CBD – what’s it all about?

Antony Begley

Our cover story this month is an interesting one. Granted, we try to make all our cover stories interesting, but this one is special because it highlights an opportunity that as far as I can make out is going largely unnoticed by local retailers in Scotland.

Talk to most retailers about CBD and the response is either ‘What?’ or ‘Is that the legalised cannabis stuff?’ Or words to that effect. Which is strange, given that in the United States it’s becoming a gargantuan category and even down south there is some real momentum building.

First, the basic facts. CBD is an acronym of sorts for cannabidiol, one of the very many cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant. Of these cannabinoids, only two are worth talking about here. The second one, and that one that may be more familiar, is tetrahydrocannabinol – or THC as it’s better known. As any good stoner will tell you, THC is the stuff that gets you high. By law, CBD products on sale in the UK are not allowed to contain THC or, to be more precise, they must contain no more than 0.2% TCH. In other words, and to answer the most frequently asked question: no, CBD won’t get you high.

But this fact is far from common knowledge and perhaps underpins the reluctance of the local retailing sector to embrace the category. In fact, if you talk to CBD brands like Hamilton-based Hope CBD (who happen to sponsor the stadium of my beloved Hamilton Accies), they tell you that the vast majority of their customers are people with inflammation-based pain such as fibromyalgia, arthritis and multiple sclerosis.

Indeed, Hamilton Accies Chief Executive Colin McGowan, a director of Hope, has taken a lot of ill-informed flak over the renaming of the stadium from people concerned that the club is promoting drug abuse. McGowan’s wife happens to suffer from fibromyalgia and saw her life transformed after starting to treat it with CBD, hence his bold decision to brave the public ordeal in order to get the CBD message out.

Don’t forget too that Holland & Barratt was the first major retailer to start selling CBD over the counter, and they did that over a year ago. While CBD producers are prohibited from claiming that CBD will help treat inflammation-based ailments, a quick internet search will tell you all you need to know about how effective many people find CBD to be in managing chronic pain. Anecdotally, there also appears to be a growing use of CBD to treat anxiety and depression, as well as epilepsy.

Now that we’ve got all that straight, it’s time to get down to business. And there is a very good chance that CBD will be big business over the next few years. CBD lines typically retail at anything from £30 to over £100 and the margins are exceptional. They also tend to benefit from extreme customer loyalty. Over 600 companies with ‘CBD’ in the title have been registered at Companies House this year alone. This market is not going away any time soon. The time to embrace it is now.

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Antony Begley, Publishing Director