CVS is going to sell CBD products over-the-counter in 800 stores in 8 states, CVS Health CEO Larry Melo said. We take a look at why CVS is now carrying CBD products, and which brands this massive pharmacy chain will be stocking. Here's all you need to know.
CVS to sell CBD products in 800 stores in 8 states
CBD-infused sprays, roll-ons, creams and salves will be offered as an ‘alternative source of relief’.
CVS to sell CBD-infused products
CVS Pharmacy announced Wednesday that it will begin selling hemp-derived CBD products in eight states. The national drug store chain will be marketing the topical cannabidiol products, such as creams, sprays and roll-ons, as “an alternative source of relief,” CVS said in a statement to NBC News. CVS will also be partnering with a company to test and verify the quality of the CBD topicals sold in its drug stores.
“We are carrying hemp-derived CBD products in select states to help meet consumer demand for alternative care options,” said CVS Health Spokesperson, Mike DeAngelis.
The items will be sold in Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland and Tennessee.
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CBD, or cannabidiol, comes from the hemp plant, a close relative to another member of the cannabis family, marijuana. Both plants contain abundant types of cannabinoids, but marijuana is high in the psychoactive chemical THC, while hemp is rich in CBD, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis that has generated quite a buzz for its potential medicinal benefits.
CBD has been touted as a treatment for a wide range of conditions — including anxiety, pain, inflammation and even cancer — but little reliable research has been done on CBD’s effects on humans, experts say. The only FDA-approved CBD oil is Epidiolex, an oral solution prescribed for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare, severe forms of epilepsy.
“Societies have jumped far far ahead of science,” said Dr. Margaret Haney, a professor of neurobiology at Columbia University Medical Center and director of Columbia’s Marijuana Research Laboratory. “So it’s showing up in lotions and pretty much any form of product one can use. There’s a lot of different ways one could use CBD, but the ways we have studied CBD is much more limited.”
CVS has at least 9,800 stores nationwide and will soon roll out the CBD products in over 800 stores in the eight states. The health care chain says that effectiveness claims will vary from product-to-product, but that the company does not plan to market any of the items as a ‘cure-all’ product.
“We’re going to walk slowly, but this is something we think our customers will be looking for,” CVS Health CEO Larry Merlo said in an interview Wednesday with CNBC’s Jim Cramer.
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The company noted that they would not be selling any CBD-based supplements or food additives. Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to introduce drug ingredients like CBD into the food supply or to market them as dietary supplements.
“Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement in December.
For this reason, CVS will market the creams and salves as over-the-counter medicinal products, merchandised in a dedicated display.
There have been more dangerous situations where people turn down effective medications to use unproven products, like CBD.
To assure accurate labeling and safety for customers, CVS has partnered with Eurofins, a third party laboratory, to test all CBD topicals for THC, CBD content, and other contaminants, DeAngelis said in the statement to NBC News.
“We are working only with CBD product manufacturers that are complying with applicable laws and that meet CVS’s high standards for quality. Only products passing these independent tests are offered for sale in our stores,” the statement said.
Some experts believe the move by CVS to sell CBD over-the-counter may provide more questions than answers, at least initially.
“It’s a way to reduce the stigma for a product that really doesn’t deserve to be stigmatized,” said nutritionist and cannabis practitioner Brooke Alpert. “On the other hand, because of the lack of regulation it raises questions like: do people really know what they’re getting; can other brands get away with selling inferior products; and where can people find more information about these products?”
Health FDA approves cannabis-based drug CBD for epilepsy
Another big concern for experts is that patients will avoid proven medications in favor of CBD.
“There have been more dangerous situations where people turn down effective medications to use unproven products, like CBD,” said Haney.
Dr. Shamard Charles is a physician-journalist for NBC News and Today, reporting on health policy, public health initiatives, diversity in medicine, and new developments in health care research and medical treatments.
CVS Stores Start Carrying CBD? [All Need to Know]
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CVS Health Corporation is one of the world’s largest retail pharmacies and health care companies with over $180 billion in annual revenue. It was only a matter of time before the corporate giant got involved in CBD, and it now stocks CBD topicals in at least eight of its American stores.
Jumping on the CBD Bandwagon
Soon after CVS’ announcement, one of its main rivals, Walgreens, also stated its intention to sell CBD products in its stores. This is a sure sign that CBD has entered the mainstream, just a few years after it was dismissed as nothing more than a fad and a novelty item.
Like Walgreens, CVS is somewhat cautious in its initial foray into the CBD sphere. It has over 10,000 locations in the U.S. alone, but in 2019 the company announced CBD would only be available from a relatively small percentage of CVS stores in the following eight states: Illinois, Colorado, Alabama, California, Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, and Indiana. It is also important to note that neither edibles nor CBD-derived supplements will be available. However, customers can purchase lotions, roll-ons, sprays, salves, and creams.
In many ways, it is not a surprise that major pharmacies are getting involved in CBD. At the end of 2018, the Farm Bill made it legal for Americans to grow and sell industrial hemp. Since CBD can be extracted from hemp, it is easier than ever for suppliers to get hold of premium-grade cannabidiol. The CBD market itself could be worth as much as $22 billion within three years. CVS has joined other renowned health and beauty companies such as DSW, Free People, Authentic Brands Group, Neiman Marcus, and Sephora, all of whom have become involved in CBD.
What CBD Brands Are CVS Selling?
Elevate CBD is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the news as the firm’s CBD-infused pain relief cream will be sold in over 1,500 CVS stores. The brand specializes in full-spectrum, lab-tested, and supposedly, ethically-sourced hemp products.
The cream is full-spectrum, which means it contains several cannabinoids, including CBD, but crucially, it contains less than 0.3% THC, the maximum legal limit. Each 4oz tub contains 140mg of cannabinoids and is available for $39.99. It is designed for pain relief, and proponents say it does an excellent job of treating their aching muscles and joint pain. Buyers can choose between two varieties: cooling and warming cream.
Medterrais another big winner, as CVS announced that it would be selling the California-based brand’s topical cooling cream. The cooling cream that will be available in CVS is a combination of CBD and other certified organic ingredients. The brand claims that its cream provides users with a cooling feeling, making it ideal for sore joints and muscles.
There are well over 20 ingredients in the cream, including sunflower seed oil, cetyl alcohol, grapefruit seed extract, xanthan gum, and Arnica flower oil. According to Medterra, the cream contains 99.6% pure CBD. Choose between the 250mg tub for $49.95 or the 750mg tub for $89.95.
Social is another CBD-based company that has significantly benefited from CVS’s decision to sell CBD topical creams. SocialCBD Muscle Rub 3-ounce cream ($29.99) is designed to provide fast and effective relief for muscle aches and pains.
The product contains a proprietary herbal blend, which is infused with menthol and CBD. Each 3-ounce tube of Social CBD muscle rub cream contains at least 250mg of hemp-derived CBD.
CVS Pharmacy explicitly states on its website that state restrictions apply to Select’s CBD Muscle Rub cream. It is essential to bear this in mind before purchasing this product.
Sagely Naturals also have several CBD-based products which are available to purchase in select CVS stores and via their website. The CBD-based company was founded in 2015 by Kerrigan Behrens and Kaley Nichol. According to Forbes magazine, Sagely Naturals is the largest female-founded company in the CBD market today.
Working in collaboration with chemists and naturopaths, Sagely Naturals began formulating broad-spectrum CBD-based products coupled with potent botanicals. All of Sagely Naturals’ products are derived from organically-grown, non-GMO hemp and contain less than 0.0025% THC. Each product is then quadruple-tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure the highest quality and purity standard.
One of Sagely Naturals products available to purchase from CVS is their Relief & Recovery CBD Cream. It is available in a 2fl ounce ($19.99) and a 4fl ounce ($35.99) bottle. Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery CBD Cream contains the company’s proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients and broad-spectrum CBD. This topical cream is designed to provide cooling relief and deep nourishment to the skin. The 2fl ounce bottle contains 25mg CBD, and the 4fl ounce contains 50mg CBD.
CVS selling CBD products is a great example of how popular the industry has become in a few short years.
CVS also sells Sagely Naturals Calm & Centered Cream. According to Sagely Naturals, this topical cream is designed to facilitate a sense of wakeful calm. The formula also contains Sagely Naturals proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients and broad-spectrum CBD. Plus, Sagely Naturals Calm & Centred Cream is packed with essential oils such as lavender, bergamot, and chamomile. It is available in a 4fl ounce bottle and contains 50mg CBD. Sagely Naturals Calm & Centered Cream 4fl ounce is priced at $35.99.
Also available via select CVS stores and the CVS website is Sagely Naturals Relief & Recovery CBD Spray. It comes in a conveniently sized 2-ounce bottle and is priced at $27.99. The 2-ounce bottle contains 50mg CBD and is infused with essential oils such as menthol, peppermint, rosemary, and eucalyptus. According to Sagely Naturals, their Relief & Recovery CBD Spray is a quick-drying pick-me-up for easy use on the go.
Overall, CVS carrying CBD products is yet another boon for an industry that appears to have great momentum. Having colossal corporations such as Walgreens and CVS throwing their weight behind CBD has helped the industry move forward.
CVS is a brand that takes pride in its status as a health care heavyweight. In 2014, it was the first national pharmacy to stop selling tobacco products. And its latest venture could provide the seal of approval that the industry desperately needs. Of course, the impact that CVS and other industry giants may have on smaller independent CBD brands is yet to be seen. For the few companies that actually make it into CVS stores, the business will, of course, be great. For some of the others, perhaps not so much.