The next time you stroll down the brightly lit aisles of your local CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid, you might notice a few product labels sporting a friendly green hemp plant and three bold letters that read: CBD.
As cannabis continues to interject itself into the global health and wellness market, some of the country's largest pharmacy chains have suddenly come down with the contagious CBD fever.
The widespread adoption of cannabidiol (CBD) products by national drugstore chains happened swiftly, almost as if it were synchronized. In the span of a single month, CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid all announced that CBD-infused products would be available at select locations.
CVS was the first drugstore franchise to offer CBD-infused creams and salves in mid-March 2019, followed by Walgreens rolling out products in nearly 1,500 stores across nine states in March 28, 2019. Rite Aid trailed close behind its two competitors, as CBD products hit shelves in more than 200 Oregon and Washington storefronts within the following month.
Why Drugstore Chains are Selling CBD
The pharmacy chains' recent decision to start selling CBD-infused products follows the growing number of nationally recognized storefronts offering this non-intoxicating cannabinoid to customers. The CBD wave has already washed over the shores of many renowned businesses, from the aisles of the organic grocery chain Whole Foods to having its very own product category on Neiman Marcus' website.
So why have CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid suddenly all started to succumb to the CBD craze at the same time? A large part of that answer, as per usual in these free-market decisions, appears to be customer demand. Joe Goode, a spokesperson for CVS Health, suggested that the wants and needs of consumers were a compelling reason to enter the CBD market.
“CBD is gaining popularity among consumers, particularly those looking for alternative care products,” Goode said in a statement to Weedmaps News.
Potential revenue likely also played a significant role in the trio's decision to stock CBD-infused goods. The burgeoning market for CBD products is still largely untapped, but is already growing at a rapid rate, expected to exceed $16 billion by 2025, according to an analysis by Cowen & Co. published on Feb. 25, 2019. That same report included a consumer survey involving 2,500 participants, which found that 6.9% of adults are already using CBD as a supplement.
Combine that with the potential of the natural and organic personal care products, which was valued at more than $12 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $29.5 billion by 2028, according to Persistence Market Research, and you've got yourself a perfect recipe for revenue.
What Kind of CBD Products Will You Find?
Aside from offering a diverse spectrum of prescription medication, the drugstore franchises are also known for having expansive aisles stocked with health and wellness products. Some of the CBD-infused products that these drugstore chains will offer are similar to those that you'd already expect to find – including creams, topicals, ointments, and sprays. The primary difference is the addition of hemp-derived CBD, an ingredient which is intended to enhance the therapeutic properties of these naturally soothing products.
“Anecdotally, we've heard from our customers that these products have helped with pain relief for arthritis and other ailments, and we believe consumers will be looking for these products as part of their health offering,” Goode said in the statement.
You won't find CBD-infused products in every product of your local CVS, Walgreen, or Rite Aid. Initially, at least, the scope of these CBD products will be limited to health and wellness products. For the time being, these pharmacy chains will not sell CBD products in the form of oils, tinctures, or other ingestibles.
While hemp-derived CBD was legalized under the Farm Bill on Dec. 20, 2018, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stated that, until regulations are put into place, it's technically illegal to add the non-intoxicating cannabinoid to food, drinks, and dietary supplements.
Where Will CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid Sell CBD Products?
If you live in one of the following states where CBD products will be sold, here's what you can expect to find on the shelves of each chain:
Select CVS stores are selling CBD-infused creams, sprays, roll-ons, lotions, and salves. Edibles and supplements will not be stocked in the store.
“We are not selling any CBD-containing supplements or food additives. We are working with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS's high standards for quality,” Goode said in the statement.
CBD products will be sold at CVS Pharmacies in the following eight states, as of April 19, 2019:
In nearly 15,000 Walgreens stores across nine states, shoppers will find CBD patches, sprays, and creams in nine states. “The CBD-related items we are planning to carry are non-THC containing topical creams, patches, and sprays. This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers,” a spokesperson from Walgreens said in a statement to Weedmaps News.
Walgreens will offer CBD products in the following nine states, as of April 19, 2019:
CBD products are sold in more than 200 Rite Aid stores in Oregon and Washington as of April 19, 2019.
What to Expect in the Future?
As the FDA develops regulations for CBD and the stigma surrounding cannabis continues to dissipate, the variety CBD products at CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid could increase in the near future.
“We're entering slowly into this new category, and continue to actively monitor the regulatory landscape for CBD products and will expand product availability as appropriate and in compliance with applicable laws,” Goode said in a statement.
Despite the measured and restrictive approach that these nationally recognized convenience chains are taking, the recent string of announcements could indicate a lucrative relationship between CBD and these major drugstore chains. While the new products being offered at these drugstore chains are currently limited to select areas, an expansion into more states might follow as the demand for CBD grows.
Feature image: CVS Health, the largest operator of pharmacies in the U.S., with more than 9,800 locations, was the first of the three major U.S. drugstore chains to announce it is carrying products with cannabidiol (CBD). It has rolled out CBD products in eight states. (Photo by Jordan Lomibao via Unsplash)