Big Box Enters CBD Sales: What Could it Mean for CBD Regulation, Use & Education?

CBD-based products are going mainstream faster than expected; at the end of March, both CVS and Walgreens shocked the public by announcing plans to bring CBD products to many of their stores in select states. Now months later, myriad additional retailers have chosen to follow suit with CBD stock of their own.

Hemp-derived CBD creams, sprays, and patches made up the first wave of this roll-out, with the two retailers selecting 12 states to lead the new program. Shoppers in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee saw these products hit shelves at both Walgreens and CVS. Walgreens’ CBD reach extends to Oregon, New Mexico, Vermont, and South Carolina, while CVS serves Alabama, California, and Maryland.

Interestingly enough, those brands following in the footsteps of the aforementioned pharmacies don’t belong to one specific category. Instead, CBD is finding its way into stores specializing in everything from groceries, beauty supplies, wellness products, and even clothing. With store counts reaching the quadruple digits in some cases, this is a massive and exciting expansion that very few saw coming.

Health: The Deciding Factor

According to both drugstore chains, this move is one made primarily with consumer needs in mind. CVS Health Spokesperson Mike DeAngelis explained that the chain is starting to “carrying hemp-derived CBD products... to help meet consumer demand for alternative care options,” while Walgreens spokesman Brian Faith described the competing brand’s intentions similarly: “This product offering is in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and wellbeing products and services to best meet the needs and preferences of our customers”.

Simply by stocking CBD products on their shelves, these brands have sparked a wave of positive change long-awaited by doctors and patients alike. As of now, an additional fifteen or more companies have jumped head-first into CBD sales.

Though the CBD roll-outs of Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, DSW, The Vitamin Shoppe, Ulta, and Saks Fifth Ave in January, February, and March precluded those of Walgreens and CVS, all were somewhat overshadowed by the drugstores’ decision to offer products in the category. Now, each company is receiving increased attention for being at the forefront of CBD inclusion. With over 900 stores collectively, these brands served valiantly at the vanguard and developed foundations on which CBD products have been able to spread rapidly. These retailers offer products from Green Growth Brands, Wildflower Brands, Curaleaf, and more.

Following the March announcements by CVS and Walgreens, the frequency with which similar announcements were made saw a noticeable increase. April started strong with CBD implementation by GNC, Rite Aid (as many could expect based on pressure from rivals), Urban Outfitters, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Urban Outfitters specifically being within the realm of trendsetting brands, their inclusion on this list is quite notable.

In June, four additional names joined the ranks of their peers. Abercrombie & Fitch, Dillard’s, Kroger, and Sephora all began selling CBD products from distributors like Green Growth Brands and Wildflower Brands. The addition of Kroger marks the first grocery chain we’ve seen. The company’s relatively recent decision to carry such products likely means that we’ll see additional chains in the category follow along shortly. Macy’s, meanwhile, has shown interest in CBD but has not yet implemented a plan for carrying such products. The company apparently hopes to work with CBD within the next two years, however.

Explaining the near-immediate rise in CBD’s popularity may be difficult as benefits come in several forms. Of course, patient health remains at the top of the list for doctors, whose suggestions often bear significant weight for the companies offering medical solutions. The effectiveness of certain traditional healthcare products and treatments can vary by patient, leading physicians and patients to consider alternatives. Doing so can be difficult when options like CBD are out of bounds due to legal restrictions. The implication of drugstore heavyweights like CVS and Walgreens carrying CBD products, along with all of the other brands who have emulated this installation, is that patients can and should be given a wider array of choices and that healthcare should not be restricted to the sometimes-dangerous prescription medications used to treat some of the same conditions as CBD-based products.

The Skyrocketing Popularity of CBD

CBD can be found almost everywhere in states that allow it. Alex Williams, a New York Times writer, summarized the abrupt shift perfectly: “It’s hard to say the precise moment when CBD, the voguish cannabis derivative, went from being a fidget spinner alternative for stoners to a mainstream panacea.” CBD products are invading nearly all industries at once, and evidence of negative experiences with these goods seem to be few and far between.

Ailments both physical and psychological are purported to be remedied by CBD-based products. The items carried by Walgreens and CVS have applications for everything from acne to anxiety, though there are many, many more options waiting in the wings.

In fact, the CBD market is larger than it was ever expected to be. According to Inc. Editor Kimberly Weisul, it’s “tricky to figure out how big the industry is and how much bigger it could get” because of the fact that CBD “currently operates on the boundaries of legality.” However, Weisul also gathered information from Brightfield and Hemp Business Journal showing that these analysts prediction the CBD market to reach between $646 million and $22 billion respectively by 2022.


The fact that the properties of CBD remain something of an unknown still incites concern despite evidence consistently pointing to positive effects. Research is finally picking up but remains slow due to the many legal barriers surrounding the cannabis plant. Unfortunately, CBD and hemp-derived products in general frequently are stigmatized and misunderstood, and any efforts toward public exposure like these made by Walgreens, CVS, and these other retailers inspire more hope for broader and more accurate education and understanding.

These brands’ missions to provide alternative healing products are admirable, and fans of CBD have every right to be excited. As sales increase, opportunities for new and more innovative goods to reach mainstream markets may very well become available in more retail locations like these. Additionally, increased sales mean increased sample sizes for researchers to further study the effects of such products.

If you live in one of the 12 included states mentioned above, consider exploring the CBD options when they arrive at local stores, and if you do choose to do so and find the results effective, spread the word! Positive messages are extremely helpful to the widespread availability of alternative health and wellbeing solutions like CBD. One thing to keep in mind, however, is to carefully consider your CBD options and educate yourself to make sure CBD is the right option for you. And of course, it’s always important to follow the dosing guidelines and ask a doctor if you have any other questions about whether CBD products are right for you and how best to use them as part of your overall wellness plan.

Commercial CBD Sales

Luis Enrique R. Liogier-Weyback, MD is the founder of Doctor Jane, Florida’s most discreet, professional and convenient concierge medical cannabis practice. Doctor Jane provides South Florida patients and their caregivers with a safe space where they can exercise their right to access medical cannabis therapy in an environment of their choosing, free from stigma and complications. To learn more about Doctor Jane, visit

About Doctor Jane

Doctor Jane is South Florida’s most discreet, professional, and convenient concierge medical cannabis practice. Dr. Luis Enrique R. Liogier-Weyback and his wife, Katie Liogier-Weyback, B.S., R.N., founded Doctor Jane on the core tenets of bringing personal, convenient, professional and discreet patient care to the medical cannabis treatment process. Doctor Jane provides South Florida patients and their caregivers with a safe space where they can exercise their right to access medical cannabis therapy in an environment of their choosing, free from stigma and complications.

Visit our website to find out more or to schedule your own medical cannabis consultation.

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