufacture and sell CBD at such a speed.

Like any industry, supply and demand is a balancing act – and the Farm Bill Act allowed for a supply that simply hadn’t been viable before.

CBD’s Health Benefits

A quick search of the term ‘CBD’ on The National Institutes of Health database will return over 600 studies. That’s 600+ studies investigating how CBD interacts with things like chronic back pain, PTSD, osteoarthritis, and countless more topics.

Why is there so much scientific interest surrounding this compound?


CBD is a cannabinoid, among many others, that can be found in the Cannabis sativa L plant. Prominent studies have discovered that this chemical compound can interact with a range of receptors within our bodies. Many of these receptors are found within the endocannabinoid system, and provide important biochemical pathways that can influence mood, pain, and more.

Any substance that shows this much potential is bound to curate lots of interest in the scientific community and beyond. In fact, CBD is already being used to address many conditions. Some of the most common uses of cannabidiol today are:

  • Pain relief
  • Anxiety
  • Neuroprotective properties

Despite the strides we’ve made in CBD research, there is still much to learn about this compound and its relationship with these ailments. Luckily, the money, public interest, and accessibility are now there to drive studies forward.

Diminishing Stigma

Cannabis has a long and storied history in terms of its view in the public eye. When most people hear the term, they automatically think marijuana, which of course creates a psychotropic high from the compound THC. However, while both hemp and marijuana can be categorized as a variety of cannabis, they are ultimately very different.

In the US, hemp crops contain less than the legal allowance of 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains more. That’s why you’ll experience a high with a marijuana strain, but none with a CBD product. Despite this distinction, many people have been cautious when suggesting CBD usage.

What’s interesting is that this concern seems to be a modern problem. There is evidence to suggest that cannabis has been used and celebrated by numerous ancient societies. The Greek historian Herodotus even references the nomadic Scythians using cannabis stream baths for pleasure. (Perhaps we should take note)?

Luckily, public opinion has been largely positive about CBD use – at least over the last several years. This is mainly down to its safety profile, trendy marketing ploys, and beneficial effects. In fact, many communities now embrace and celebrate CBD. Just do some CBD Google searches in any major city, and you’ll find numerous CBD-inspired restaurants across the globe!

A Sign of the Times

It’s hard to deny that a “cure-all” is appealing in an age with so much fear, stress, anxiety, and uncertainty. How do you remain calm in a world of political unrest, melting ice-caps, high unemployment rates, and deadly viruses? You could try screaming in the downward dog or intermittent fasting, but most people want a more convenient remedy.

Our fascination with wellness culture has led to uprisings in yoga and veganism. CBD’s image fits in perfectly with this melody of ‘culture anxiety cures.’ However, it’s likely that the effects are even better.

Not only do we have tangible scientific backing that CBD can positively impact various conditions, including anxiety, but it’s accessible to most people in the world. This is one of the key reasons CBD has caught on immensely in terms of widespread popularity over recent years.

Media Buzz and Versatility

Forget hippy loving smoke circles, CBD is a wellness solution that seems to break all societal boundaries. From Wall Street bankers to stay-at-home parents, the compound has been successfully marketed to literally everyone. (Even our pets are getting in on the action).

DID YOU KNOW? The CBD pet market is now a multi-billion dollar industry annually.

One of the reasons CBD appeals to so many different people is because they can buy it in so many shapes, sizes, and formulations. Impressive technological leaps have enabled this amazing compound to be manufactured in almost any form. Not only does this make CBD more accessible for a range of lifestyles, but it means you can inject some fun into your daily CBD routine.

Some of the most popular products are:

  • Oils
  • Creams
  • Vapes
  • Gummies

This versatility is part of CBD’s appeal. And of course, you can infuse CBD into everything and anything. Want some CBD-infused clothes, bath-bombs, or bed sheets? Some of even the wackiest ideas have proved a hit with CBD-lovers.

The Future of CBD

In terms of legalization, it seems almost impossible for CBD to lose its current momentum – especially with the ferocious push of scientific studies. We may even see some of the more conservative states begin to relax on the accessibility of hemp-based products.

However, the longevity of trends is always in question. (Remember Zumba classes and avocado toast?) In other words, is hype always followed with a decline?

Personally, we don’t think so. What sets CBD apart from other trends is its real health benefits. While we might be witnessing the high right now, it won’t follow in the footsteps of so many other trends and end up in the graveyard.

Through a collaboration of legalization, research, and media promotion, this wonderful compound has generated a fortune for those smart enough to predict the CBD revolution, and will likely continue to see increased use and popularity in the years to come.

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