Lantana Spa Offers a Look into the CBD Trend at Hotel Spas

By Shane Kelly Spa Director, JW Marriott San Antonio | August 25, 2019

In recent years, the Lantana Spa team at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa has seen the spa and wellness industry growing exponentially. Hotel and resort spas were once after-thoughts or just an added amenity of the hotel. Now, they have not only become a major revenue source but a necessity for potential guests searching where to book their stays.

The spa industry grew by 6.4% annually from 2015–2017, from a $3.7 to a $4.2 trillion market, nearly twice as fast as global economic growth. Wellness tourism is a $639 billion market in 2017, projected to reach $919 billion by 2022. Wellness tourism grew by 6.5% annually from 2015–2017, more than twice as fast as tourism overall (3.2% annually, based on Euromonitor data) (McGroarty, 2018).

The evolution of the spa industry is an ongoing, cyclical process of trying to find the next hot trend that consumers are looking for. Perennial topics always include the latest in youth and anti-aging treatments for skincare, while the newest in cosmetics such as Brazilian blowouts or dip powder nails provide new sources of inspirations for new treatments for consumers. This constant change in trends and fads in marketing by the beauty industry has traditionally led to prevailing with their products over conventional, holistic alternatives.

JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

However, precipitated by change in federal legislation leading to what is arguably one of the hottest and most controversial trends in the beauty, health, and wellness market today is non-psychoactive cannabinoids (CBDs).

Cannabis use has seen varying degrees of legalization despite ongoing regulation at the federal level, and this partial decriminalization has been the catalyst for what has been a boom in the study of the hemp plant for alternative medicinal benefits. The popularity of the CBDs as both a topical and oral agent to combat afflictions such as chronic pain and anxiety is well documented in both historical anecdotal evidence, but also more recently in more rigorously controlled instances (see "Selective modulation of the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptor as an emerging platform for the treatment of neuropathic pain," Bannister et al, 2019).

Conversely, we are seeing the emerging trend of its use as an ingredient in gourmet and health food and beverages, in what CNN recently called it "USA's coolest food and drink ingredient." In 2018 Adriaen Block (touted the "first CBD restaurant and bar in NYC") opened in Aestoria, NY. The eatery has more than a dozen menu items intended to be served with CBD, and the goal is to mix "the pleasure of craft cocktails and well-made food with the numerous benefits of CBD oil" (Executive, 2018).

The spa industry is also now seeing the the introduction of cannabanoids into nearly every segment of their services.

Lantana Spa at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa

The CBD Trend

In the spa industry, everyone seems to have a CBD product in its offerings or is in the process of developing one. Based on the frenetic paces of production and outreach vendors are doing, CBDs are no longer considered to be a momentary fad or on the fringe.

Lantana Spa plans to incorporate CBD into spa treatments in the near future. As this market demand continues to increase, Lantana Spa is still evaluating and researching the best products and treatments we want to provide for our guests. We are looking at where the product is sourced, how it is sourced, and the delivery method as well as the potency of the CBD to make sure we are in line with government regulations. We want to ensure we are providing the optimum product while also ensuring the safety of our guests and associates.

It is important to understand what CBDs are and what started the stigma leading to its controversial status.

What are CBDs?

CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is one of the 100+ cannabinoids compounds found in Cannabis sativa, or more commonly known as hemp. Extracted and purified into an oil, it is non-psychoactive and plays a significant role communicating with the body's endocannabinoid System. Cannabis is a genus of flowering plants in the Cannabaceae family, which consists of three primary species: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. Furthering confusion, hemp and marijuana are interchangeably referred to using terms such as species, strains, and cultures of Cannabis (Cardena, 2018); rather, it is improper from a taxonomic viewpoint.

What is Hemp and When Did it Become a Taboo Term?

By definition, hemp distinguished from other more well-known varieties of Cannabis by containing "0.3% or less THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) content (by dry weight)". While the legal definition described above had not been legitimized until the Agricultural Act of 2018, historically hemp has generally referred to describe non-intoxicating Cannabis that is harvested for the industrial use of its derived products.

With evidence of its use recorded throughout history, including the discovery of material made from hemp predating modern human civilization, many believe that hemp was the of the first crop ever cultivated by mankind. Prior to the 1800s, it was prevalent to see products (such as textiles) using hemp but after the invention of the cotton gin, hemp consumption and production was reduced because cotton was much more comfortable, cheaper, and ultimately more profitable to produce for textiles. In the early 1900s, George Schlichten introduced the "Hemp Decorticator," aiming to revolutionize the hemp industry much in the same way as the as the cotton gin did.

Unfortunately, negative propaganda skyrocketed about the cannabis plant, tanking any prospects about the plant being used more commercially with W.R. Hearst fabricating stories in his newspapers about this new drug called "marihuana". It is important to note that before his articles, "marihuana" was never used as slang for cannabis-it was intentionally done to demonize this plant with a new name playing off racist stereotypes common in the era. This culminated with one of the most infamous propaganda movies in 1936 called Reefer Madness, portraying it as the most dangerous drug in the world.

In reaction, congressional legislation led to passing of the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, strictly regulated the cultivation and sale of all cannabis varieties irrespective of its use. Furthering the segregation from the public mind, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 classified all forms of cannabis (including hemp) as a Schedule I drug (HH Hemp Helps, 2019). 

Is CBD Legal?

A common misconception about the recently passed 2018 Farm Bill is that it legalized CBD regardless of if it was derived from hemp or marijuana; however, this is not true. Based on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), CBD is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance. However, if the CBD is derived from hemp (which contains no more than 0.3% THC), it would not be regulated as a controlled substance and is therefore federally legal. Important to note are the keywords "derived from hemp."

The 2018 Farm Bill explicitly applies to "hemp and hemp-derived products." It does not include marijuana-derived CBD, which remains under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a controlled substance. Even if the CBD contains 0.0% THC, if it is derived from marijuana, it is not legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill (Cardena, 2018).

Since the subject of CBDs is now considered mainstream with consumers, oversight is trying to catch up. In April 2019, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb M.D. released the following statement about CBDs:

"In recent years, we've seen a growing interest in the development of therapies and other FDA-regulated consumer products derived from cannabis (Cannabis sativa L.) and its components, including cannabidiol (CBD). This interest spans the range of product categories that the agency regulates…Among other things, this law established a new category of cannabis classified as "hemp" – defined as cannabis and cannabis derivatives with extremely low…concentrations of the psychoactive compound [THC]… At the same time, Congress explicitly preserved the FDA's current authority to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and section 351 of the Public Health Service Act" (Scott Gottlieb, 2019).

Given the recent changes in how this product is defined, one can make the argument it is vital to research the source of the CBD ingredients prior to purchasing product that may be considered over the counter available, monitor regulations that may be changing in the near future in your area (as not all states or regions permit the growing of cannabis irrespective of use), and to constrain and limit the claims that these possible products may provide to limit legal liability (see above cited FD&C Act and the more legally rigorous Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914).