Retailers across Canada are struggling with a shortage of all cannabis, but there's one product they're especially desperate to keep on shelves: cannabidiol or CBD, a non-intoxicating extract vaunted for its purported health benefits.
The extract, most commonly sold as oil, has been promoted as a natural cure for pain, anxiety and insomnia, despite limited medical research. Many customers are coming in asking for it, especially first-time and older users, store owners say.
“I don't think the licensed producers really realized how popular CBD was, so there's none available, really,” said Krystian Wetulani, founder of City Cannabis Co. in Vancouver.
“When something becomes available on the cannabis wholesale ordering sheet, everybody tries to get all that's available. It's like a race. That's one of the biggest opportunities we're facing in the legalized market.”
Companies are ramping up hemp growth to produce the trendy extract, but observers expect the shortage to persist until late this year. Meanwhile, scientists are working to separate the hype from reality when it comes to medical claims about the drug.
While licensed producers were preparing for legalization last year, they assumed most of the demand was going to be for cannabis high in THC, the intoxicating ingredient, said Khurram Malik, CEO of Biome Grow.
The buzz around CBD grew with the passage last year of a U.S. law known as the farm bill, which allows for the growing of hemp for the purposes of extracting cannabidiol, he said. Similar regulations came into effect in Canada in October.
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