If 2017 was the year of avocado toast, 2018 was surely the year of CBD. From CBD oil coffee, negronis and blood orange gummies to bath bombs and face masks, suddenly, cannabidiol seemed like it was everywhere.
Indeed, co-founder and CEO of the natural food retail site Thrive Market Nick Green revealed that it’s the fastest growing category on his site: “We launched a CBD product in early 2018 and it was the fastest growing brand on the site last year, and now their products are the top 10 products on the site in terms of dollar sales,” Green told me in a phone conversation. “CBD has been the fastest and steepest inflection point of any trend we’ve seen since we started the company in 2014."
Cool, so I’m not imagining things. As a food editor, I’m naturally obliged to sample and analyze the array of products that came across my desk—and poll all of my desk-mates, too. Sometimes, people swear they felt sleepier or clumsier or more alert, but the general verdict has been: Nada. Nothing. And thus began my creeping suspicion that CBD is just a placebo.
Recently, a variety pack of CBD capsules came across my desk, some promising better sleep, others muscle recovery and still others menstrual relief. Although each contained a proprietary mixture of sleep or muscle recovery-promoting ingredients, the brand got me thinking: Is CBD just a modern-day snake oil? A brilliant marking gimmick because there’s no hard science to prove what it really does, and therefore it can promise to do, well, almost everything?