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Customers of CVS Pharmacy now have some new options for over-the-counter pain relief. In mid-March 2019, CVS began rollout out topical cannabidiol (CBD) creams and salves in hundreds of stores across seven states.

CBD, a non-intoxicating compound that can be sourced from hemp plants, is at the center of a rapidly emerging health and wellness trend.

With its latest move, CVS is embracing that trend and catapulting CBD from boutique cosmetic shops and health food stores to the shelves of the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S.

“Anecdotally, we've heard from our customers that these products have helped with pain relief for arthritis and other ailments,” Joseph Goode, senior director of corporate communications for CVS Health, wrote in an email to Weedmaps News.

Photo Courtesy of CVS

With a New York investment bank forecasting that the U.S. CBD market to top $16 billion by 2025, major health retailers are keeping a close eye on consumer trends. And while the growing popularity of cannabidiol is certainly a factor in CVS' decision to carry CBD, the company says input from customers also helped prompt the change.

Third-Party Tests Will Verify CBD Quality

Along with CBD's meteoric rise in mainstream popularity, experts have been concerned by the wide availability of unregulated, untested CBD products. CVS is partnering with Eurofins labs to ensure products are labeled with accurate CBD content, screened for contaminants, and limited to below the legal threshold of 0.3 percent THC. “Only products passing these independent tests are offered for sale in our stores,” Goode told Weedmaps News.

Now that hemp is no longer a controlled substance under federal law, companies have more latitude to source and offer CBD products to customers. However, state and federal policies regarding hemp and hemp production are still out of step in many places, so CVS is moving slowly with its rollout.

Initially, the pharmacy chain will only offer topical CBD products including creams, salves, sprays, lotions, and roll-ons. CVS won't offer other popular forms of CBD, such as oils, tinctures, or other ingestibles — at least not yet.

Photo via Gina Coleman/Weedmaps News

“We continue to actively monitor the regulatory landscape for CBD products and will expand product availability as appropriate and in compliance with applicable laws,” Mike DeAngelis, senior director of corporate communications for CVS Health, wrote Weedmaps News in an email.

CVS' initial offering will actually cover just seven states:

The CVS representative said it considered including Alabama among its markets. “Pending further review, Alabama is no longer included in the rollout,” DeAngelis said.

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