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New Study Weighs in on Health Benefits of Pharmaceutical vs. Artisanal CBD

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As the breakneck pace of scientific inquiry into CBD continues, a new study released by the American Academy of Neurology suggests that, at least for seizure control, pharmaceutical-grade CBD might be a better treatment than “artisanal” CBD for patients battling seizure disorders. The researchers tracked the medical progress of 31 children with an average age of 10 for several months. Some were prescribed pharmaceutical CBD and others were given artisanal CBD.

The results show that the children taking pharmaceutical CBD had nearly 4 times the concentration of the compound in their blood. The patients taking artisanal CBD, on the other hand, had 70% more seizures than the pharmaceutical group, prompting researchers to conclude that pharmaceutical CBD is more effective for treating seizure disorders in children.

This finding and others like it have significant implications for the budding CBD market that is set to explode into a multi-billion-dollar industry. As a result of studies finding that artisanal CBD is less reliable in treating certain conditions, we may see a move towards tighter control over the market as the pharmaceutical giants eye the windfall profits that CBD manufacturers face.

Artisanal vs. Pharmaceutical CDB: What’s the Difference?

The distinction between artisanal and pharmaceutical lies in how the product is made and who makes it.

For all the years that CBD remained illegal, trafficked in the underground between producers and parents of children with seizures who had lost hope in other treatments and saw CBD as the only hope for their recovery, CBD was purely “artisanal” – meaning that it was produced in a non-laboratory environment using sometimes primitive means. There were no large companies and no industry to speak of in the way that we think about CBD today. Artisanal CBD contains the full spectrum of cannabinoid compounds, including THC in very small amounts. Because CBD produced in this “traditional” way involves usually inexact science and less rigid standards than a lab setting, artisanal CBD is more likely to contain other materials that got into the product during the production phase.

As CBD entered the mainstream, pharmaceutical giants looked to get in on the action. The FDA approved CBD for two types of seizures, opening the door legally to begin development and mass production of commercially-produced CBD.

Which Do Customers Prefer?

Many factors go into consumer decision-making regarding CBD. Generally speaking, the pharmaceutical industry is not well respected or liked by the general public, for a variety of reasons. One report, in fact, concluded that only 13% of Americans trust pharmaceutical companies.

Additionally, consumers may opt for artisanal CBD, despite its less impressive quality, because of the relationships and reputation built up over the years in the underground economy. Many people personally know someone who is in the artisanal CBD business, meaning they are more likely to trust them than a faceless pharmaceutical manufacturer that is new to the scene.


One of the major reasons for the uncharitable public opinion towards the pharmaceutical industry is its pricing. The industry is notorious for spiking prices, marking up products thousands of percentage points beyond their production costs.

GW Pharmaceuticals has enjoyed windfall profits on the sales of its new CBD medicine, Epidiolex.

Many consumers are rightly wary of pharmaceutical companies like GW that could throw their economic weight around in the near future to clamp down on their competitors in the artisanal sector, potentially leaving only pharmaceutical CBD products in the marketplace.

The regulatory and marketing battle between these two very different camps will likely heat up in the coming years with so much money on the line.

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