With more and more people reaching for CBD to manage everything from chronic pain to cardiovascular disease, popular retailers are starting to stock CBD products on their shelves. It’s likely a matter of time before CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, enters the mainstream in earnest. Signs of this popularization are evident on the shelves of major retailers, largely in the health and beauty industries. However, local drug stores are starting to get in on the action, too. A growing number of drug store chains carry CBD products on store shelves.
While the unclear legal status of CBD remains an obstacle for many national retailers, an increasing number of chain drug stores are stocking CBD in some states. Because of the patchy availability of CBD, finding which local drug stores carry CBD can be challenging. As a general rule, states with legal cannabis programs have more brick-and-mortar CBD buying options.
Here, we examine the availability of CBD at the top five drug stores in the US, taking a close look at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid, and Kroger. We’ll find out which local drug stores carry CBD products, what types of products they offer, where to find them in stores, and which brands they work with.
Which Local Drug Stores Carry CBD Products?
While CBD products aren’t quite mainstream yet, the tide is shifting that way quickly. Currently, CBD products are available in some capacity at each of the biggest national pharmacies. However, it isn’t quite that simple. Due to state restrictions and a lack of clarity at the federal level about the legal status of hemp, national chains sometimes face roadblocks to stocking CBD. For this reason, which local drug stores carry CBD depends largely on where you live.
Since all forms of hemp and marijuana remain illegal in South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska, you won’t be able to purchase CBD products of any kind in physical stores in these states. However, other states allow the sale of CBD in stores, though some have restrictions surrounding the licensing for would-be CBD retailers.
These restrictions are the main reason that CBD isn’t (yet) available nationwide. Think about it: CBD is a booming industry, and businesses of all types are eager to cash in. In order to do so, however, they have to work with state regulatory agencies to sell CBD and hemp products legally. Companies take different approaches to this (which we’ll discuss individually), and consequently offer different products.
There’s an additional complication to consider when looking for CBD at your local drug store too: you may not be able to find what you need. Most major retailers only carry topicals at this time, not tinctures or other consumables. This is largely due to unclear FDA regulation of CBD ingestibles, which muddy the legal waters of CBD sales for pharmacies.
Until the FDA decides to stop their nonsense (and we aren’t holding our breath there), you’re not likely to find CBD tinctures, gummies, or softgels consistently on drugstore shelves any time soon. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find which local drug stores carry CBD in your area — just that it may take some hunting.
The single largest pharmacy chain in the nation, CVS is one of the chains of drug stores carrying CBD products in a number of states. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas. The pharmacy giant is working continuously to make CBD available in more states across the nation.
CVS has elected to carry only CBD topicals at this time. We understand this (rather conservative) approach, whether or not we fully agree with it — they are a national retailer, after all. Don’t get it twisted, though; the store’s focus on topicals hasn’t stopped them from carrying a diverse array of formulas to suit a variety of needs and symptoms
While the selection of products varies from state to state and from store to store, CVS works with a variety of different CBD brands. These include brands we know and love, like PlusCBD Oil and Charlotte’s Web, that produce quality products at affordable prices. This gives us hope that CVS is sourcing their CBD products responsibly, focusing on quality over quantity.
That said, the ubiquitous drug store also has the quantity aspect covered pretty well, too. A cursory look at their selection of topical CBD products shows a little bit of everything. From pain creams to roll-ons to skincare products to hair and body treatments, CVS carries a little something for every need.
We appreciate this move on the pharmacy’s part. While they’re taking their time stocking every component of a complete CBD regimen, they appear to acknowledge the diverse potential of CBD. This awareness is reflected in the variety of the products they stock, which includes everything from high-dosage pain products to bath and body care items.
Another dynamo of the local pharmacy industry, Walgreens offers CBD products in nearly 1,500 stores across 18 states. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Washington state. Walgreens continues to work with states to offer CBD in stores, and this list is likely to grow longer with time.
Like CVS, Walgreens has made the decision to limit their CBD selection to topical creams, sprays, and patches. This isn’t an outrageous stance, though we feel that the line the FDA and, consequently, major retailers appear to draw between topicals and edibles seems a bit, well, arbitrary. The company states that this is in the interest of offering a wider range of wellness products to their customers.
However, we should note that Walgreens is less open about the CBD products and brands compared to other retailers. Compared to other drug stores carry CBD, we aren’t quite convinced yet. We can’t help but cock an eyebrow at this: none of their CBD products are listed on their website, so there isn’t really any way of knowing what your store carries without showing up there in person.
We get it — get people in the door, and they’re more likely to buy since they’re already there and they want it now. That said, we’re a bit skeptical of this strategy. Rather than empowering buyers to make informed decisions, there’s something here that feels a bit disingenuous, sort of like they’re banking on people grabbing what’s available because they need it right then. This strategy doesn’t seem to account for product efficacy or quality, which makes us leery.
While we can’t speak to the CBD products offered at Walgreens, we feel a little weird about their strategy as it appears. As a group of people pretty devoted to increasing transparency, not being able to even view available products online feels kind of shady.
While it may be convenient, we aren’t sure how much to trust Walgreens. Since there isn’t clarity about the consistency of products from state to state (or even store to store), what’s true at our local pharmacy may not be true at another across town, or across state lines. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t go to Walgreens for CBD, but we are saying that we’d sure like more publicly available information about the products they carry.
A relative newcomer (and rather small player) in national CBD retail, Rite Aid launched a pilot program selling CBD in Oregon and Washington state. Since rolling out the pilot program in April of 2019, the company hasn’t yet voiced plans to expand the program to other states — but we think it’s likely they’ll eventually branch out across the nation. Beginning in legal states, Rite Aid is one of the growing number of drug stores carry CBD products.
Rite Aid has also decided to sell only topical CBD products and, frankly, had something rather puzzling to say about their stance. “At this point in time,” said Chief Operations Officer Bryan Everett, “we’re only offering the topical solutions of creams, lip balms, [and] lotions.”
That seems reasonable, but then Everett said something that was genuinely bewildering: “We won’t be carrying any of the injectables at any of our stores as part of the pilot.” Does the COO of Rite Aid actually think people are routinely injecting CBD? Is that how he thinks this works??
As CBD enthusiasts who have personally tested hundreds of hemp products, we can say with certainty that no company has ever pitched us an injectable form of CBD. Google was just as puzzled by Everett’s bizarre statement as we were: it asked, “did you mean ingestible CBD?” The few articles it did turn up for “injectable” used the term in relation to the potential of CBD to reduce overdose deaths and opioid dependence.
We’re hoping that Mr. Everett misspoke, but his statement doesn’t give us much confidence about Rite Aid’s knowledge about the products they’re selling. The fact that the names of the brands they sell aren’t publicly available (at least, not readily) doesn’t help the case, either. While the availability of CBD at Rite Aid may be convenient for Washingtonians and Oregonians, we need more information before recommending them as a CBD source.
Walmart is sort of a technicality here, and we’ll tell you why: they do not carry CBD products in any of their physical store locations. We recognize this doesn’t quite fit the bill of this article, but we feel it’s worth noting, and watching, how Walmart handles the question of local drug stores carry CBD products. If there’s anything we can count on Walmart to do, it’s to seize whatever portion of the market they can. That seizure appears to be quite strategic — again, unsurprising — and begins online.
Walmart has chosen to sell CBD products online exclusively, likely to determine interest in advance of stocking products on shelves. They currently work with only two brands: Medterra and Procanna. The two brands are available through the store’s online sales portal, though the orders are fulfilled by discount supplement company VitaSprings.
The limited brand availability shouldn’t be mistaken as a lack of product variety, though. Since they’re only selling online and not in physical stores, Walmart has chosen to offer softgels, tinctures, and other ingestibles alongside topicals. They have also elected to carry pet products, a potential boon to pet owners. It’s notable that, at the time of this writing, Walmart is the only local drugstore carry CBD products to include items for pets.
While the prospect of CBD availability at a retail giant like Walmart is exciting in a certain light, there’s still a ways to go. Stocking of CBD products on Walmart’s site is inconsistent, and items are frequently difficult to find. This isn’t unexpected — it sometimes takes a while to figure out what sells. That said, since the point of this article is to find products available in person, we’re not fully on board with Walmart’s approach to CBD products at this time.
While they’re better known in the grocery industry, Kroger is also a major player in the world of local pharmacy chains. The retailer sells CBD products in hundreds of stores in states across the country. These include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Like other major pharmacies stocking CBD on store shelves, Kroger has elected to carry only topicals at this point. Available brands seem to vary from store to store as well as by state, but there appears to be a variety of different products available at many locations around the nation. Some of Kroger’s other local drug stores carry CBD as well, like Fred Meyer and Smith’s Food & Drug. While these stores also plan stock topical CBD products as part of Kroger’s new program, the consistency of this rollout isn’t quite clear.
While brands offered on Kroger store shelves vary from place to place, Charlotte’s Web and PlusCBD Oil are among the brands we trust known to work with Kroger. It’s hard to get a feel for what exactly is available, though checking online can help you decide which location to visit. Finding which Kroger drug stores carry CBD brands you love might take a bit of legwork.
One thing we should note about Kroger’s CBD program is that it’s a little different from other major drug stores. While it doesn’t appear consistent across all locations, some stores only offer CBD products over the counter. This means that CBD is only available for purchase at these locations during pharmacy hours, which tend to be shorter than general operating hours of the grocery store.
In a way, this approach might be a good thing, as it allows people to speak to a trained pharmacist about any concerns or questions they have about a product. However, we could also see this discouraging some people from requesting CBD products, either due to discomfort or inconvenience.
While CBD products are increasing in both popularity and availability, it will likely still be some time before any local store can be a good one-stop shop for your CBD needs. However, the growing body of drug stores carry CBD appears to be growing quickly. Selecting which local drug store to choose for CBD, if any at all, depends on your needs, symptoms, and physiology. Local drug stores carrying CBD topicals might be beneficial for many people, and we’re here for that, but we also acknowledge that they aren’t (yet) a comprehensive source for CBD wellness products. When it comes to finding which local drug stores carry CBD, we expect to continue to see the availability of these products change.