Remember when cannabis had a not-so-healthy image? (Think red eyes and munchies.) Well, those days are fading fast, as the potent plant’s healing powers have started to attract some serious interest from wellness brands in all categories—food, beverage, beauty, and beyond.
You could say that this 2017 wellness trend is lit—and it’s clear why: Although much more research still needs to be done on the health effects of marijuana use, several studies have indicated that extracts from the plant, in particular cannabidiol or CBD, could be a legit remedy for mood disorders, inflammation, chronic pain, and more modern ills. (Here’s a primer on how its compounds help people heal by working with the body’s endocannabinoid system.)
And the excitement around the herb’s health benefits isn’t just buzz either, says Jeffrey Egler, MD, of Parsley Health in Los Angeles. “It’s good science. The numerous benefits have been demonstrated and well-documented for years, if not decades. There’s still the legitimate debate about safety in some circumstances, particularly smoking it. But there are much cleaner products than others, as well as cleaner ways of dosing cannabis.”
So if pot’s healing potential is old news, why is there such a blaze of activity around it at this very moment?
Right now investors are throwing tons of money at the marijuana wellness market, spurred on by eases in drug regulations surrounding the plant.
Right now investors are throwing tons of money at the marijuana wellness market, spurred on by eases in drug regulations surrounding the plant, says Samantha Miller, chief science officer at functional cannabis start-up Hmbldt. (Nine states, including California, have now legalized recreational marijuana; 20 others, New York among them, allow it to be used medicinally.)
The momentum from recent state-level victories—and an influx of, ahem, seed money—is creating a cloud of innovation and growth around cannabis brands that are focused more on the luxury and artisanal segments of the market. (Think soccer moms in California or Colorado who aren’t interested in buying a baggie of Purple Haze, but are looking for a natural way to unwind.)
In fact, support for pot is growing, despite the fact that new Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a hard-line stance against its legalization. Those in the industry, like Miller, are observing what she calls an “increased permission” to partake from consumers thanks to marijuana becoming more mainstream.
“In a way, I almost think it’s becoming trendy to be okay with cannabis,” she says. “Through the elevation of the conversation—with Sanjay Gupta’s pieces on CNN, and Hmbldt making Time magazine’s list of the top inventions of 2016—we’re seeing a reduction in the bias and judgmental discourse around cannabis. More change has happened in the last 18 months than in the previous 25 years.”
In the not-so-distant future, she predicts you’ll be able to buy snacks, beauty products, and medicine containing some strain at places like CVS and Walmart. But until then, there are plenty of new ways to legally explore the benefits of bud for wellness purposes. Now that’s dope.