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Published October 16th 2018

Now You CBD It, Now You Don’t

One of the most significant trends in marijuana is CBD. We analyzed the rise of CBD and the reasons why it is resonating with so many.

What comes to mind when someone says “marijuana?” Perhaps traditional consumption methods like smoking or eating edibles, which usually have THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the compound in marijuana that gets you high.

However, to many people, marijuana means CBD. In the last few years, there has been a rapid rise in the popularity of CBD (cannabidiol), which seems to be signalling a shift in the way people consume marijuana.

While THC may be the one that gets you high, CBD provides a wide range of health-related benefits that make it appealing to consumers: anxiety relief, pain reduction, and sleep improvements.

As of now, CBD is not yet legal in all 50 states or in Canada (without a medical marijuana prescription). However, that will soon change for Canada on October 17, when marijuana is legalized countrywide. And when that changes, there will be plenty of new opportunities for CBD.

People are becoming increasingly creative with the ways they consume marijuana. The traditional ways like smoking a blunt, joint, or bowl, are being joined by newer consumption methods like waxes, edibles, and oils. But perhaps no new method has grown as quickly as CBD. With online retailers also expected to drive the growth of the marijuana market, CBD has a bright future.

Why are consumers talking so much about CBD? What does its rise mean for cannabis businesses?

To help answer those questions, we analyzed millions of consumer conversations about CBD and marijuana and looked at:

  • The reasons people use CBD.
  • The CBD audience.

An all-purpose treatment

CBD is used to treat a variety of conditions and according to the online discussion, it is perceived to be highly effective. Ninety-three percent say that CBD is effective, versus the 7 percent that say CBD is ineffective.

But effective at what? What are the most common reasons consumers are turning to CBD?

Effective CBD topics wheel

Those heralding CBD’s effectiveness discuss CBD-heavy strains, giving CBD a try, and its ability to relieve pain. Whether a consumer is an experienced CBD user or a first-time user, CBD is highly versatile and a consumer is able to customize to their needs.

While many discuss pain relief as a primary use case for CBD, there are more. What else is CBD used for?

We found that 38% of people discussed how CBD alleviates anxiety by producing a calming effect. CBD also helps with alleviating depression, according to 9% of the conversation. The anti-inflammatory properties of CBD could help with metabolism, making it useful for diabetics. Lastly, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help with acne.

High places

In both Canada and the United States, the CBD discussion didn’t truly take off until 2016. From there, it skyrocketed. The volume of the CBD conversation in the United States increased by 250 percent in the United States from 2016 to 2018, and 355% in Canada during the same time period.

In North America, the CBD discussion is more prominent in some cities than others. Cities located in states with legal recreational marijuana like Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Portland top the discussion. Cities located in states that are facing citizen pressure to legalize recreational marijuana also discuss CBD at high levels, like New York City and Florida.

The CBD discussion leans slightly more male than female. However, compared to the overall marijuana discussion (58 percent male, 42 percent female), it is more gender-balanced.

Most of the population discussing CBD falls into the 35 and above age category. As CBD is widely used for treating conditions like chronic pain, it is unsurprising that CBD appeals to those who are older.

Comparing affinities, those interested in CBD are more invested in fitness and nutrition than the average person discussing marijuana, indicated by strong interests in marathon, nutrition, and running.

Compared to the CBD-discussing population, those discussing marijuana more broadly look to well-known celebrity smokers like Lil Wayne, and also have interests that indicate a younger crowd like high school and Snapchat.


Our analysis shows that there is a large, and growing, market for CBD. In an already rapidly growing marijuana market, the CBD segment is rising the fastest, and it draws more praise from consumers than criticism for its multipurpose uses.

Due to pending marijuana legalization, CBD may exist primarily in the medical realm for now. But with its proven effectiveness in treating a wide range of conditions, and aiding in relaxation, CBD has a bright future.

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