CBD is a booming industry, and getting bigger all the time. A recent report even found that CBD use has increased by 3% since March of 2020, as more people turned to CBD for anxiety and pain relief support during Covid-19.
Women have been consistently pushing the CBD market forward as the fastest growing demographic for years, and more than one study has found that women use CBD more than men. For example, a CBD study from the Brightfield Group and HelloMD with 2,400 participants found that 58% of CBD users were women. A study by Ease used data on over 450,000 cannabis consumers and 4,000 survey respondents found that female baby boomers represented the largest segment of CBD users and were driving the surge in CBD use. It’s clear that women tend to be more drawn to CBD than men are, but what is the reason for this trend? Why do women buy more CBD than men?
Looking into the data, men and women actually report using CBD for very similar reasons. Pain, anxiety and sleep are the three top reasons that both groups use CBD, according to multiple reports and studies. Both men and women also report using CBD for medical conditions, and for general health and wellness. Still, amongst these reasons, there is some variation. A poll by Gallup found that men and women tend to use CBD for pain at similar rates, but women are more likely to use CBD for anxiety, with 25% of women using it this way compared to only 14% of men. On the other hand, men are more likely to use CBD for sleep. 15% of men used CBD to help get more rest in this study, compared to only 8% of women.
Men and women also tend to vary in whether they use cannabis for a medical condition or just general wellness, although both groups use CBD for both reasons. In a study from the Journal of Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research of 2409 respondents, researchers found that women were more likely to be using CBD to treat a medical condition, while men were more likely to be using CBD for general health and wellness.
Since women tend to use CBD to treat medical conditions and are more likely to use it for anxiety relief, it’s worth noting two reasons why CBD may be a more attractive cannabis option for women than using higher THC options. THC is a highly psychoactive compound, which is plentiful in most cannabis products. It can help with pain relief and anxiety but also sometimes leaves people feeling too high to be fully functional throughout the day. For those treating medical conditions with cannabis, they may need more regular dosing throughout the day to manage their condition. Since women are also more likely to have childcare responsibilities, they may have even more need to avoid highs that could impact functionality. So CBD may be a more usable option for women seeking ongoing, daily use, in the midst of other responsibilities.
It’s also important to note that THC can differentially impact men and women when it comes to anxiety, since women are more likely to use cannabis for anxiety relief. While THC is known to relieve anxiety in some, it can also lead to increased anxiety for others (and sometimes can lead to either outcome in the same individual depending on the dose). But this risk for anxiety may be particularly heightened for women. A recent study from John Hopkins University found women may be more likely than men to get anxiety-related symptoms from cannabis use. So those women seeking anxiety relief (which the data shows many women clearly are) may be turning to CBD specifically because it can give them more reliable relief without adding to their anxiety symptoms. Men on the other hand, seem to be less interested in treating anxiety, and less likely to experience it as a result of high THC cannabis use.
Men and women also seem to differ in the types of CBD products they use. While few studies have looked at male CBD product preferences specifically, we do have general data for both genders together, and data on women specifically. For example, the CBD study from Brightfield Group and HelloMD found that in general, the most common ways to use CBD were vape cartridges at 59%, high CBD Flower at 50%, and topicals at 43%. But a study looking specifically at female CBD consumers found that tinctures, edibles and topicals were the most commonly used, with different percentages depending on the age of the CBD consumer. All age groups of women used tinctures more than any other method, but baby boomers used them the most. While millennials also reported using tinctures more than any other method, they were far more likely to vape CBD than any other age group.
These differences between female preferences and general preferences line up with data on general cannabis use preferences between men and women, which suggest that men are more likely to use flower or concentrates while women are more likely to use edibles and tinctures. Since CBD tinctures are plentiful, while CBD flower can be a little harder to find, this may also drive women rather than men towards CBD products. Meanwhile men may be more drawn to the abundant options for cannabis flower and concentrates – which tend to be dominated by high THC varieties.
So why do women buy more CBD than men? We may need more data to fully answer this question, but the studies currently available suggest that women may prioritize the functionality and anxiety relief found with CBD, and prefer the methods of use that are easy to find with CBD products such as tinctures and topicals. Still, this is just scratching the surface. With more studies, we may be able to discover even more.