Cannabis could be coming to a Walgreens near you. Walgreens will soon begin selling cannabis-based cannabidiol (CBD) products in 1,500 stores located in nine different states including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Vermont. CBD doesn’t actually get you high, but it does have many established medicinal benefits, including chronic pain, anxiety, and even neurodegenerative movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s.
The psychoactive component of marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is still federally illegal in the United States, classified as a Schedule I drug without any recognized medical benefit, although 31 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized medical cannabis for patients with qualifying medical conditions. Technically, CBD is non-psychoactive and, more importantly, CBD sourced from hemp is already legal in all 50 states. The move to offer CBD by such a large national retailer is welcome news to the medical cannabis community.
According to a CNBC interview, CBD products such as “creams, patches, and sprays,” will soon become available in Walgreens across the nation. Said Brian Faith, Walgreens spokesman, in an email to CNBC, “This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers.”
In a recent blog post, Walgreens stated, “Marijuana has been used to relieve pain, digestive and psychological disorders for more than 3,000 years – but the efficacy, safety, and legality of the drug are still widely debated. Research on the health benefits of marijuana is ongoing, but current studies have proven that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulation, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.”
This news came a week after CVS began selling CBD back in March of this year. CBD is now available at 800 different CVS stores across eight different states with legalized medical marijuana, including Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee. According to a statement made by a CVS spokesman, “We have partnered with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality.” In an interview with CNBC, said CVS Health CEO, Larry Merlo, “We’re going to be carrying them in eight states, we’re going to be carrying the topical products…not branded by CVS…anecdotally, we’ve heard from our customers that have used those products that, ‘gee, it’s helped with pain relief from arthritis and, you know…other ailments...we think this is something that customers are looking for.”
The shift towards offering cannabis-based products, even if they only contain CBD, could be a signal that cannabis is becoming increasingly mainstream.
Unfortunately, CBD-containing foods and supplements aren’t available at CVS or Walgreens quite yet, although Coca-Cola did announce potential plans to create a cannabis-infused soda in collaboration with Aurora Cannabis. Jelly Belly also intends to capitalize on the emerging trend, with plans to come out with jelly beans containing CBD as well.