Have you noticed that the legalized cannabis industry is steadily becoming more mainstream? Perhaps you’ve seen an advertisement in your local pharmacy or browsed the explosion of herbal remedies on a high street store. From oil and creams to gummies and vitamins, since it was de-classified last year in the UK the CBD market has exploded. Thanks to high profile cases such as Billy Caldwell, the 13-year old boy who needed cannabis oil to control his seizures, there are many online and local retailers that sell the extract legally, as long as the dosage is under 0.2% and does not contain any of the mind-bending properties that the drug is known for.
It’s a little harder to tell from the viewpoint of the casual consumer, but the CBD industry is increasingly being shaped by figures from another field: cryptocurrency. Although one centers around plant-based supplements and the other focuses on decentralized digital ledgers, there are still more similarities and synergies between entrepreneurs in these fields than you might think. Indeed, Bloomberg called the industries the two perfect post-crisis bubbles.
It’s no surprise that the same kind of people who are attracted to the crypto market are also drawn to the CBD market, fighting an uphill battle against confusion and hysteria is a transferable skill set after all. AJ Agrawal is an example of the crypto/CBD entrepreneur, he is the founder of crypto marketing company Verma Media and fast growing CBD oil company, Verma Farms. Well known in the crypto world for the amount of companies it has helped, in the last two years Verma Media has worked with over 80 crypto companies in 2018. Now, intrigued by the same amount of noise that arrived with blockchain, Agrawal sees his creation of Verma Farms as a natural crossover from crypto to CBD.
In this he is not alone. Rapid market growth means that more CBD companies are popping up every day— a phenomenon that will feel familiar to anyone who’s spent time in crypto over the past two years. In both industries, companies have to genuinely differentiate themselves from their competitors to stand out. With knowledge of the industry, Verma Farms has gone for a organic, all-natural ingredient standpoint as they understand that customers are increasingly weary of something so new to market— just like blockchain.
The relationship between humans and cannabidiol is an ancient one but that doesn’t mean the CBD boom can’t bring plenty of innovation and fresh thinking with it. New interest from the world of blockchain is just one of the factors bringing change and growth to the CBD market.
CBD: primed for growth
Right now the CBD market is exploding. Industry analysts Brightfield Group predict that it will be worth $22 billion by 2020, outpacing all other cannabis markets. Increased cannabis legalization is a major factor behind CBD’s growth. Over in the U.S. thirty-three states have legalized recreational or medical cannabis use, and the 2018 Farm Bill removed CBD and other low-THC cannabis products from the federal Controlled Substances Act. As CBD becomes easier to acquire, more people are discovering its unique qualities.
CBD doesn’t generate a high, mainly because the ingredient (THC) that can produce the effect of feeling a high is not included— so what does it do? While CBD’s legal history means that formal scientific study of its benefits are still underway, early findings have tied it to an array of health and wellness benefits, from treating anxiety and depression to lessening seizures in epileptic children.
CBD and crypto
The relationship between Silicon Valley, the center of the crypto universe, and wellness has always been complicated. The world of health startups is booming, as entrepreneurs search for new ways to improve worldwide healthcare systems with technology. But the culture of Silicon Valley itself has been described as a “pressure cooker” where overwork, stress, and burnout are common.
That may go a long way towards explaining why crypto entrepreneurs are flocking to CBD (take a look at Reddit to understand just how popular these forums are). Of course, a fair number have witnessed first-hand both the consequences of stress and anxiety and the benefits of treating it. But there are many other parallels in play, too. Tragedies such as the opioid epidemic have damaged trust in the business-as-usual pharmaceutical industry—and plant-based wellness supplements such as CBD represent the same “outside the box” approach to wellness that’s led so many successful crypto and tech startups to thrive using innovative business models in untapped markets.
Crypto, like CBD, has experienced rapid image evolution. Bitcoin used to be a fringe payment tool for cypherpunks and drug dealers, but now leaders at Morgan Stanley, Nasdaq, and Fidelity are crypto players–a narrative that parallels CBD’s growing mainstream appeal. Both industries have wrestled with regulators trying to understand a rapidly expanding field. Thanks to a new low level legality in the U.K. and CBD’s removal from the Controlled Substances Act in the U.S. it parallels SEC officials’ recent declaration that Bitcoin and ether are non-securities cryptos, paving the way for other blockchain companies to market platform-based tokens while staying compliant with finance law.