cbd hero

Rethinking the CBD Mix

A wider range of products offers opportunities for retail pharmacies.

In recent years, cannabidiol, a compound derived from a cannabis sativa plant (typically hemp), has been showing up in products ranging from skin care creams to sleep aids. According to a 2022 New York-based Market Research Future report, the global CBD market was valued at $9.1 billion in 2021.

But makers of CBD-containing products now find themselves “in a U.S. regulatory limbo” regarding product claims, Bloomberg noted in a Jan. 3 newsletter, and the FDA has issued a number of warnings to CBD brands making unproven claims. As a result, U.S. sales have slowed, and some brands have opted to drop the ingredient.

As it stands, most drug stores carry only topical CBD-containing products, noted John McDonagh, president and CEO of Conshohocken, Pa.-based NextEvo Naturals. 

It’s understandable that drug stores are hesitant to carry edible CBD products, as FDA recently said CBD-containing products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition. In a Jan. 23 statement, the agency also said it concluded, after careful review, “that a new regulatory pathway for CBD is needed that balances individuals’ desire for access to CBD products with the regulatory oversight needed to manage risks.” FDA also said it is prepared to work with Congress on the matter.

Drug stores will want to take care, however, when adding any CBD-containing items to the product mix. They should understand the dos and don’ts of product claims.
cbd topical web

Plenty of Potential

On the plus side, CBD offers a number of growth opportunities for drug stores. Topical skin care applications might be the most significant of them. In fact, a 2022 report from San Francisco-based  Grand View Research Inc. forecasts that the global CBD skin care market size will reach $8.6 billion by 2030.

“Since CBD is a potent antioxidant preventing skin aging and wrinkles, it can protect the skin against free radical damage caused by environmental factors such as excessive exposure to sunlight,” the website says.

McDonagh believes skin care could be an emerging CBD space over the next two to three years. 

“We’ve just launched our NextEvo Naturals Body Recovery Cream, which is one of the highest levels of CBD topicals available—formulated at a 1% CBD concentration versus others which are only 0.25% or 0.50%,” he noted. “It is further differentiated, as we created a special formula to help the CBD penetrate deeply into the skin and have generated data to support our claims.” 

Despite the hesitation on drug stores’ part to offer ingestible CBD products for pain relief, sleep assistance and more, high consumer interest might justify a change of heart—at least when it comes to the states in which such products are legal. Joseph Dowling, CEO of San Diego-based CV Sciences Inc., said drug stores are underperforming in the CBD category by failing to provide a complete product range that includes edible products. 

“Drug store retailer merchandising of CBD products is also a problem,” Dowling added. “CBD products are often kept under lock and key, where retailers are wary to cross-merchandise them with other related and competing products.”

“Since CBD is a potent antioxidant preventing skin aging and wrinkles, it can protect the skin against free radical damage caused by environmental factors such as excessive exposure to sunlight.”
cbd teaser

On the edibles front, CV Sciences recently introduced +PlusCBD Reserve Collection softgels formulated with “a full spectrum of cannabinoids” to meet consumer need states, Dowling said. 

“Much of our feedback has said that these softgels have become a favorite alternative to Advil or other NSAID pain-relief options,” he explained. “CV Sciences is constantly looking at co-ingredients that support and enhance positive outcomes for consumers.”

Charlotte’s Web also has been very active in the CBD edibles space. One of the latest offerings from the Louisville, Colo.-based company is Charlotte’s Web Sport—Daily Edge, the first broad-spectrum hemp-derived tincture to be Certified for Sport by public health and safety organization NSF. To celebrate the launch, Charlotte’s Web entered into a partnership with Major League Baseball, said Michelle Flegel, president of sales.

“Leveraging Charlotte’s Web’s scientific research, Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Certified B Corp principles, Daily Edge underwent strict independent testing to uniquely meet MLB’s scientific benchmarks and no-banned substances policy,” she said.

Retailers Beware

However, drug stores will want to take care when adding any CBD-containing items to the product mix. They should understand the dos and don’ts of product claims. For example, brands claiming topical CBD products work on arthritis or muscle pain are at risk for FDA action, McDonagh pointed out.

“It is unlikely that CBD penetrates deep enough through the skin to have any effect since it’s a lipophilic molecule, and most current manufacturers don’t have any evidence to support such claims,” McDonagh said. 

Brands—and retailers—also should stay clear of disease claims related to CBD products.

“A trusted CBD manufacturer will provide the right educational tools to support a drug store team on how to communicate the benefits of CBD,” Flegel said.

And to determine which CBD manufacturers can be trusted, drug stores must do their homework.

“Buyers can protect themselves by researching reviews and claims made by brands before stocking their shelves,” Dowling said. “In doing so, buyers also protect their consumers from lower-quality products that make unrealistic claims, setting them up for disappointment and skepticism toward CBD products.”

Product Picks

Martha Stewart CBD Tropical Medley Wellness Gummies
SRP: $34.99/30-ct.
Martha Stewart CBD, a brand of Smith Falls, Ontario-based Canopy Growth, added Tropical Medley CBD Wellness Gummies to its CMD gummies lineup. The line includes three flavors inspired by the lush fruits of tropical destinations: Alphonso Mango, Coconut and Pineapple. Each gummy features 10 mg of CBD isolate. The products are available in 30-ct., 10-ct. and three-count packages. 

Thistle Farms CBD Body-Care Products
SRP: $20 (2.5-oz. body balm)/$35 (bath soak)
Thistle Farms, a Nashville, Tenn.-based nonprofit social enterprise serving women survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction, added two CBD body-care products. A new CBD-based high-impact body balm is designed to deliver targeted relief for aching muscles. The balm is scented with the company’s signature Calm essential oil blend and comes in 0.9-oz. and 2.5-oz. containers. Also new is an 8-oz. bath soak.

CBDistillery Microdose Synergy+ THC & CBD line
SRP: Unknown
CBDistillery is introducing its Microdose Synergy+ THC & CBD line, which includes tincture and soft gel products. Microdosing, at its base level, is “taking a small enough dose of a potentially intoxicating substance to experience its benefits without the feeling of intoxication,” CBDistillery said.

Each serving of Microdose Synergy+ features 1 mg of THC and 30 mg of CBD that "work in harmony to nourish and support your mind and body for optimal health and wellness,” the company said.

CV Sciences +PlusCBD Daily Balance THC Free line
SRP: Unknown
CV Sciences said its +PlusCBD Daily Balance THC-Free Gummies and Softgels offer a daily-use supplement that provides the wellness benefits of CBD without THC and other cannabinoids, the company said.  The brand said the products are perfect for traditional supplement users who are active and on the go, along with everyday heroes like first responders, teachers and military personnel. Each is made with CV Sciences’ 99.9% pure CBD isolate, crafted in concentrations that seek to help consumers overcome intense challenges to their everyday mental and physical well-being.