As with most "national days," National CBD Day is rooted in commercial interests, indicating just how powerful the CBD industry, expected to hit upwards of $15 billion by 2025, has become in a short time.
"Think of Hallmark. There is a reason we have a Mother's Day and Father's Day: because they wanted to sell more cards. Donut Day was created by the Salvation Army around World War I. There are stories behind every one of them," explains National Day Calendar founder Marlo Anderson. "Quite frankly, every national holiday is made up, too. It just depends whether they get the national designation or not."
Holidays like Thanksgiving and the 4th of July received a national designation from Congress, but that practice slowed down significantly around 200 years ago. Until Anderson founded the National Day Calendar in 2013, most of the unofficial "national days" were organic products of societal interest, he says. But now, he explains, the government sends fanatics his way to campaign for observances like National Tater Tot Day and National Day of the Gong (two real days we can get behind).
And that's exactly what North Carolina CBD company CbdMD did in 2018. In fact, the company also successfully lobbied for a National Hemp Day, which just saw its inaugural celebration on February 4. CbdMD president Caryn Dunayer says both efforts were inspired by the lack of marketing and advertising available to hemp and CBD companies, which can be ostracized by media platforms and regulators because of their association with marijuana.
"We've tried to be strategic and creative in the marketing side," Dunayer says. "In the cannabis industry, it's extremely challenging to find traditional marketing. We can't do [search engine optimization] and social media, so we've kind of taken a guerrilla marketing approach. It started with that approach, and then the whole methodology after was trying to get attention to the education side."
hemp was just legalized federally in late 2018.
The United States Food and Drug Administration still keeps CBD derived from hemp in a gray area, but considers ingestible products containing CBD illegal, including edibles, drinks and vaporizers. CBD products face heavy scrutiny outside of states like Colorado, which have legalized recreational marijuana and hemp-infused foods, but that hasn't stopped companies from making and marketing them, and those companies generally remain out of trouble as long as they don't make any unsubstantiated health claims about the products.
"We try to be as conservative as possible with claims and testimonials, and let real stories talk for themselves," Dunayer says. "We saw the value in how much creating a day like this could help the industry. And on the marketing side, selfishly, we can take a little credit."
For Anderson and his organization, most of the criteria for adding a day comes from society's acceptance, though he insists that the National Day Calendar committee did its due diligence when considering CBD's medical efficacy and the reputation of the petitioner, CbdMD. His organization has only created 200 days during its six and a half years, he says, so it didn't take adding CBD or hemp lightly.
"There are about 20,000 applications for new days every year. Then there's a committee of four people who review them, and that needs unanimous approval. Socially, it's all becoming more accepted, even THC. But CBD has additional purposes, so it was more about bringing about the awareness," Anderson says, adding that he looked into National CBD Day's application himself. "They do tend to end up where the money leads, but it's not always that way. Some of them are for the good for the world. With that said, if you're going to celebrate a national day about something, then celebrate with it."
Along with celebratory product promotion, Dunayer says that CbdMD will post educational content on its website and social media as part of its National CBD Day campaign. Colorado companies are doing much of the same. In fact, they already view other national days as opportunities for connecting with customers.
"We're always looking for ways to amplify the message and reach different people to expand the education of CBD," says Stratos CBD branding executive Kate Heckman. Stratos has also looked at National Grandparents Day and National Massage Therapy Awareness Week to further promote the brand, she notes, suggesting that other companies in the CBD space should do the same.
"It's sort of an American thing to commercialize it, but it's also a reason to educate," she concludes.