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The Skift Wellness newsletter is our weekly dispatch focused on what’s happening in wellness from a global business standpoint. Skift Wellness lives where wellness meets commerce, mindfulness meets technology, the yoga studio meets the boardroom, and health meets business.
We wrote last week about how CVS is now stocking its shelves with CBD products like pain-relief ointments and creams from Medterra and Curaleaf (the CVS announcement, by the way, sent Curaleaf’s stock soaring).
Even though CVS can’t legally sell CBD edibles, such as supplements or food products, it sees a big enough demand already for salves and lotions. “Anecdotally, we’ve heard from our customers who have used those products that, ‘Gee, it’s helped with pain relief for arthritis and other ailments,’” said CVS CEO Larry Merlo.
Not to be outdone, Walgreens just announced it will add CBD products to its lineup, too. It’s an obvious move — the drugstore giant likely doesn’t want to miss out on this CBD trend, especially as momentum builds. Still, both companies are only rolling out these offerings in select states to test out the goods in places already familiar with CBD and hemp products, like Colorado and Kentucky.
Based on consumer demand, both companies will likely see this as a first step, with many more products to follow. Consider Walgreens spokesperson Brian Faith, who said the CBD offerings are “in line with our efforts to provide a wider range of accessible health and well-being products.”
In other hemp news, black chefs are working to create a space within the predominantly white cannabis culinary and medicinal scene. It makes sense, as people of color are much more often the targets of law enforcement and have had to push back against racism and stigmatization when trying to break into the industry, even in states where cannabis is legal.
“The system is currently set up for inequity to continue,” said Seattle-based chef Unika Noiel. “It forced me to accept the fact that as a black woman and entrepreneur here in Washington state, I would not be allowed to ‘receive any sort of gain from cannabis’ — a direct quote from a city official.”
Even as the CBD and cannabis industry is on an upswing in the U.S., not everyone has the same advantages. We’ll see if these chefs and other thought leaders can change that.
— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor
CBD Goes Even More Mainstream With Walgreens Announcement: To keep up with its drugstore rival CVS, Walgreens announced that it will soon sell CBD products, such as creams, patches, and sprays, in 1,500 locations across Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, South Carolina, Illinois, and Indiana. While states continue to ban CBD-infused food and drink, more are allowing it in skincare products. It’s a natural entry point for retailers, as well as a booming segment of the CBD industry. Read more here.
Black Chefs Are Taking a Stand Against Racism in the Cannabis Industry: While some rejoiced the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the commercial production of hemp, not everyone could celebrate. People with a controlled substance felony aren’t able to participate in the burgeoning cannabis industry for 10 years post-conviction. What’s more, black people are almost four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, according to the ACLU. Chefs like Matt Stockard, who makes medicinal cannabis cooking oils, have been pushing back. Read more here.
How Foot Locker Made Itself Relevant in 2019: It seemed as if Foot Locker would go the way of Payless or Sears. But instead of accepting retail defeat, the company has done an about-face, positioning itself not just as a sneaker shop, but a “hub for local sneaker culture, art, music, and sports.” In 2019 alone, Foot Locker has invested in four buzzy brands like GOAT, a sneaker resale site, and Pensole, a sneaker design academy. It has also turned its attention toward in-store experiences — a wise move to connect with its audience. Read more here.
Peloton Faces a Legal Battle Over Music Rights: The fitness streaming, cycling, and treadmill company seemed like it had everything in order heading into a potential IPO this year. But a new $150 million lawsuit reveals a different story: Peloton didn’t have licenses for some of the music played during its workouts, including top-selling artists like Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran. Even though the company says it’s removing the unlicensed songs, the oversight doesn’t look good for the brand. Read more here.
Clean Hair Care Startup Playa Continues to Grow: While the clean hair care market may be niche at this point — at Sephora.com, for example, only 50 out of 540 hair styling and treatment products sold are considered “clean” — brands within the space have been experiencing rapid growth. Playa, a clean hair care line that launched in 2017, earned $1 million in revenue in its first year, $4 million to $5 million in year two, and expects to grow by 350 percent in 2019. Plus, it plans to double its product line this year, reflecting a belief that customers want more clean beauty. Read more here.
Health & Medicine
This Company Is Betting You’ll Be Up for a Gut Check: The term “gut health” gets thrown around a lot in wellness-oriented circles. But how do you know if your microbiome is operating at full capacity? Enter the startup Viome. Customers can send in a stool sample (yep, you read that right), and Viome’s artificial intelligence technology will determine what’s living in your gut and if the food you’re eating is helping or hurting your system. It will then deliver an action plan via its app. In the era of personalized health, Viome could find a passionate audience. Read more here.
Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.