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With the increased number of available CBD products, there’s also increased risk of products making it onto shelves that don’t make good on what their labels promise.
So what’s a shopper to do?
Arm yourself with information!
You won’t be surprised to hear that CBD is big business these days.
Just how big is it?
A January 2019 survey of more than 2,500 consumers discovered that 7 percent of respondents are currently using CBD in their daily regimen.
This huge potential market means a lot of business opportunity — and for consumers, it means a lot of products entering the marketplace, likely at increasingly competitive price points.
Savvy CBD consumers know what they’re looking for in a product, where to source the best products, and how to spot the red flags that signal an inferior CBD product.
In this guide, we’ll give you all the facts you need to make an informed decision the next time you shop for CBD online.
Let’s get started!
CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of many naturally occurring compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant called phytocannabinoids.
Other phytocannabinoids include CBA, CBN, and even THC.
Products like Full Spectrum CBD Oil are effective because phytocannabinoids are similar enough to our bodies’ naturally occurring endocannabinoids that they can also interact with and affect the workings of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), part of the mammalian nervous system that’s thought to play a regulatory role in all kinds of bodily functions, including mood, sleep, and appetite.
Want to learn more about how Full Spectrum Hemp (CBD) Oil works? Check out our guide.
Not all CBD is created equal. (For example, the little bottles of “CBD” you can buy next to the cash register at the gas station are not the same as the products you can buy at a higher cost from dedicated websites!)
Yes, there are different delivery methods for CBD products (think tinctures, salves, gummies, and the like) — but there are also different methods of extracting the compounds from the hemp plant itself, which affect the product.
Here’s a quick breakdown of these different types of CBD oil:
Full Spectrum Hemp Oil
A.K.A. full-spectrum CBD oil, whole hemp oil
Full Spectrum hemp oil is the most effective type of CBD product you’ll find.
Full Spectrum products are gently extracted from the hemp plant and contain a range of other cannabinoids, including CBC, CBN, and CBG, as well as naturally occurring flavonoids and terpenes.
These products can also contain up to .3 percent THC, the cannabinoid many consumers recognize as “the one that gets you high.” But don’t worry!
The trace amount of THC in full-spectrum hemp oil is not only legal in all 50 states, but it’s also not enough to create a psychoactive effect.
Full-spectrum hemp oil also offer the benefit of what’s known as “the entourage effect,” a chemical reaction that boosts the effectiveness of all the cannabinoids when they’re all present in the body simultaneously.
Broad Spectrum Hemp Oil
A.K.A. broad spectrum CBD oil, hemp oil, hemp extract
Broad-spectrum hemp oil contains most of the cannabinoid profile, flavonoids, and terpenes that full-spectrum products do — but are THC-free.
While some consumers believe a complete THC-free product (with all the other compounds in tact) offers the best of both worlds, it’s actually that trace amount of THC in full-spectrum products that sets off the entourage effect and makes them so effective.
Without it, your CBD product will be far less effective.
A.K.A. CBD oil, pure CBD oil, hemp oil
Most of the CBD products available are made from isolate. During extraction, manufacturers remove all the other compounds, leaving behind “pure CBD,” which sounds like a good thing, right?
Again, because CBD is most effective when other phytocannabinoids are present for the entourage effect, products made from CBD isolate will be less expensive and more readily available, but also not as effective.
A.K.A. hemp extract
If you’re shopping online for CBD, do not buy this product. Hempseed oil, though rich in fatty acids like omega-3s, contains no cannabinoids of any type. It offers some health benefits of its own, but not the ones most CBD consumers are seeking.
Is it legal to buy CBD online?
Short answer? Yes, it is technically legal to purchase CBD online (as well as in brick-and-mortar stores and anywhere else, for that matter).
Even full spectrum CBD products, which contain up to .3 percent THC, are legal in all 50 U.S. states.
However, individual retailers may decide they will not sell full-spectrum products containing trace amounts of THC. Amazon.com is one of those retailers that will not sell THC-containing CBD products — for the time being.
Though you can purchase CBD products legally in all 50 states, the industrial-hemp industry is highly regulated by the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018, known simply as the Farm Bill, which effectively legalized hemp.
According to the 2018 Farm Bill:
The FDA has officially approved just one CBD product, an epilepsy treatment drug called Epidiolex.
The government’s relationship to the cannabis industry is constantly evolving. To learn more about how the FDA is approaching the increased popularity of cannabis, including CBD products, visit the FDA’s website.
Here’s where things get serious.
Once you start shopping online for CBD, you’ll start to see that it’s a bit like the Wild West: a lot of companies making a lot of claims about their products.
So how do you know if you’re getting high-quality CBD when ordering online?
The key is being a critical consumer.
Ask yourself plenty of questions while you’re browsing hemp-derived CBD products, and consider the following factors to determine whether your CBD is worth the money.
Where does the hemp come from?
Sourcing is hugely important in determining the quality of CBD.
Does the company you’re considering buying from have their own farm, or do they wholesale hemp or extracts from multiple farms?
A company that owns their own farm — or has a single, consistent farming partner — and can tell you exactly where their hemp plants come from will provide a higher-quality.
When companies source the hemp for their products from multiple farms, consistency suffers: Levels of cannabinoids found in their products could be widely varied.
If the manufacturer sources from multiple farms, be sure to look closely at your product’s certificate of analysis (more on that below) to double check its quality.
Are lab-testing reports available?
Though cannabis products aren’t yet regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, third-party lab testing is nonetheless crucial for CBD products.
A certificate of analysis (COA) from an independent lab is a report from an impartial source that explains what’s really in your product.
COAs not only break down the types of cannabinoids within the product (and in what quantity), but they also offer assurance that your product doesn’t contain heavy metals or large quantities of pesticides.
If a company hasn’t made COAs for its products available online, contact their customer support and ask to see it. If they don’t have one, or withhold it from potential customers, it’s not a company you want to be doing business with.
How was the CBD extracted?
How potent is this CBD?
As you evaluate CBD products, examine the label to determine the potency of the product (that is, how much CBD is actually in there!).
The certificate of analysis can tell you at a glance what percentage of the product is CBD, as well as how many milligrams of the compound are contained within the product, sometimes down to the milligrams per serving.
Also important to consider is the delivery method and how well it will achieve the desired effect. CBD can be packaged into capsules, tablets, salves, balms, tinctures, and even CBD edibles like gummies.
The delivery method can affect the way the CBD and other phytocannabinoids are absorbed into your system (for example, capsules can be taken regularly to compound CBD’s benefits over time, tinctures can act fast to support mood, and topical products like salves and balms can soothe skin conditions like psoriasis).
Is the cost too good to be true?
You may be tempted to grab up as much CBD as you can for the lowest price. But CBD prices vary widely, and for good reason! There are many factors that play into the cost of a CBD product, including:
High-quality CBD products don’t come cheap . But because the over-the-counter cannabis market is still quite unregulated, paying a lot for a bottle of “CBD” doesn’t always guarantee the best product.
So until there are better watchdogs in place to oversee the marketplace, consumers have to do their own homework to ensure they’re getting the best-quality product for their CBD dollar.
Yes, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to shopping for CBD oil. But once you find the product that’s right for you, you may never want to go back!
Ready to start shopping? Check out our online store.
At Veritas Farms, we grow all our hemp on site at our farm in Pueblo, Colo., where we also dry, process, extract, formulate, and package a variety of best-quality CBD products. We offer certificates of analysis for all our products and stand behind the quality of everything we sell.
Still have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We love to hear from CBD enthusiasts and newbies alike. Happy shopping!