How Coronavirus Has Affected the UK's CBD Industry

For the majority of the twentieth-century cannabis and its cannabinoids have had a stigma attached to it, that to a lesser extent remains with it to this day. However, it has changed dramatically in the last few years and continues to change, with an increase in awareness and knowledge in the general public, especially when it comes to CBD (cannabidiol). As well as an increase in awareness, another major step of progress has been due to changes in laws and regulations- these two large steps of progress have contributed to the recent boom in the UK’s CBD industry. But how has the global pandemic that is hitting the world, affected this boom?

The UK’s CBD Industry Before Coronavirus

CBD is one of the two most well-known of the 112 cannabinoids that can be found in the cannabis plant, the other most famous cannabinoid is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is known for its psychoactive effects. CBD can be extracted from both marijuana and hemp plants, however the most popular choice to extract CBD from is the hemp plant, this is due to its low-THC and high-CBD levels. The most common products that are used to administer CBD are by tincture, oil, creams, vapours and skin patches. CBD is currently legal in the UK and is not considered to be a controlled substance, however, although legal, there remains strict regulations around the production and selling of the cannabinoid. 

It has been found that around 8-11% of adults or four-to-six million people, in the UK, use CBD in some form, and the main reason given for CBD use was for better health and wellbeing. In 2019, the UK’s CBD industry was worth £300 million and is expected to reach £1 billion by 2025.

The Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus has impacted many people’s lives around the globe, whether that is our daily routine, health, finances, employment, living situations, etc., this includes businesses and entire industries. The CBD industry has had certain challenges due to the stigma attached to the cannabis plant, in addition to these there have been the challenges that have come with a global pandemic.

It has been found that one of the effects of COVID-19 on the CBD industry is the increased demand for CBD products. People are beginning to look for natural products and alternative options to promote their well-being, and this has highlighted CBD and boosted interest in the cannabinoid.

Another effect has been the fluctuating finances of businesses as well as the ordinary person with the ups-and-downs of finances- incomings and outgoings. The pandemic has nudged the global economy toward a recession or at least the possibility of a recession. This issue resulting from the uncertainty of 2020 has not only caused monetary losses but also made future decisions riskier.

The supply chain has also been affected by the current global situation, with imposed lockdowns restricting or even stopping several key aspects of business flow and the workforce. Therefore, the supply for most businesses, not only for the CBD industry, has come under severe pressure. There have also been international border closures and travel restrictions which has made this even tougher for the UK CBD industry and the increased demand.

Even before the global pandemic there was misinformation surrounding the CBD industry, the social acceptance of CBD has been slow but has picked up in recent years, and this slow progress is due to the association it has to ‘drugs’ instead of wellbeing. During such uncertain times as these, the CBD industry needs to stay on top of and correct this misinformation. By tackling misinformation comes an expansion in support and knowledge of the cannabinoid.

Looking to the Future

There could be even further economic disruptions due to Brexit, and no one is sure how long these disruptions could last for. With this pandemic still ongoing, jobs are unstable and cash flow is at risk, due to all of these circumstances it is possible that the CBD industry could be affected further in ways we cannot currently predict. Along with the health and economic difficulties, there is also a much larger strain on everyone's mental health.

Although the CBD industry thus far has not been affected as severely as other industries, it does appear that times are changing even more so because of all the events of 2020, and therefore businesses need to remember to move with the times by being responsible and moving even more online which seems like the way for the UK’s CBD industry to progress.