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OK, so here you are, reading about who’s using CBD and wondering to yourself, “Do I fit into this category?” You have probably, by this time, sorted out the difference between CBD-only products and marijuana. They are obviously not the same thing or taken for the same reasons.

If it took you a while to work this all out, don’t feel bad. It took the federal government and all of its agency experts several decades to come to the conclusion that hemp and marijuana are not the same thing.

Now that the 2018 Farm Bill has taken hemp off the controlled substances list, the stigma has largely gone away. However, there is still quite a bit of misinformation and confusion out there on the internet on the subject. Stay safe friends, check your sources, you can always check back here for some of the most fact-checked info in the CBD industry.

But the fact is that CVS and Walgreens will be selling CBD products in select stores starting this year. What products they will sell and most importantly, the quality of those products remain to be seen.

Back to the original questions of this post. Who is currently using CBD and its associated products? And, why are they using it?

We did as deep a dive into this subject as we could. The information was hard to come by. Much of it based on the hype the industry is experiencing and the overall lack of public understanding of the subject.

We looked at it from a lot of angles—use of CBD by men vs. women, by age group, education, and by ethnicity. We even took a look at the use of CBD among our non-human friends.

What we found may surprise you.

Who is Using CBD—Surveys & Studies

First things first—the surveys that are available about CBD users skew heavily toward people that also regularly uses marijuana. This stems from the fact that news reports on marijuana are significantly higher than the news on CBD alone. So, to know CBD, most started by knowing marijuana.

The percentage of people that used marijuana in a recent survey was just under 9 percent of the total population. Meaning, 1 out of every 7 Americans in 2017, when the study was released, used marijuana for some reason.

We did find a huge difference between the public that uses marijuana and CBD and the public that uses marijuana only.

Nearly half of the respondents of one survey we found was made up of non-marijuana users. This study gave us a better look at the demographics of users of CBD in terms of the general population.

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CBD Use in Men vs. Women

It has been said, and noted my many, that women come from Venus and men come from Mars. However, it turns out that when it comes to using CBD, the better analogy is the Earth and the Moon. The actual differences between men and women are not that large. What we found though indicates that women are larger users of CBD than men. We will let you determine if that means that they are from the Earth or the Moon.

According to Understanding Cannabidiol | CBD, Industry Expert Report published by the Brightfield Group in 2018, 55 percent of CBD users are female. This particular survey was done on over 2,400 members of the medical cannabis community, mostly in California. Again, this is not a survey of the general population, but a select group of medical cannabis users. There should be more research on the use of CBD specifically and CBD awareness of the general population in 2019. You will most likely read it here first.

In an attempt to get closer to the truth in terms of CBD-only users, A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users, was done using an anonymous questionnaire that was available online to the general public. It was promoted for three months on Facebook, LinkedIn, and ResearchGate. In addition, CBD product manufacturers promoted the survey on their own social media platforms. In this study, 51 percent of the respondents identified as female, 47 percent male (the remainder simply did not answer that question).

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Generational Use of CBD

The Brightfield survey found that the largest group of CBD users (nearly one-third) are between ages 35 and 49. The 26-34 and 50-64 age ranges each making up 20-25 percent of the market. These statistics were confirmed by another study done by MRI Simmons of cannabis consumers that found the average CBD consumer to be 45 years old. So while this seems to point to an older consumer public for CBD, it is still, unfortunately, incomplete.

Interestingly, in the Cross-Sectional Study (mentioned above), the largest group of people who responded were between the ages of 55 and 74. This would seem to demonstrate that those not looking for a high from marijuana, CBD-only users, are an older population. These are folks looking only for the medicinal benefit from CBD.

Educational Demographics of CBD Users

One of the other things revealed was that CBD users are generally well-educated. The Brightfield study found only 1.3 percent had not received their high school diplomas. However, 15.4 percent had a graduate or postgraduate degree completed. Nearly half of CBD users have a bachelor’s degree or beyond. Having a BA or BS degree was most common among respondents, followed by having completed some college.

This may be a matter of economics. It requires a certain level of disposable income to look into alternative medicinal treatments. This is especially true since alternative treatments are not currently covered by most health care plans.

In the Cross-Sectional Study, most respondents who were using CBD were graduates or enrolled in a college or postgraduate program.

CBD use by Ethnicity

The Brightfield Report stated that 66 percent identified as Caucasian and the second largest group as Hispanic/Latino—11 percent. The report acknowledged that the Hispanic/Latino figures were likely not accurate as just two years earlier, the group had done a similar survey and found that 22 percent of those surveyed were Hispanic/Latino.

The MRI Simmons Study reported that CBD users are 40 percent more likely than the average cannabis user to be Hispanic, Asian, or Native American. This may at first look like conflicting data. However you need to consider that the Brightfield surveys were done with medical marijuana consumers and the MRI Simmons study looks at all marijuana users—medicinal and recreational alike.

What are People Using CBD For?

The Brightfield Report stated that the top medical conditions that are described by CBD users for its application are Anxiety (66%), Insomnia (59%) and Joint Pain & Inflammation (49%) and Depression (44%).

Here is where men and women come together on pretty much the exact same planet. Nearly all of those surveyed (80% of both men and women) found CBD to be very or extremely effective AND almost half (42%) of those same CBD users had stopped using traditional medications.

The findings were similar in the Cross-Sectional Study. It found the top three conditions treated were Chronic Pain, Arthritis/Joint Pain, and Anxiety. It went on further to say that CBD is used more frequently as a specific therapy for specific medical conditions rather than for general health and well-being.

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Differences Between CBD Users and Marijuana Users

While CBD users are on average middle age, fully 52 percent of the country’s 55 million marijuana (THC) users are millennials. And while CBD users tend to be female, the vast majority of marijuana users are male. Demonstrating the disparity between marijuana and CBD users, marijuana users generally make under $50,000 a year and lack a college degree.

The MRI-Simmons Study found that only 10 percent of marijuana users also use CBD. It also found that marijuana users who also use CBD have drastically different viewpoints on marijuana than those who use marijuana only. Over half of the marijuana and CBD users were using cannabis (marijuana and CBD) for medicinal reasons. Among the marijuana-only group, only 15 percent used it for medicinal purposes.

“The CBD consumer is both more mainstream and politically engaged than the average cannabis consumer,” Michael Panebiancom, the vice president of sales for MRI-Simmons, was quoted as saying in CSP Daily News.

About these CBD-User Surveys, Studies & Reports

Understanding Cannabidiol | CBD, Industry Expert Report was published by the Brightfield Group in 2018 in partnership with HelloMD. Brightfield Group is a strategic market research firm specializing in the cannabis industry. HelloMD is one of the nation’s largest online communities of medical cannabis patients, experts, brands and retailers. This particular survey was done on over 2,400 members of the medical cannabis community, mostly in California.

A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users was published online by the National Institute of Health in 2018. The authors of this report, Jamie Corroon and Joy Phillips, stated:

This is the first published survey (aside from industry reports) that specifically analyzes CBD users, as opposed to overall Cannabis or medical Cannabis users.

In this study, 55 percent of respondents reported regular cannabis use. This is higher than national estimates of marijuana users but it still provides valuable insight on CBD users outside of the cannabis community. It was not clear why there was a higher rate of cannabis use among survey respondents than the national average. One possibility put forward was that cannabis users would be more likely to have heard of CBD. Something that is rapidly changing in today’s more accepting environment.

The National Cannabis Study was produced by MRI-Simmons, a syndicated research partnership, in 2018. This study analyzed various aspects of the lives of over 3,000 cannabis consumers. Areas of interest included: product use, media and technology use, attitudes about politics, medicine and more.

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But What About Non-Human Use of CBD?

But enough about humans, jeez. What about that other growing user base of CBD users, our four-footed friends?

Remedy Review (major hat tip to their comprehensive research) conducted a survey of 1,020 dog and cat owners about their thoughts on using CBD oil with their pets. This survey found that while 70 percent of pet owners hadn’t used CBD with their pets, more than 4 in 5 of those still believed it was OK for other people to use it as an alternative remedy. More than 1 in 3 would consider giving it to their own pets in the future, should the need arise.

Of the thirty percent of pet owners who had given their pets CBD oil in at least one instance, their decision to do so was generally based on the recommendation of friends (33%) and online research (28%). Another 6.5 percent of pet owners learned about CBD oil for animals from their veterinarians.

For Me and for Fido and Fluffy

It is interesting to note the generally higher number of individuals who were open to and had actually tried CBD to improve the lives of their pets. One can only assume that individuals were more open to trying something to help their fuzzy friend regardless of the grey area of state and federal laws. With the passage of the 2019 Farm Bill, perhaps more humans will take a look at how CBD can positively affect their own lives.

So, why did pet owners turn to CBD oil for their cats and dogs? Nearly 40 percent of them did so for the same reason so many humans use CBD—issues with chronic joint pain.

After using CBD with their pets, 53 percent of owners perceived their pets as less anxious, and there were other emotional benefits. 43 percent reported that their pet had a more positive mood and 41 percent report that their pet had less stress. These were among the most common health benefits of CBD. Another 37 percent reported a decrease in their pet’s apparent pain after using CBD, and roughly 20 percent noticed a decrease in overall barking.

Those 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Who Uses CBD

1. Cats vs. Dogs – dog owners were 14 percent more likely than cat owners to give CBD to their pets.

2. Old vs. Young – The age of CBD users appears to be older (medium age 45 years old) than for marijuana users (who are generally between 18 and 29 years old) and the median age of the US population (38 years old)

3. CBD Users are generally well educated. One survey showed that nearly half of CBD users have a bachelor’s degree or beyond and another one had those numbers even higher. Compare that to census data that shows that 33 percent of the US population has a college degree—a much lower number.

4. Women are more likely than men to use CBD. This is not shocking however, since women report using more over the counter drugs and supplements than men in general.