Marijuana’s lesser-known sister, CBD, is taking the spotlight atop the polished shelves and in colorful containers in beauty stores across the globe.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is derived from hemp, and contains approximately 0.3% of the psychoactive compound in marijuana: THC.
The global market of skincare and beauty products with CBD is predicted to reach $2.22 billion in growth over the next four years, according to a 2021 Technavio report. Mainstream beauty brands have been quick to adopt CBD-saturated oils, creams, and more, as scientists research its potential to treat eczema, psoriasis and dry skin.
“I use an oil that has CBD hemp in it,” said 17-year-old Charlotte Rush, an Oregon native who has been using a CBD face oil for almost a year. “I do a facial massage with it every day. I have noticed that it has helped with inflammation and any redness on my skin. I would highly recommend CBD skincare products for those with acne or scarring.” Rush began using the oil with hopes of it aiding in the healing and the health of her skin, after she received a recommendation from a close friend.
Dr. Susan Beck has helped to formulate beauty and dietary products with CBD for companies including Goop, and Nordic Naturals. She explained that the FDA uses a scale system to categorize the legality of drugs, beginning with schedule one drugs and ending with schedule five.
“Schedule one drugs include heroin and other highly illegal drugs including, up until 2018, marijuana,” said Beck. “In 2018, marijuana was moved into the schedule five category. Due to the fact that marijuana was originally a schedule one drug, very little research was done involving hemp and CBD and regulations still need to be put into place.”
China currently stands as the world’s largest producer of hemp, most of which is exported and used in cosmetic products. However, a statement released in April 2021 by China’s National Institutes for Food and Drug Control revealed drafted legislation that would ban cannabis Sativa seed oil, cannabis Sativa fruit, cannabis Sativa leaf extract and CBD in skincare products.
Despite this potential setback, BDS Analytics has predicted that the market for CBD beauty products will reach approximately $720 million in the year 2021 alone. The forecast predicts a 60% increase from the year 2020, responsible for a mere 10% of the CBD market as a whole, according to Forbes.
Considering that the market is growing so rapidly, the use of CBD in beauty products is not only having an effect on the beauty industry itself but on the stigmas and public perceptions surrounding marijuana products. As CBD products fill the shelves and as marijuana is legalized in more and more states, marijuana arrests still account for over half of all drug arrests in the United States and Black citizens remain 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana, according to the ACLU.
A divisive split has occurred between the two compounds of CBD and THC. While both are originally contained within one single plant, the latter is being sold in luxury cosmetics stores and the criminalization of the former has led to the unequal and unjust incarceration of people of color. The racial inequity of marijuana charges begs the question of if those who are profiting off of the sale of CBD beauty products are considering what they can do for those who bear the brunt of marijuana’s criminalization.