As the rapid decriminalization and legalization of Cannabis spreads across the United States, the increasing popularity of cannabis and cannabis byproducts, namely cannabidiol also known as CBD, is also skyrocketing. CBD is a compound that can be extracted from cannabis, which includes marijuana and hemp.

Along with legalization comes normalization; meaning the accepted use of CBD is more widespread and diverse than ever before. By removing the stigma that has surrounded the use of CBD for many decades — which limited the popularity of such products — CBD has found a home among proponents of holistic medicines.

Many recreational and medicinal cannabis users often prefer CBD, which comes in many different forms, including ointments, oils, capsules, and edibles. This is because the extracts have the medicinal and therapeutic properties of cannabis without the psychoactive properties of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

As we examine the diversity among the users of CBD, we will examine and discuss one of the few, if not the only research studies conducted on the use of CBD among adults in the United States (outside of industry reports which may be biased as a result). Even so, the study shows that the majority of adults surveyed are using cannabis for its medicinal properties. (Please note that this article is merely examining the results of a research study conducted on CBD users and in no way should be taken as medical advice — we’re simply interested in knowing who is using CBD and why).

Diversity of users surveyed

A survey of over 2000 participants conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) titled A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users examined the who, how, and why people choose to use CBD products. The results of this study were not too far off from what one could imagine!

The survey begins by introducing the demographic of adults surveyed. This breakdown showed an even distribution of participants across age, geographic regions (States mostly), education levels, how often they use cannabidiol and if so why they prefer to use it. I should remind you that this is one of the only studies published on the matter and it has been peer-researched and gone the whole-nine yards to do so.

The research and methodology of this study concluded that 47.4% of users surveyed were male while 50.87% we female with 1.73% of participants declining to state.

The socio-demographic breakdown of those studied shows that the users age broke down as follows:


 24 & under:     6.33%

25-34:              13.4%

35-44:              18.36%

45-54:              18.54%

65-74:              24.41%

75 & older:         3.4%

Pretty evenly spread out right? For those who are interested in examining the validity of the sample size, the entire socio-demographic breakdown can be viewed here

Who uses CBD?

This is a significant finding in understanding the demographic of adults who use CBD instead of THC and over-the-counter medications for its therapeutic and non-psychoactive properties.

In short, the research study concluded that the most common CBD users were women over men, with frequency increasing with age with the primary reason for using being to treat chronic pain, migraines, and anxiety disorders. The full breakdown can be viewed here as well. 

According to this study, the main contrast between CBD users and say, THC users, is that CBD is primarily used in circumstances that require therapeutic and medicinal remedies such as chronic pain, migraines, and anxiety.

In fact, CBD is incredibly useful in treating disorders such as anxiety and other panic disorders (you can read about CBD and the treatment of Anxiety disorders here).

While this study is one of the few on CBD users themselves, there has been extensive research on the treatment of pain, migraines, and anxiety with CBD. This study, conducted in 2016 found that CBD “significantly reduced joint swelling, limb posture scores as a rating of spontaneous pain, immune cell infiltration and thickening of the synovial membrane in a dose-dependent manner. PWL recovered to near baseline level in rats.“ Additionally, the research found that exploratory behavior was not altered, meaning that higher brain function was not altered by cannabidiol.

This is a significant finding in understanding the demographic of adults who use CBD instead of THC and over-the-counter medications for its therapeutic and non-psychoactive properties.

Of the total number of participants,  just over 2,400 adults aged 18 to 75 years old, over 60 percent of users reported using CBD to treat a medical condition. The study identified, “a minimum of 3963 medical conditions [that] were reported. This represents an average of more than two and a half (mean: 2.67) different medical conditions per respondent.”

Why is this? Well, If you consider the normal levels of wear-and-tear that happen as you age, it’s easy to understand why people would use CBD to treat pain more frequently. Traditional medications can be hard for the liver to breakdown causing even more damage with prolonged usage.

Surprisingly, CBD can be administered in so many ways that there were as many as 4,135 methods for administering CBD given during the research study.

Can you use CBD to treat animals?

Yes! CBD usage doesn’t end with human treatment. In fact, there are plenty of veterinarians out there who are in favor of using CBD to treat many of the same conditions and disorders as humans! (like anxiety, pain, and seizures).

CBD for cats and dogs

Just as it happened with humans, with the legalization of cannabis from state to state, there has been an influx of CBD products that are marketed towards pet owners. Pet MD, a website authored and approved by vets, writes that,

“unlike some traditional pain medicine for dogs, medical cannabis has no life-threatening side effects with proper dosage.”

It doesn’t damage the kidney, liver, or gastrointestinal tract. The dogs aren’t high or sedated either. This makes CBD products very appealing to those who own aging pets or those with chronic pain and stress disorders.

CBD and Horses

Researchers at Kentucky Equine Research (KER) are continuing to examine CBD trends and their effects. CBD and Hemp oil are commonly used to treat horses because the oils contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their health benefits.

Omega-3s are beneficial to the nervous system so both mature and young horses alike benefit from CBD oils. Supplementation of CBD and Hemp oil alike decreases stress, improves learning and cognition.

As more research comes out, I’m certain that the popularity and usage of CBD for its therapeutic properties in both humans and animals will only continue to increase. One of the reasons that research is limited is due to the classification of cannabis as a narcotic federally — this prohibits researchers and universities that receive Federal funding from researching it. Once legalization reaches all 50 states, a flood of information is sure to follow.