CVS and Walgreens announced they’ll be selling products containing CBD. So what the heck is CBD? What’s up with CBD from hemp and marijuana, what it does, and what to know before you buy it at your local drugstore. We take a look at why CVS is now carrying CBD products, and which brands this massive pharmacy chain will be stocking. Here's all you need to know.
What to Know About the CBD at Your CVS
What it is, what it does, and what to know before you buy.
CVS and Walgreens announced they’re going to sell products containing CBD, best known as the component of marijuana that won’t make you high, in certain stores. CVS is currently selling CBD topicals—creams, sprays, and lotions—in eight states. Walgreens announced its intention to sell CBD products days later, but “isn’t sharing additional details at this time,” according to a spokesperson.
If CBD hadn’t already reached fever pitch, with products like CBD-containing gummies, beer, coffee, eye creams, and even (no kidding) suppositories flooding the market, this announcement legitimizes the compound further.
But market share and the veneer of legitimacy doesn’t mean there’s a lot of clarity around the stuff. Here’s what to know about CBD before you buy:
More From Men’s Health
The CBD in CVS is derived from hemp, not from marijuana
To the government, that makes a difference—the rules governing the growing and selling of marijuana are much stricter than those governing hemp (although hemp’s are still pretty murky). To your body, where it was derived doesn’t make a difference at all. “CBD is a molecule and is the same regardless of whether it is derived from cannabis or hemp or synthesized in a lab,” says David J. Grelotti, M.D., medical director of the University of California Center for Medical Cannabis Research, based at UC San Diego.
Products touting “hemp” on the label may contain CBD. But might not
Plenty of stores sell products containing hemp, but there’s no guarantee it contains CBD. “You see a lot of business not using CBD on their labels in favor of the word ‘hemp,’” says Ricardo Baca, the former “cannabis editor” for The Denver Post, now in the thick of regulatory challenges and changes as founder of the PR firm Grasslands. “I think it’s in an effort to hope it attracts less regulatory oversight. There’s a feeling that the FDA is very much looking at these product labels.” Baca also points out “a lot of the hemp grown and used for products sold on the unregulated market are coming from hemp cultivated in countries that have even less strict regulations.” So it may contain pesticides or other impurities. To protect yourself from this, “choose products sourced from domestically-grown hemp,” he says.
Right now, we know CBD is good for…sales?
The CBD market is predicted to grow to $22 billion by 2022—because or in spite of definitive evidence that CBD has a positive effect on your health. There’s a lot of “sciency noise” around CBD, says Timothy Caulfield, research director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta and author of The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness. The World Health Organization says that when it comes to CBD, “for most indications there is only pre-clinical evidence.”
Marty Munson, currently the health director of Men’s Health, has been a health editor at properties including Marie Claire, Prevention, Shape and RealAge. She’s also certified as a swim and triathlon coach.
CVS Stores Start Carrying CBD? [All Need to Know]
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CVS Health Corporation is one of the world’s largest retail pharmacies and health care companies with over $180 billion in annual revenue. It was only a matter of time before the corporate giant got involved in CBD, and it now stocks CBD topicals in at least eight of its American stores.
Jumping on the CBD Bandwagon
Soon after CVS’ announcement, one of its main rivals, Walgreens, also stated its intention to sell CBD products in its stores. This is a sure sign that CBD has entered the mainstream, just a few years after it was dismissed as nothing more than a fad and a novelty item.
Like Walgreens, CVS is somewhat cautious in its initial foray into the CBD sphere. It has over 10,000 locations in the U.S. alone, but in 2019 the company announced CBD would only be available from a relatively small percentage of CVS stores in the following eight states: Illinois, Colorado, Alabama, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, and Indiana. It is also important to note that neither edibles nor CBD-derived supplements will be available. However, customers can purchase lotions, roll-ons, sprays, salves, and creams.
In many ways, it is not a surprise that major pharmacies are getting involved in CBD. At the end of 2018, the Farm Bill made it legal for Americans to grow and sell industrial hemp. Since CBD can be extracted from hemp, it is easier than ever for suppliers to get hold of premium-grade cannabidiol. The CBD market itself could be worth as much as $22 billion within three years. CVS has joined other renowned health and beauty companies such as DSW, Free People, Authentic Brands Group, Neiman Marcus, and Sephora, all of whom have become involved in CBD.
What CBD Brands Are CVS Selling?
Elevate CBD is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the news as the firm’s CBD-infused pain relief cream will be sold in over 1,500 CVS stores. The brand specializes in full-spectrum, lab-tested, and supposedly, ethically-sourced hemp products.
The cream is full-spectrum, which means it contains several cannabinoids, including CBD, but crucially, it contains less than 0.3% THC, the maximum legal limit. Each 4oz tub contains 140mg of cannabinoids and is available for $39.99. It is designed for pain relief, and proponents say it does an excellent job of treating their aching muscles and joint pain. Buyers can choose between two varieties: cooling and warming cream.
Medterrais another big winner, as CVS announced that it would be selling the California-based brand’s topical cooling cream. The cooling cream that will be available in CVS is a combination of CBD and other certified organic ingredients. The brand claims that its cream provides users with a cooling feeling, making it ideal for sore joints and muscles.
There are well over 20 ingredients in the cream, including sunflower seed oil, cetyl alcohol, grapefruit seed extract, xanthan gum, and Arnica flower oil. According to Medterra, the cream contains 99.6% pure CBD. Choose between the 250mg tub for $49.95 or the 750mg tub for $89.95.
Social is another CBD-based company that has significantly benefited from CVS’s decision to sell CBD topical creams. SocialCBD Muscle Rub 3-ounce cream ($29.99) is designed to provide fast and effective relief for muscle aches and pains.
The product contains a proprietary herbal blend, which is infused with menthol and CBD. Each 3-ounce tube of Social CBD muscle rub cream contains at least 250mg of hemp-derived CBD.
CVS Pharmacy explicitly states on its website that state restrictions apply to Select’s CBD Muscle Rub cream. It is essential to bear this in mind before purchasing this product.
Sagely Naturals also have several CBD-based products which are available to purchase in select CVS stores and via their website. The CBD-based company was founded in 2015 by Kerrigan Behrens and Kaley Nichol. According to Forbes magazine, Sagely Naturals is the largest female-founded company in the CBD market today.
Working in collaboration with chemists and naturopaths, Sagely Naturals began formulating broad-spectrum CBD-based products coupled with potent botanicals. All of Sagely Naturals’ products are derived from organically-grown, non-GMO hemp and contain less than 0.0025% THC. Each product is then quadruple-tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure the highest quality and purity standard.
One of Sagely Naturals products available to purchase from CVS is their Relief & Recovery CBD Cream. It is available in a 2fl ounce ($19.99) and a 4fl ounce ($35.99) bottle. Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery CBD Cream contains the company’s proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients and broad-spectrum CBD. This topical cream is designed to provide cooling relief and deep nourishment to the skin. The 2fl ounce bottle contains 25mg CBD, and the 4fl ounce contains 50mg CBD.
CVS selling CBD products is a great example of how popular the industry has become in a few short years.
CVS also sells Sagely Naturals Calm & Centered Cream. According to Sagely Naturals, this topical cream is designed to facilitate a sense of wakeful calm. The formula also contains Sagely Naturals proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients and broad-spectrum CBD. Plus, Sagely Naturals Calm & Centred Cream is packed with essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, and chamomile. It is available in a 4fl ounce bottle and contains 50mg CBD. Sagely Naturals Calm & Centered Cream 4fl ounce is priced at $35.99.
Also available via select CVS stores and the CVS website is Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery CBD Spray. It comes in a conveniently sized 2-ounce bottle and is priced at $27.99. The 2-ounce bottle contains 50mg CBD and is infused with essential oils such as menthol, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus. According to Sagely Naturals, their Relief & Recovery CBD Spray is a quick-drying pick-me-up for easy use on the go.
Overall, CVS carrying CBD products is yet another boon for an industry that appears to have great momentum. Having colossal corporations such as Walgreens and CVS throwing their weight behind CBD has helped the industry move forward.
CVS is a brand that takes pride in its status as a health care heavyweight. In 2014, it was the first national pharmacy to stop selling tobacco products. And its latest venture could provide the seal of approval that the industry desperately needs. Of course, the impact that CVS and other industry giants may have on smaller independent CBD brands is yet to be seen. For the few companies that actually make it into CVS stores, the business will, of course, be great. For some of the others, perhaps not so much.