Why Big Pharma Feared CBD until Recently
Published 12 Jul 2020

Cannabidiol, the active compound in CBD oil products, is causing Big Pharma sleepless nights. With legalization of cannabis spreading across the United States, the world, cannabinoid research is revolutionizing medical science. Prohibition labeled cannabis with all manner of stereotypes, but studies are challenging every one of them. Society is more accepting of cannabis than ever. The stigma is over.

Big Pharma vs. CBD

There is no denying the threat that CBD poses to the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, as more studies emerge lauding the therapeutic properties of CBD, more and more folks ditch pharmaceuticals. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the many dangerous and addictive side effects of pharmaceuticals come with huge environmental concerns too. People have had enough.

CBD is changing how we understand and treat disease. It offers a single answer to many problems, a feat Big Pharma is yet to achieve. The world is shifting its drug paradigm. Now, with legalization, the social and economic effects of cannabis will likely exceed even the most liberal predictions. There is no denying the role Big Pharma will play in these changes, and that they will influence Big Pharma too.

Should the drug industry fear it though?


Money drives every discussion, especially for Big Pharma. Does cannabis, CBD especially, have any financial advantage to threaten pharmaceutical corporates? The top-selling drugs on the market are for treating cancer. Vaccine revenues exceed $6 billion already and are set to skyrocket once a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available. Rheumatoid arthritis drugs rake in almost $20 billion for Big Pharma.

These are sizeable profits. There are drugs for every ache, every pain, every illness, every issue, from mild to severe, and from treatable to terminal. The CBD market is still in its infancy, but already projections for it are exploding, with some models putting it in the same bracket as pharmaceuticals. The California cannabis market alone made over $5 billion just in 2019. This is not spare change.

CBD is already chipping away at Big Pharma’s profits, and in a very big way. As studies prove it safe and effective for treating Big Pharma’s biggest money-spinners, such as cancer, the threat is certainly real. For the first time, the drug industry has a real competitor in cannabinoids, especially in CBD. Folks are using it, increasingly, and with ease. They can buy CBD oil online. You cannot do that with drugs.


The opioid crisis is possibly the biggest threat to the drug industry. Opioids create dependency. They keep folks coming back for more. Opioids are under huge threat by CBD and cannabis in general. Cannabinoids might not be powerful enough yet to remove the need for some medicines, but they certainly can remove the need for opiates. Entirely. Opiates form a huge part of the drug market.

However, they are dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, opioids kill around 130 people every day. The main reason doctors prescribe opioids is to treat chronic pain, regardless of its cause or source, and most especially to treat arthritic pain, one of Big Pharma’s most profitable drugs. This is significant. CBD can fix the opioid crisis and get people off these deadly drugs.


If there is any real threat to Big Pharma, is it cannabinoid research. Its effect is already profound. As legalization continues its rapid worldwide spread, it is freeing the plant for study. Prohibition made this difficult for at least a century, but now scientists are investigating CBD with gusto. With fervor. Even with all of its potential benefits, study has been near impossible until now.

Research restrictions, lack of funding, and stigma all made study difficult in the past. Only the very bravest tried. Most cannabis used in research belongs to the federal government, and a quick browse through its websites shows they are specifically looking for harms and not benefits. However, public opinion is powerful. As society accepts cannabis, scientists are finding enormous promise from CBD.

Emerging science is sufficient to concern Big Pharma greatly. Studies are finding CBD with hundreds of therapeutic applications. They are finding it with hundreds of medicinal properties. They are finding it capable of replacing many drugs Big Pharma pushes, and without any side effects, dependency issues, or dangers whatsoever. Unlike pharmaceuticals, CBD is 100 percent safe, incapable of causing harm.

Big Pharma Joins the Fray

Legalization does provide Big Pharma one opportunity: It can also involve itself in CBD research and development. As expectable, this it is doing. With even more money and resources than anybody else. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, CBD is now the target for many new therapeutic drugs. Already, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration approved Epidiolex for treating child epilepsy.

More are on their way. Big Pharma is investing heavily in CBD, and even in cannabigerol, or CBG, another highly beneficial cannabinoid with immense medical potential. It is adding these compounds to a new range of drugs. Soon, you will find pure CBD oil for sale by Big Pharma itself, albeit it indirectly. Directly, you will find new pharmaceutical drugs using CBD as its primary active ingredient.

Collaboration for CBD Oil Products

Many worried of an all-out war between Big Pharma and the CBD industry. With the pharmaceutical industry now embracing CBD for an array of new therapeutic interventions, it seems an alternative outcome more likely. It is possible for the two industries to collaborate, as we see with Sativex and Epidiolex, two cannabinoid-based pharmaceuticals by Big Pharma already.

Collaboration would be best for all. Most especially for consumers and medical patients. Both markets can offer each other much. If they work together, any threat to Big Pharma diminishes. War is unnecessary. However, if Big Pharma attempts to dominate, even monopolize the industry, trouble might brew. We hope it is willing to share the pie: A pie big enough for everyone to have a slice.


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