By Chloe Aiello
Despite strides toward broader legalization, stigma around cannabis consumption still exists ー especially for women. But there is one area of the industry where women are leading: CBD.
Betsy Holland, general manager of CBD e-commerce platform Eaze Wellness, told Cheddar that women are tackling this space in part to take on stereotypical cannabis "bro" culture and to appeal to other female consumers.
An estimated 38 percent of cannabis consumers are women, according to a January survey by Eaze, but cannabis marketing has long been targeted toward men ー and old habits die hard. In February gun-toting Instagram celebrity Dan Bilzerian caused a stir with a risque ad campaign for his cannabis company, Ignite. Billboards featuring scantily clad women next to the words "Good Grass" inspired backlash, especially among women in the industry.
"Finding something that speaks to women is something we've seen a lot of brands tackle," Holland said, adding that about 75 percent of companies on Eaze Wellness are founded or led by women.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of many cannabinoids from the cannabis sativa plant, but unlike the psychoactive cannabinoid THC, it won't make a user high. Although the Food and Drug Administration has only approved CBD for use in the epilepsy medication Epidiolex, it has been touted as having an array of applications for everything from inflammation and acne to anxiety and depression.
Those wellness applications are especially attractive to women, who are largely the target demographic of the global health and wellness industry, which was worth an estimated $4 trillion in 2017, according to the Global Wellness Institute.
"Finding something that speaks to women is something we've seen a lot of brands tackle," Holland said.
Women may represent a big opportunity for the hemp and CBD industry, so Holland said companies shouldn't discount its female customers. Erasing the stigma many women feel about consumption starts with education, she said.
"There's a huge opportunity to educate women on how cannabis can be a wellness, health care tool that you can incorporate into your life," she said.
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