We are living in the marijuanaissance. Thanks to CBD, cannabis is getting its glow-up, trading in the stoner image for a new one as a luxury wellness and beauty ingredient. Loosening of cannabis laws and the enthusiasm around emerging science has legitimized the medicinal claims surrounding CBD, but it’s the boutiquification of cannabis that has made everyone want to be seen with it.
There are celebrity evangelists, like Emma Roberts, Melissa McCarthy, who rubbed CBD oil on her feet before the Oscars, and Kim Kardashian, who considered throwing a CBD-themed baby shower. Well-designed tubes and bottles from chic brands like Vertly, Flora + Bast, and Lord Jones have become the new flacons of Chanel No. 5. This year, Barneys opened a high-end cannabis lifestyle Shop in Beverly Hills, and retailers like CVS and Walgreens are following suit.
If you were planning to wait out the CBD trend, you may want to reconsider — the American CBD market could reach $16 billion by 2025, Cowen & Co predicts. By now, you’ve seen an infused version of everything from mascara to intimate lube, but not nearly enough about what it actually does. Will it de-stress you? Give you great skin? Can it get you high? And if not, why do people care about it so much?
What is CBD anyway?
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is one of over 80 compounds called cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. The two most well-known of these are CBD, which does not get you stoned, and THC, which does. In the days of Reefer Madness, any attention weed got was focused on THC, the component that allegedly made nice girls go crazy and shack up with jazz musicians. Strains were bred to contain high THC because people buying cannabis generally wanted to get high. (Duh.) CBD didn’t pique much interest stateside until the aughts when scientists started studying the health benefits of low-THC strains.
So, can it get you high?
No, no, a thousand times, no. Which is precisely what’s making CBD so popular right now.
Why is it in everything right now?
“Honestly, people didn't really know about how beneficial CBD can be prior to legalization,” says Claudia Mata, cofounder of infused skincare line Vertly. “It’s got anti-inflammation properties, vitamins A, D, and E, and essential fatty acids. The public is starting to view it the way we do — more like a vitamin.”
Now that cannabis is legal in much of the U.S. (medical marijuana in 33 states and recreational cannabis in 10 states, plus Washington D.C.), more people have had a chance to experience the plant in a whole new way. “The word of mouth on CBD has spread like wildfire,” says Cindy Capobianco, cofounder of Lord Jones, a chic brand of infused goodies that are available in Standard hotels and SoulCycle studios nationwide. “The enthusiasm and education about CBD is de-stigmatizing and normalizing the cannabis plant faster than we could have ever imagined.”
How does CBD work?
Our bodies actually make our own cannabis-type chemical called anandamide, also known as the "bliss molecule." (Think: runner’s high.) “CBD naturally elevates the levels of your own endocannabinoid,” says Michele Ross, founder of Infused Health, a cannabis education and health coaching program. “Increasing anandamide in your body and brain has anti-inflammatory effects, but it also has other activities at other receptors.” Exactly what all of those are is still being worked out in the lab. Most of the media attention has come from its use in controlling treatment-resistant epilepsy, and it’s been lauded as a possible answer to everything from anxiety to breast cancer.