No, Starbucks Won't Be Leading the CBD Craze Either
It seems like not a day goes by anymore without a headline about a former politician, actor, athlete, or some other has-been celebrity jumping head first into the legal weed industry as they chase the dragon of trying to remain relevant while also hoping to cash in on the coattails of what’s cool one more time.
As cannabis reform becomes the norm in the vast majority of the country and laws surrounding weed continue to relax so does the social stigma that for decades demonized cannabis users and criminalized the plant.
Now that it has become much more safe to support marijuana, it’s not just fame-clinging individuals looking to reap the rewards of legal weed but now we are seeing large corporations making the shift toward cannabis as everyone anticipates nationwide legalization is imminent.
But like Kendrick so eloquently asked once, “Bitch, where you when I was walkin’?”
Where were these people when weed wasn’t safe?
Over the past several years there have been countless stories of seemingly miraculous recoveries from a wide range of debilitating or even deadly diseases and ailments due to the use of properly grown, sourced, extracted, and administered CBD-based medicines.
This has led to a mad rush to get anything with the letters CBD to the mainstream market as the federal government has traditionally shown more lenience on the non-psychoactive cannabinoid than they have on the more popular and “high”-inducing THC.
Edible and vape-ready products began to appear in convenience stores, health food stores, and all across the internet from shady e-commerce sites. The hype hit its highest point yet last December when Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law which included a provision to end the federal prohibition of the “hemp” plant, which is now defined as any cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC content.
Many entrepreneurs took this as a sign that interstate commerce on all hemp-derived CBD products became legal as well, but an immediate buzzkill from the FDA spelled out their position that foods, drinks, and cosmetic products infused with CBD – even if derived from legal hemp - were will illegal in the eyes of the Feds and that they would be watching for violators.
The FDA clearly did this to try to protect the only allowable CBD medication on the U.S. market, a $32,500/year epilepsy treatment called Epidiolex from a company named GW Pharma. You see, GW Pharma spent years obtaining their monopoly on the medical market – the key word being ‘spent’.
The FDA knows as well as anyone that we can grow our own CBD plants in our own yards, closets, or garages and make our own medicine without their heavily-influenced oversight and that scares the crap out of the government. After all, how do you tax that?
But pressure from an increasing number of cannabis-friendly lawmakers in our nation’s capital seems to be chipping away at the FDA shield and some companies are prepared to bet big that the feds are about to relent.
One such company might be Starbucks – yep, good ol’ weed-hating Starbucks.
While they have shown no love for cannabis in the past, and their current CEO Kevin Johnson claims that the Seattle-based coffee giant has no immediate plans to implement CBD into its menu, he did acknowledge in a recent interview that “We’re well aware of what’s happening around CBD, THC, and all the trends in the industry.” He added, “We will always stay on top of consumer trends and new ideas.”
Just this week a headline on Yahoo! Finance read:
Starbucks could be the first big chain to launch cannabis drinks
So will we see the Starbucks lead the pack on this hype new trend? Will we get to order a Venti Triple Mocha Choca CBD Latte Ya-Ya from a frazzled barista in a supermarket lobby?
We wouldn’t bet on that.
Recent analysis conservatively predicts that the U.S. CBD market will reach $16 billion in revenues by 2025. Researchers point to a 4x spike in the sale of hemp products on Amazon over the past six years as evidence that an evolution is afoot.
There is no doubt that other coffee-based brands will be looking to jump into that revenue pool and there is no doubt that a soulless corporation like Starbucks intends to milk every dollar possible from our society, but Johnson himself laid out perhaps the biggest flaw in the concept.
As he rightfully highlights, 50% of Starbucks sales occur in the drive-through and they are focusing enormous sums of money to further increase that statistic as they see their demographic as people increasingly on the go.
“[Starbucks] would need to gain clarity around potential liability this entails around selling cannabis-infused beverages before introduction,” said Johnson regarding slanging CBD out the back window of his shops.
One of the biggest battles we still face on the road to true nationwide cannabis reform is the myth that motorists that use cannabis are somehow less safe on our roads than those who do not. Despite studies proving our point, prohibitionists perpetuate the scary story in hopes that maybe it’ll slow down the speeding movement.
Supporting cannabis may be safer than ever before, but it will have to be harmless before some companies will associate with it – the question then becomes, will we let them?