People trying to quit smoking tobacco face a steep uphill climb. With withdrawal symptoms like headaches, dizziness, fatigue, irritability, and weight gain being so persistent, it usually takes tobacco smokers a few attempts before they successfully quit tobacco. In fact, in a 2015 survey reported by the FDA, 55% of smokers attempted to quit but only 7% were successful in quitting for 6-12 months.
Still, the health benefits of giving up tobacco make it all worth it. Fortunately, people trying to quit smoking tobacco may have a natural, tobacco and nicotine-free alternative with CBD cigarettes, also known as hemp cigarettes.
In a study published by the journal Addiction, researchers learned that CBD can help tobacco smokers quit by altering their brains’ attentional biases to cigarette cues. Simply put, when a tobacco smoker has a craving, they do not associate the same positive feelings and satiety with tobacco as they typically would when they’re under the effects of CBD.
This adds to the growing evidence that CBD is an effective ally in the fight against addiction. In 2013, the journal Addictive Behaviors published a study revealing that tobacco smokers who were given CBD when they had a nicotine craving reduced their cigarette consumption by around 40% compared to smokers who were given a placebo.
How does CBD help smokers quit smoking tobacco?
CBD is effective in helping people quit smoking tobacco because it acts on similar parts of the brain as tobacco. “Cannabis, and the brain system which it acts upon, the endocannabinoid system, is highly associated with tobacco use,” notes researcher Chandni Hindocha, doctoral student at the Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit of University College London.
It should be noted that CBD does not affect cravings for tobacco and nicotine – people in studies showed no signs of lessened or fewer cravings for their usual tobacco cigarette. What it does is trigger a different response to that craving.
Combined with abstinence, when a smoker has a craving for a tobacco cigarette, reaching for a CBD or hemp cigarette might be one of the best ways to quit tobacco for good while providing a safer means to feed their smoking habit.
CBD is the second most prevalent active compound in the cannabis plant. In the past few years, there has been a lot of research about CBD and the benefits it can have on the body. It’s commonly used to provide relief from anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and many people use it for more physical ailments like muscle pain or for treating symptoms of epilepsy.
One of the most appealing traits of CBD is its non-psychoactive properties. It has a relaxing effect, but won’t get smokers high as they would with THC.
This relaxing effect is really appealing to smokers. Inside a CBD retail store in Vermont, NPR asks customers what smoking hemp does for them. “Well, helps me kind of relax,” responds one customer. “Me too,” chimes in another customer. “Let me tell you, it satisfies me.”
Rise of the hemp smokables market
Brands are creating hemp smokables that respond to this positive sentiment in the marketplace. Paving the way is Agrowth Corp, an industry front-runner in white-label and private-label hemp cigarette manufacturing and packaging. Agrowth Corp processes hemp into high-quality cigarettes, pre-rolls, and jarred flower, and takes care of branding by designing or white labeling products in retail-ready packaging. Currently, Agrowth Corp is the preferred production partner for dozens of hemp cigarette brands throughout the US and is expanding into the global market.
It’s a great moment for companies to team with Agrowth Corp and introduce new hemp smokables to the market. Market research predicts CBD sales to surpass $20 billion in the US by 2024. Of those sales, the smokable hemp market currently represents 2% and is one of the fastest-growing sectors. In fact, hemp smokables grew by 250% between 2017 and 2018.
The momentum in the hemp smokables industry can be attributed to the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill made industrial hemp under 0.3% THC federally legal and opened the door for the manufacturing and distribution of hemp products throughout the country. There aren’t any federal restrictions on the sale, transportation, or possession of hemp-derived products that fall within the 0.3% THC limit.
Smoking hemp vs. tobacco – what are consumers doing?
In an interview with NPR, a Vermont CBD shop owner noted that for many of her customers buying hemp cigarettes, “they’re in it for the ritual of the smoking.”
Makes sense. You’re hard-pressed to find a tobacco smoker who doesn’t know it’s bad for them, but they haven’t stopped because it’s hard to change their habits. When people who have smoked for a long time try to stop, they tend to feel like they have nothing to do with their hands. Morning coffees, drives, and “smoke breaks” often go hand in hand with cigarettes. Swapping a tobacco cigarette for a hemp cigarette is a great way for a smoker to wean themselves off tobacco without putting an abrupt stop to the way they do things.
Hemp cigarettes are great alternatives to tobacco cigarettes, and even vaping and e-cigarettes, because they aren’t addictive. “A lot of the problems we have with tobacco is if you smoke enough of it and you’re pre-disposed, you’re not going to stop. That’s unlikely to happen with hemp since there’s nothing in hemp that we’re aware of that makes people dependent,” says Dr. Jordan Tishler, medical expert at Green Flower Media and president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists.
There’s no such thing as a “healthy cigarette,” but if a smoker is not addicted, they’re not as compelled to smoke more than their body can handle, and that can have long-term positive effects on their health.
How does all this affect the hemp smokables industry?
In Brightfield Group’s market research, 24% of CBD users reported using it to help them quit tobacco cigarettes and 41% had entirely replaced tobacco cigarettes with hemp. That’s a huge portion of tobacco consumers switching to hemp.
Growth is so promising, even grammy-nominated musician Post Malone has released his own brand of hemp pre-rolls. “It’s a product I personally love and know my fans will too,” Post Malone said at the release of his brand, Shaboink.
There is a lot of space for brands to provide consumers with alternative, non-addictive cigarettes. To learn about joining the movement and building your own hemp cigarette brand, contact Agrowth Corp today.