Who is Using CBD? A Look at CBD Statistics

Who is Using CBD? A Look at CBD Statistics

There’s lots of talk out there about a little something called CBD. In recent years, the market for the cannabis-derived compound has exploded and is set to reach almost $17 billion by 2025. Scientists are currently studying its possible uses, and consumers (both literally and figuratively) are snapping it up and trying it out.

There’s quite a bit of positive evidence piling up for CBD benefits, but while scientists continue to science their way through the whats and whys and wherefores of CBD oil, the current lack of large-scale empirical evidence doesn’t stop people from buying in. For CBD companies, business is good.

In 2019, the hemp-derived CBD market in the U.S. hit $4.2 billion. So someone’s buying it. Colloquial evidence suggests that there’s at least something to it, or the whole market would just collapse, right? So who’s using it? Let’s take a dive into CBD demographics.

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Why Are People Using CBD?

A 2017 study conducted by Brightfield Group and HelloMD looked at 2,400 members of the HelloMD community to determine how they were using CBD and the effects it was having on them. HelloMD is an online community that brings cannabis patients and doctors together to discuss cannabis issues. Brightfield Group studies consumption trends and demand inside the cannabis industry and is committed to providing the most accurate data available.

That survey revealed that concerns about irregular sleep, with mental well being and physical discomfort as the most common reasons those surveyed were using CBD.

More recently, in April 2019, a CBD survey by Quartz with Harris Poll found similar patterns. Relaxation and stress relief were cited by more than half of CBD users, with sleep irregularities not far behind. Over a third had tried it for physical discomfort, while smaller numbers cited various other reasons (13 percent said “spiritual use”; make of that what you will).

However, there was one interesting difference between the two surveys: While Brightfield/HelloMD found that a slight majority of CBD users were female, Quartz/Harris found that men were more likely to have both tried CBD and to be using it regularly.

This could come from differences in the studies’ methodology, but it might also reflect a real shift from 2017 to 2019. As CBD has gone more mainstream, it’s also picked up many athlete endorsements, which might have caught the attention of the Y chromosome crowd.

A group of older people hold weights as they workout and a dark skinned man with white hair stands in the front with a yellow shirt

What Types Of People Are Using CBD?

A January 2019 Consumer Reports survey looked at CBD usage across the U.S. They asked 4,000 people from a nationally representative cross-section about CBD. The study found that more than a quarter of people in the U.S. have tried CBD at some point, with one in seven of those people saying they use it every day.

People using CBD demonstrate a wide age range. It’s most popular among those in their 20s, with 40 percent saying they’ve tried it. However, 15 percent of people over 60 have also tried it. So, it looks as though it takes all kinds.

Millennials, at 32 percent of those surveyed, used CBD for stress, while 42 percent of Boomers used it to support joint health.

Remember, folks, CBD is not currently an FDA-approved treatment for any of these problems, so definitely talk to your doctor before using CBD. But the results do present some intriguing evidence for CBD oil benefits.

The Brightfield/HelloMD survey also dug into the income, education, and ethnicity of CBD users and found them to be quite a diverse group on those fronts. African Americans were somewhat scarce (5 percent vs. 13 percent for the U.S. as a whole), though that may reflect a geographic factor that all the surveys noticed. People in the western states are far more likely to be using CBD than elsewhere, probably because of their history of looser cannabis laws, and those states have a different ethnic mix than other parts of the country.

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How Have the Events of 2020 Affected CBD Use?

All this CBD research was done before the events of 2020 came along and upended everything. But in an August 2020 update, Brightfield noted some negative effects for the CBD industry.

For one, the Food and Drug Administration has been tied up in other matters, so the hoped-for clarifying of CBD regulations isn’t happening this year. And Brightfield’s projection of $17 billion in U.S. CBD sales by 2025 is actually scaled back from even more ambitious forecasts it gave last year, presumably because of the economic crunch.

But actual CBD use doesn’t seem to be taking much of a hit. In fact, about 40 percent of the CBD users Brightfield surveyed said they were using more CBD and spending more money on it, in response to this year's stresses. Again, the younger crowd was leading the way: some 52 percent of millennial users said they were spending more on CBD.

The main change in spending habits, not surprisingly, was that people were buying more of their CBD online. Nearly half of respondents, and more than half of millennials, said they’d shifted to online CBD shopping and away from brick and mortar outlets.

A dropper full of cbd oil sits upright in a pile of cbd oil capsules

Everyone’s Doing It

When you look at all these CBD statistics, it seems that the answer to the question of who’s using CBD is everyone. There doesn’t appear to be an age group, gender, or walk of life that isn’t interested in exploring what CBD may have to offer. Until we have unquestionable scientific evidence of how CBD does what it does, people will continue to depend on word of mouth, and it looks like that word is good.