As more consumers turn to medicinal herbs for their wellness needs or simply to keep current with trendy boho culture, CBD is proving a ubiquitous addition to the scene. Everyone from CBD industry giants like Charlotte’s Web to boutique brands with witchy cred like Sacred Smoke Herbals is marketing soothing CBD smokes without the addictive chemicals of conventional tobacco products in the form of pre-rolled CBD joints, and consumers are lining up, and lighting up, in response.
In its forecast of leading trends in 2020, Canna Trading Company featured CBD pre-rolls as a way to consume CBD in its most bioavailable form. (Bioavailability refers to the amount of a consumed substance that actually becomes available for uptake in the body.) When smoked, CBD enters the body through two pathways, the mouth and also the lungs, which deliver CBD directly to the bloodstream.
Jacob Eppinger, writing for online platform Odyssey, differentiates between CBD pre-rolls, which look exactly like a joint made with THC-rich cannabis, and CBD cigarettes, which are also experiencing a popularity surge. CBD cigarette manufacturers such as Wild Hemp offer smokable CBD without the visual stigma of smoking a joint. CBD manufacturers are eager to cater to the segment of the population that wants to inhale its CBD incognito, without exhaling that signature funky-smelling cloud of smoke. Vendors like Hemp86 have developed smokable CBD products without the funk, and are ranked among the most popular brands on the market.
Smoking herbs in order to benefit from their medicinal properties is not a new concept. People have long used herbal cigarettes containing such lung-supportive herbs as mullein and coltsfoot, either blended with tobacco or on their own as a way of cutting back on tobacco or making a smoking habit “healthier”. Other relaxing herbs like damiana, lavender, mugwort, and now CBD, are smoked for their non-psychoactive “chill out” effect.
Pre-rolls provide a cheap, easy way for CBD novices to dip a toe into the cannabidiol world without a huge initial investment. It is possible to buy high-quality hemp flower (which contains the highest potency of CBD) by the gram at a fraction of the cost of oil, though the health benefits appear anything but comparable. Mathew Gold, a staff attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, warns that “simply being free of additives—or, in the case of herbal cigarettes, nicotine, doesn’t make them safer. Any kind of cigarette you smoke has tar and carbon monoxide, which have very real health hazards associated with them.”
Despite this fact, sales of hemp pre-rolls remain strong. In an article for Hemp Industry Daily, Brightfield Group analyst Bethany Gomez estimates that the smokable hemp market has grown 250 percent since 2017. By 2018, 41 percent of CBD users of the 5,000 surveyed had entirely replaced tobacco with CBD. It remains to be seen whether the pre-roll trend will burn itself out in 2020 or become a new fixture in the CBD consumer’s daily routine, but for now, smokable CBD is sparking plenty of interest.