Who Uses CBD & Why: They’re older, educated, and in pain – and they’re not learning about it from their doctors

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A survey of 2,409 CBD users reported in the peer-reviewed journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, tells us that the typical CBD consumer is over 55, has a college education, and uses CBD to treat a pain-related medical condition. And they learned about CBD from internet research, family members or friends, rather than from their doctors.

Medical Conditions

Some 62% of respondents report using CBD to treat at least one medical condition, particularly for pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and sleep. This contrasts with marijuana users who largely use THC-dominant Cannabis for recreational reasons.

Thirty-six percent of CBD users say it treats their condition “very well by itself,” with only 4 % saying it doesn’t work.

Number of medical conditions for which respondents reported using CBD, by medical condition (n=3963). CBD, cannabidiol; COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder


Forty percent were between 55 and 74 years. This fits with reasons for use: With age comes the need for medical help.

Age (years)
 ≤24138 (6.33)
 25–34292 (13.40)
 35–44400 (18.36)
 45–54404 (18.54)
 55–64532 (24.41)
 65–74339 (15.56)
 ≥7574 (3.40)


Seventy-two percent were either graduates of, or currently enrolled in, college or a postgraduate program.

 Primary/middle school22 (1.01)
 High school/GED503 (23.13)
 College1138 (52.32)
 Postgraduate411 (18.90)
 Other101 (4.64)

Adverse effects

Surprisingly, 1 out of every 3 users report a side effect. The good news is they’re not serious.

Adverse effectMedical condition (n=1483) n (%)General health and well-being (n=926) n (%)Total (n=2409) n (%)
Dry mouth174 (11.73%)94 (10.15%)268 (11.12%)
Euphoria59 (3.98%)96 (10.37%)155 (6.43%)
Hunger80 (5.39%)73 (7.88%)153 (6.35%)
Other46 (3.10%)11 (1.19%)57 (2.37%)
Red eyes34 (2.29%)32 (3.46%)66 (2.74%)
Sleepy/groggy29 (1.96%)14 (1.51%)43 (1.78%)
Total adverse effects422 (28.46%)320 (34.56%)742 (30.80%)

Learning about CBD

Seventy-six percent of respondents learned about CBD from internet research, family members, or friends, rather than from doctors.

This is telling. And comports with last month’s Mayo Clinic report that says physicians are not only uninformed about CBD, they can also take a dismissive attitude toward their patients, erroneously viewing CBD as nothing more than a hot consumer trend. Instead, the Clinic says, physicians should inform themselves on the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD especially with respect to chronic pain management and “to not disregard patients’ interest in these therapies.”

Indeed, as the survey authors conclude:

A large percentage of respondents indicate that CBD treats their condition(s) effectively in the absence of conventional medicine … These data provide a compelling rationale for further research to better understand the therapeutic potential of CBD in treating chronic pain, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and other medical conditions.

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