It was exactly a year ago that the Farm Bill legalized CBD and hemp, the latter a cousin to cannabis as it comes from the same plant. Of course, there were specified guidelines, such as hemp can be sold as long as the maximum THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives users their high) count is .3 percent; anything that contains more will be federally classified as illegal marijuana.

The legalization has spawned a booming cottage industry. But just like with the federally illegal cannabis market, problems proliferate for CBD and hemp entrepreneurs. For one thing, many vendors, retailers, advertisers, manufacturers and banks are still not fully apprised that hemp, for instance, is legal. Because of this misunderstanding, these prospective partners balk at working with hemp entrepreneurs, thinking they’ll be subject to the same penalties they would working with cannabis businesses.

CBD has not been immune to these setbacks, either. Despite its legality, the FDA has clamped down on businesses that sell CBD as food additives or label it as a dietary supplement. According to the food watchdog, CBD’s safety for use in human or animal food is inconclusive, requiring more data until proven otherwise.

In a press release, Patrick McCarthy, CEO and co-founder of ValidCare, a provider of market intelligence and research for the hemp-derived product industry, offered a few intriguing predictions for the space in 2020. Do you agree?

Safety Product Assurance

“Today’s consumer cares about where the products they put in, and on, their bodies come from. From big breweries to boutique ice creams, mainstream brands showcase their farmers in their advertising and market organic, cruelty-free and hyper-local manufacturing practices on their packaging to assure consumers their products are natural, safe and worth a premium price. This trend will hit the hemp industry next, as consumers demand information on plant origin, farming practices, product composition and sustainability.”

Baby Boomer Consumption Escalates

“The AARP crowd is one of the largest demographics using hemp-derived CBD for chronic joint pain and sleep. Expect this trend to increase as Boomers seek to replace prescription and OTC pharmaceuticals with hemp-derived products — and to lobby for coverage and/or reimbursement through FSAs, HSAs and supplemental MediCare policies.”

Hemp As Mental Health Aid

“Today, one in five Americans report they use hemp-derived CBD for ‘mental health reasons’ such as anxiety. In 2020, we’ll see even more people ditch Prozac prescriptions for non-impairing hemp-derived CBD to support their mental health goals. Expect brands targeting this audience to commission research on hemp-derived CBD’s functional benefits for mental health.”

Paving The Way For Minor Supplements

“CBD was this decade’s craze, but as the market for cannabidiol becomes oversaturated, product companies will introduce other interesting minor cannabinoids like CBN and CBG, already touted as having functional benefits tied to sleep and appetite. Expect the FDA to voice concerns about these ‘cannabis derived compounds’ and mirror its communication to industry and the public about the need for these products to be properly vetted for safety and use – and for product companies to market them nonetheless.”

Invasion of the Great White North

“Last year we witnessed a number of marijuana companies diversifying products and risks by introducing hemp-based wellness lines. In 2020, expect our Northern neighbors to take advantage of the depressed financial market and invest or buy U.S.-based hemp companies as a way to enter the U.S. market.”