A recent survey conducted by the reputable polling firm Gallup has found some surprising new information regarding CBD use among the general public. Many public health officials who track population-level use of substances have known for years that CBD use has been increasing, but few understood the extent to which Americans have adopted this health-promoting compound as part of their lifestyle.
The Gallup survey found that 14%, or 1 in 7, Americans regularly use CBD for a variety of health reasons.
Here are the details of that survey and what it means for CBD moving forward.
What Has Caused the Increase in Use?
Federal law has been an obstacle to finding and using CBD for years. Because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug per the 1970 Narcotics Act signed by Richard Nixon, all products derived from cannabis were supposedly empty of any medical use at all and, therefore, banned completely. However, the 2018 Farm Bill breathed life into the CBD industry by lifting the burdensome regulations around hemp products other than the THC-containing buds. This essentially legalized CBD and the economy responded by dumping huge sums of money into the industry – leading to the massive growth that we’ve seen in the last two years.
Aside from legalization, the medical benefits of CBD have been more thoroughly tested and confirmed by science. Every month there is a new landmark study into the potent physiological effects of the compound on sleep, anxiety, chronic pain, depression, and more.
What Are So Many People Using CBD For?
The most natural question is: why are so many people using CBD? The survey also asked this question with perhaps unsurprising results – the vast majority of users were interested in relieving some chronic health conditions that other medications had failed to treat.
Of the respondents who reported regularly using CBD, 40% of them said that they use the compound for chronic pain. 20% said they use it to treat anxiety. 11% used it to help them sleep better. 8% used it to treat migraines. 5% used it for arthritis. Other reasons for regularly taking CBD included depression, general wellness, neurological disorders, inflammation, and others. Some even gave it to their pets.
The female respondents used CBD more often to treat anxiety, whereas the male respondents used it more to help them sleep.
CBD Usage by Region
The survey also broke down CBD usage by region. Unsurprisingly, the highest percentage of a regional population that used CBD was the West, where medical cannabis got its start with the passage of legalized medical marijuana by the California assembly in 1996.
21% of people in the West said they use CBD regularly, compared to only 11% in the East and Midwest reporting the same usage. Interestingly, the South had a higher percentage of the population that regularly uses CBD with 13% of respondents saying that they include it in their supplement routine.
Usage by Age
Survey conductors were also interested in CBD usage broken down by age. It will shock no one that the younger generations surveyed were more likely to use the compound with 22% saying they use it regularly. On the other end of the age spectrum, only 8% of respondents 65 and older said that they use CBD. Most had never heard of it.
Sorting through this data, the natural question of why use differs across age and geographic area arises.
Concerning age, there are several important factors. First, many older adults in the 65+ age bracket lived through the Reefer Madness propaganda campaigns of the 1950s and they all lived through the Reagan-era D.A.R.E. campaigns that promoted a lifelong commitment to strict anti-drug use. They are more likely to group marijuana together in the same category as other illicit drugs with limited or no medical applications such as heroin or cocaine. Hence, they are more hesitant to experiment despite the medical evidence that mounts in favor of CBD as therapy.
As CBD enters the mainstream, we will likely see the disparity of use among different groups shrink while we can expect the overall percentage of the population using CBD to either hold steady or increase as the industry further develops.