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Four in 10 Say CBD Oil Products Should Be Over-the-Counter

Four in 10 Say CBD Oil Products Should Be Over-the-Counter

Story Highlights

  • 39% in U.S. think CBD should be sold over the counter
  • 21% say it should be sold with a prescription while 36% not familiar
  • One-third of those aware of CBD think it has a lot of benefits

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly four in 10 Americans think Cannabidiol (CBD) oils should be legally available for adults as an over-the-counter purchase while another 21% think people should only be able to buy them with a doctor's prescription. Just 2% say they should not be available, while 36% are not familiar with the product.

U.S. Adults' Views on Distribution of CBD Oil Products
Do you think CBD oils should be legally available for adults to purchase over the counter, available for purchase only with a doctor's prescription or not available for purchase?
Over the counter Only with prescription Not available Not familiar with No opinion
% % % % %
U.S. adults 39 21 2 36 1
Familiar with CBD oils ^ 61 33 4 -- 2
^ Based on 64% of Americans who are "very," "somewhat" or "not too familiar" with CBD oils
Gallup, May 15-30, 2019

Among those familiar with CBD oil, 61% think adults should be able to buy it over the counter and 33% say it should be available with a prescription while 4% say it shouldn't be available for purchase.

CBD is an oil extracted from the cannabis plant -- specifically the hemp form of cannabis, which has significantly lower THC content than the marijuana form. As such, CBD oil is purported to have various medical and therapeutic benefits without the hallucinogenic properties of marijuana. CBD-based products are now legal in most states, generally with restrictions such as needing to be sold through dispensaries or available only with a physicians' authorization.

CBD products are distinct from medical marijuana, although it should be noted that both products likely benefit from Americans' sympathy for the needs they fill. A recent Gallup poll found that the medical value of marijuana is one of the main reasons supporters of the broader legalization of marijuana give for their position.

Most Americans Indicate Awareness of CBD

Nearly two in three Americans indicate they have some familiarity with CBD oils, yet that includes only 14% who say they are very familiar, 33% are somewhat familiar and 17% not too familiar

Familiarity is fairly similar across societal groups, including by gender, party ID and most age categories. However, half of seniors vs. roughly two thirds of those under 65 know something about it.

U.S. Adults' Familiarity With CBD Oils
Very familiar Somewhat familiar Not too familiar Not familiar at all
% % % %
U.S. adults 14 33 17 36
18 to 29 18 35 13 33
30 to 49 16 32 22 30
50 to 64 13 39 15 34
65+ 10 27 14 49
Gallup, May 15-30, 2019

Aware Americans Think CBD Is Beneficial

Those who are familiar with CBD oils credit the substance with having health benefits, including 33% who say they have "a lot of health benefits" and 45% who say they have "some" benefits. Fewer than one in five say they only have a few (14%) or no (4%) benefits. Factoring in those not familiar with CBD, 21% of all Americans currently believe CBD has a lot of benefits and another 29% say it has some benefits.

Confidence in CBD is also much greater the more people know about it. Sixty-four percent of those who say they are very familiar with it think it has a lot of benefits, compared with 27% of those who are somewhat familiar and 21% of those not too familiar. Still, large majorities of all three groups think it has at least some benefits.

Notably, young adults who are familiar with CBD are much more likely than seniors who are familiar to say the product has a lot of benefits: 41% of those 18 to 29 vs. 24% of those 65 and older.

Perceived Health Benefits of CBD Oils -- Based on U.S Adults Who Are Familiar With CBD^
From what you know about CBD oils, do you think they offer a lot of health benefits, some health benefits, only a few health benefits or no health benefits?
A lot of benefits Some benefits Only a few benefits No health benefits No opinion
% % % % %
Total 33 45 14 4 3
18 to 29 41 41 10 5 1
30 to 49 35 41 14 4 6
50 to 64 31 51 14 2 2
65+ 24 50 18 5 2
Familiarity with CBD
Very familiar 64 29 5 1 *
Somewhat familiar 27 53 13 4 3
Not too familiar 21 44 24 5 5
^ Based on 64% of Americans who are "very," "somewhat" or "not too familiar" with CBD oils
Gallup, May 15-30, 2019

Bottom Line

The CBD-oil arena is extremely active right now, including medical research into its benefits, state legislation governing its sale, federal legislation encouraging its production and corporate investment growing in the business. According to Forbes, retail sales for CBD products were between $600 million and $2 billion last year but are expected to grow to $16 billion by 2025.

Although medical research has a long way to go to investigate all of the claims made about CBD, half of Americans already believe it has at least some medical value, and that percentage is likely to grow as more become familiar with the product.

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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