Dive Brief:

  • Walgreens “will be offering certain products containing Cannabidiol (CBD) in nearly 1,500 Walgreens stores in select states (OR, CO, NM, KY, TN, VT, SC, IL and IN),” the drugstore retailer told Retail Dive in an email Thursday, following a report on the effort from CNBC. “The CBD-related items we are planning to carry are non-THC containing topical creams, patches and sprays,” according to a company spokesperson. “This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers.”
  • The news comes just after CVS said it started selling CBD products, also in about 1,500 stores, in some of the same states (California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee), a CVS spokesperson told Retail Dive this week.
  • CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabis ingredient that was decriminalized late last year by the U.S. government, is poised to grab some $4.3 billion in the consumer products market, according to information sent to Retail Dive from Nielsen, which recently partnered with cannabis analytics firm Headset in tracking the sector. Market research firm Brightfield Group projects that CBD product sales will reach $22 billion by 2022.

Dive Insight:

As American consumers register a high level of interest in the increasingly decriminalized cannabis market, CBD products have emerged as a seemingly innocuous and potentially helpful way to experiment — and mainstream brands and retailers want in.

Walgreens is just the latest to report that it will offer CBD-infused products, which tend to be topical creams with vague wellness promises. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has already warned the makers and sellers of CBD products to steer clear of making overt health claims.

Authentic Brands GroupFree PeopleNeiman MarcusBarneysDSW and Sephora are also selling CBD products. Canadian cannabis company Green Growth Brands recently inked deals with several American malls to establish its Seventh Sense CBD Shops nationwide, and on Thursday announced its first opening in Milwaukee.

“The floodgates are opening right now for CBD products, with more and more chained retailers beginning to stock the products. Since the Farm Bill passed, we have been seeing smaller and mid-sized chains begin listing the products but the announcements from CVS and Walgreens are seen as a tipping point, where now most of the larger chains of retailers in the grocery, pharmacy and convenience store channels will begin listing the products,” Brightfield Group managing director Bethany Gomez told Retail Dive in an email. “Topicals are viewed as a lower risk level than ingestible products, and is expected to quickly overtake tinctures as the dominant CBD product type.”

The FDA seems poised to get active around such moves, however, and soon, according to Gomez. “The FDA announced earlier this year that it ‘heard Congress loud and clear’ that they want there to be a pathway for commercialization of CBD and have scheduled a public hearing on the subject for April.”