As I stood at the window of a Weed World Candies truck on Manhattan’s Sixth Avenue last week, a gray-haired man I didn’t know tapped me on my shoulder. “It doesn’t work,” he said, motioning at the truck, which sells candies laced with a cannabis- or hemp-derived compound called cannabidiol.
“I didn’t ask you,” I responded, turning back to the window.
“It doesn’t work,” he reiterated, louder, as though it was easier to believe that he had been misheard rather than dismissed.
We went back and forth like that for several rounds, yelling at each other in 30-degree weather in front of an RV wrapped in marijuana-leaf graphics and blasting Bob Marley music. Finally, he stopped trying to enlighten me and shuffled off to let me buy my lollies in peace. As I tore into my new treats, I realized the whole thing had been a scene from the internet’s dominant cannabidiol discourse come to life: Some money had been spent and some opinions had been said, but no one had gained any information.
Cannabidiol—more commonly abbreviated as CBD—isn’t psychoactive and, apparently to the man’s disappointment, won’t get you high. Instead, many people report that consuming it makes them feel less anxious, helps them sleep, or eases joint pain. Over the past two years, CBD in the form of oils and supplements has become widely distributed across the United States, even in places with no level of cannabis legalization. Now the trend’s new frontier is food. My first clue that it had hit some kind of critical mass was seeing a local restaurant put a sign out front announcing the debut of CBD empanadas. From design-oriented Instagram seltzer to your local pizza place, brands and restaurants want you to order some CBD and eat your feelings.