With more and more developed countries around the world embracing marijuana at home, it has become less a question of why and more a matter of what. There isn’t a whole range of choices, but it’s apparently enough to send people into a headspin when the cannabidiol (CBD) vs. tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) debate is brought up.
Rather than focus on the somewhat subjective nature of this topic, we turned to the data – using Google Trends as our primary source, we attempt to break down what people prefer to have in their marijuana, regardless of potential upsides and downsides.
The first, most obvious thing you might notice from the graph is a large spike in the number of CBD-related searches paired with marijuana. As of November 2018, the interest in CBD was four times higher than it was for THC.
However, this sudden surge in interest is probably driven by the kind of buzz people have been spreading around the potential health benefits of CBD.
How Common Are CBD Products in Testing Labs & Cannabis Stores?
To understand how common CBD products are, we first have to consider how common the chemical is in testing labs. They are the first traceable link in the legal supply chain, making them the easiest place to gather data from.
Each product that goes through this link goes through compliance testing, which includes testing the levels of THC and CBD, before being moved to stores for sale. The data presented here is from Confidence Analytics, a licensed testing lab based in Washington.
As of 2018, nearly 98% of all samples of flower products brought into the lab for testing were THC dominant. This is in stark contrast to recent search trends provided to Google and serve as an illustration of just how scarce CBD is in the legal market.
Aside from which, a resemblant pattern is also seen in cannabis oil, wax & other marijuana concentrates tests. CBD-dominant and CBD/THC balanced products are represented a little bit better in this case. Still, THC alone accounts for about 92% of all marijuana concentrates in the tested products.
What about edibles?
The data shows that THC-dominant products represent the grand majority of all edibles tested in Washington. However, the pattern observed in concentrates and flower breaks down here. CBD-related products account for over 20% of all the edibles tested by Confidence Analytics throughout the year.
There have been quite many attempts to explain why CBD-related products are so well represented in this category. The most plausible explanation is that THC-based products are considered dicey since they are incredibly volatile in terms of intensity and duration.
To mitigate the risk, many consumers would instead use CBD-related products, driving the prevalence of CBD products higher in this category.
It’s still only a theory. Maybe the incidence of products containing CBD is driven by consumer demand, a trend that would be difficult to read from raw data directly. One way to get closer to the truth would be probing whether people are looking for CBD in edibles more than any other category, shifting the market as supply chases demand.
Another crucial source of data we can investigate is Leafly to see if consumers’ attention is really on CBD.
What CBD Terms Are Cannabis Consumers Searching for on Leafly?
Leafly has a wide range of visitors from all corners of the country, providing us with a healthy amount of data we can sift through to find out what different consumers have been searching for over the past year.
Just like the data from Google suggests, the last year has seen a dramatic rise in the number of people with an increasing interest in CBD. Of these, each has been capturing consumers’ attention to varying degrees, as you might imagine.
To find out which terms related to CBD are the most attractive, we put the five most popular search terms as provided by the website against each other throughout this year by their overall growth rate.
Of which, “CBD vape” seems to be the most popular search term among users. This is both a reflection of people’s growing interest in both CBD itself and the recent influx of people who prefer vaping as a method of consumption.
What CBD Strains Trending Are Trending in 2018?
With all that under wraps, it will be perhaps of more use to find out what consumers resonate the most with as of the end of the year as compared to 2017. We deconstructed the data relating to traffic on strain pages on the website with strong visitation volumes for all CBD-dominant and balanced THC/CBD strains. Sorting by growth rate, a list of the most popular CBD strains for the whole year was acquired.
Remedy, a relatively popular CBD-dominant strain generally used for managing pain and general relaxation was at the top of the list with a whopping 660% growth rate in 2018 traffic as compared to 2017.
Other brands like Remedy, Nordle, Dancehall, and The Wife follow somewhat closely behind, each of which has a rather impressive growth rate of over 400%.
With all this information at hand and the kind of explanation year-on-year growth seen by CBD-related strains, logic suggests there should be more CBD strains on the market. However, farms have some considerable amount of trouble growing them despite the high demand.
Remedy and other 20:1 CBD strains can also be difficult to source, according to Laurel Friesen, an Environmental Chemist who works with Confidence Analytics.
Lastly, since there has always been a historical emphasis on higher levels of THC as compared to CBD, the practice continues today. There are many more strains with high levels of THC, and any growers who are in the position to create high-yield, high-CBD strains are in the best place to fill the supply gap.