Made by hand, the dark chocolate espresso chews from Lord Jones are designed to attract the most discerning of foodies. They're sourced, the company says, with the finest Ecuadorian dark chocolate and packaged in a colorful cardboard box emblazoned with the brand's royal crest. But these aren't your grandmother's chocolate chews. The confections contain CBD, an extract derived from hemp plants that's quickly becoming a panacea for the aches and pains associated with everything from menstrual cramps to cancer.
"The whole idea behind the brand was to normalize the use of
these compounds for wellness and to destigmatize it," says Robert
Rosenheck, a former ad exec who founded Lord Jones five years
Priced at $30 a box, Lord Jones chocolates epitomize the upscale possibilities associated with hemp-derived CBD products. The brand, which began wholesaling in January and now sells at 100 boutiques nationwide, is collaborating with the Standard Hotel to stock its minibars, and has partnered with Icelandic band Sigur Rós on medicated sound baths. (For the uninitiated, that's a sort of music-meditation blend that does not include water.) Gone are the grungy stoner tropes popularized in pothead flicks like "Up in Smoke" and "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"; this new breed of retailers and brands is promoting a more aspirational lifestyle associated with wellness and health.
Unlike their THC cousins, CBD products specifically promise relief from a variety of ailments, including nausea, inflammation, anxiety, arthritis, psoriasis and migraines. Some oils offer different mood treatments. And it helps from a retail perspective that these products don't get you high. Unlike marijuana-derived extracts, CBD (cannabidiol) has a negligible amount of THC, the compound that provides psychoactive effects, and is primarily associated with medical benefits, which is why a host of new companies are popping up offering their tokes—er, takes—on the trend.
Roughly 300 brands now offer CBD products—up from some 200 a year ago, according to Brightfield Group, a three-year-old Chicago-based market research firm focused on the cannabis and CBD industry. In 2017, total sales of hemp CBD were nearly $287.3 million, and the market is expected to hit $1 billion by 2020, according to Brightfield. Trend forecasters are calling out the growing field and its homeopathic implications as an alternative to pharmaceuticals.
"The anxiety epidemic is so high ... there's huge interest in natural or organic pain relief," says Faith Popcorn, futurist and founder of BrainReserve. "Millennials and Gen Z in particular tell us that they love natural, and of course, boomers love all things weed. There's a lot of wide opportunity."
If you can eat it or put it on your skin, it can be infused with CBD. In addition to chocolate chews, Lord Jones also sells CBD gumdrops, while some companies dabble in lollipops and others offer a shot of CBD oil in coffee, smoothies and plain old lemonade. Of course, many simply sell tinctures in dropper bottles. In Los Angeles, there's a growing movement toward the CBD "power lunch," which, even for L.A., seems extreme. At downtown restaurant Spring, three CBD-infused courses will cost you $37.
The CBD trend is "getting more glamorous, more designed, more stylish," says Popcorn.