The CBD industry is growing rapidly. As a result, there’s an increasing number of companies selling a wide range of CBD products. Some companies are simply out to make a profit by selling low-quality products, while others find that the best way to compete in an overly saturated market is to provide the highest-quality CBD products they can.

This can be confusing to buyers. How can you know where to buy CBD or if a particular product is of good value? Here’s everything you need to know and consider before you make a purchase.

WHERE CAN YOU BUY CBD OIL?

With the recent changes in federal law regarding CBD, there are a lot of different products available, but you need to know where to look.

Dispensaries are a great place to start. There are three different types: regular dispensaries, medical dispensaries, and recreational dispensaries.

With medical and recreational dispensaries, you’ll either need a medical or recreational marijuana card, or a prescription.

Regular dispensaries, on the other hand, have no such requirements – and they’re increasing in number, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one locally.

Alternatively, you can usually find CBD products at tobacco or vape shops, or head shops.

Then, there’s the internet. A simple search will turn up thousands of results, and companies can ship directly to your door within a matter of days.

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HEMP OIL/HEMP SEED OIL AND CBD OIL/CBD HEMP OIL

The similarities between these products can be confusing.

Hemp oil – or hemp seed oil, as it is also often referred to as – is made from hemp seeds and used in a variety of products, including soaps, beauty products, plastics, and food. It’s available from a range of outlets, including some grocery stores. Hemp oil contains virtually no CBD – or any other cannabinoids, for that matter.

In contrast, CBD oil or CBD hemp oil is made by extracting CBD from the flowers, stalks, and leaves of the hemp plant; therefore, it has a high concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids. It is used for medical and therapeutic reasons as opposed to manufacturing.

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PRICE DOESN’T ALWAYS EQUAL QUALITY

Currently, CBD is so popular in the US that dispensaries often run out of it. So, it may come as a surprise that the CBD industry is largely unregulated at the moment.

Consequently, many less-than-reputable companies are looking to take advantage of this by selling inferior products. Unfortunately, you also can’t always judge the quality of the product by its price – you could be getting a high-quality CBD product for a good price, but you might also pay a premium for a low-quality product.

Here are some factors which contribute to the cost of a CBD product:

  • The extraction process: CO2 extraction is considered to be the best option to ensure the extract’s purity, but it’s expensive.
  • Whether the hemp was organically grown with strict cultivation practices or not.
  • Whether third-party lab tests have been performed. While these are necessary to prove the content and purity of the extracted CBD, they are expensive and further drive up costs.
  • Adhering to a state’s rules and laws regarding CBD, which can be costly.
  • The CBD concentration: the higher it is, the more a product will cost.

KNOW WHAT TYPE OF CBD IS USED AND WHAT TYPE OF PRODUCT YOU WANT

Types of CBD

Not all CBD products are the same. What makes them different is largely the process used to extract the CBD and whether or not it contains other cannabinoids.

Here are the most common types that you’ll likely encounter and what they contain:

  • CBD isolate – this contains 99% (or more) CBD that’s been extracted from a hemp plant, and is free of other cannabinoids.
  • Full-spectrum – this is CBD along with other cannabinoids, including a tiny amount (under 0,3%) of THC (the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis).
  • Broad-spectrum – this is a cross between CBD isolate and full-spectrum. It’s CBD and other cannabinoids, minus the THC.

Depending on the legality of THC in your state, or whether your job causes you to undergo drug tests, you may want to avoid full-spectrum CBD products.

However, if you want the full benefits of CBD, full-spectrum CBD is the way to go, as the cannabinoids work together to provide more benefits than CBD alone. This is called the cannabis entourage effect.

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CBD Products

The CBD industry is booming, and companies have thought of innovative ways for customers to get their daily dose of the cannabinoid.

Here are a few of the forms it’s currently taking and how to use them:

  • Vape oil – this is a liquid that’s specifically designed to be used in a vaporizer. It’s heated up and turned into a vapor that’s inhaled. CBD is absorbed quickly and easily through the lungs, so the effects are felt almost immediately.
  • Tinctures – these are taken orally, either by swallowing or under the tongue (sublingually). They’re easy to use and good for beginners.
  • Capsules – these contain CBD oil and can be swallowed like pills. They’re popular because they’re discreet and tasteless – and although they take a while to kick in, once they do, they last a long time. However, one downside is that it can be difficult to adjust the dosage of a capsule.
  • Pastes – these are made from CBD oil and are swished around in the mouth for a few seconds before being swallowed. They’re pretty high in concentration, kick in fast, and last a long time.
  • Topicals – these include oils, lotions, and balms which contain CBD and are applied directly to the skin. They only affect the targeted area on which they’re applied.
  • Edibles – these are foods which contain CBD. There are a lot of varieties currently on the market, including brownies, cookies, hard candies, and gummies.

Taste

Hemp naturally has a distinct grassy, earthy flavor. Therefore, the stronger the concentration of CBD in a product, the stronger the taste will be.

It can take some getting used to, and some people never acquire a taste for it. However, there are multiple alternatives available. Vape oils, tinctures, and pastes all come in a variety of flavors, both artificial and natural. Capsules and topicals, on the other hand, do not have flavor variants.

TOTAL CBD VOLUME, CONCENTRATION, AND DOSAGE

Currently, the labels on CBD products are often confusing. Just because it says there are 1,000 milligrams of CBD in the product doesn’t mean that there are 1,000 milligrams of CBD in each dose.

Thankfully, there’s an easy formula to use when calculating the amount of CBD in each dose:

Total CBD Volume/Number of Serving Per Bottle= Milligrams of CBD per Dose

Another source of confusion can be the dosing and daily serving size, which most companies don’t include on the label.

When you use CBD daily, it has “maximum efficiency”; in other words, it builds up in your system. To get the full effect, much like with vitamins and other medicines, you’ll need to consistently take it for 7 to 10 days.

Don’t expect to feel the full effects after using it once.

Regarding how much CBD you should take, if you’re a beginner, always start low – ideally around 2 or 3 milligrams per day – and build up slowly. How much the CBD affects you depends on your tolerance, weight, and metabolism, but it’s virtually impossible to overdose. As a result, it’s generally safe to play around with the dosage until you find what works for you. Read here how to find out the right CBD dosage for you.

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FARM LOCATION, CULTIVATION AND EXTRACTION METHODS

Where the Hemp Was Grown

The cultivation of hemp plants is a fairly new practice, as it was only legalized by the Federal Government in 2014. Most reputable companies will provide information on their website regarding where the hemp was grown.

Currently, US-grown hemp is preferable because it’s easy for Americans to research growers and farm locations in their own country.

Also, and even though the CBD industry is largely unregulated, FDA laws still have to be followed when manufacturing CBD in the US, meaning that CBD oil must come from certified farmers. These standards are not necessarily upheld in other countries.

Cultivation

Hemp is a “bioaccumulator,” meaning that it attracts and absorbs substances from the soil it’s planted in, as well as the water and air around it. These substances build up in the hemp plant and, consequently, can be found in its extracts, including CBD. This can include beneficial substances such as minerals, but also heavy metals, herbicides, or pesticides – none of which are safe for human consumption.

Unfortunately, the presence of pesticides in hemp extracts has already become an issue. Several states have issued warning letters to farmers about unauthorized pesticides, and at least one CBD product was recalled completely due to unsafe pesticide levels.

Even hemp products originating from Europe, where regulations are stricter than in the US, aren’t completely safe. One study revealed that only one-third of the European hemp products tested were free of environmental contaminants.

As a result, most reputable CBD companies are forthcoming with their cultivation practices and supply the relevant information readily on their websites.

Extraction Method

The method used to extract the CBD from the hemp plant is extremely important in determining the quality of the end product. There are lots of cheap, easy extraction methods, but all of them involve the use of harsh chemical solvents – and, more importantly, they leave behind chemical residues.

The cleanest method is CO2 extraction, which is widely regarded as the “gold standard” in the industry. CO2 is put under high pressure at a low temperature, thus extracting the CBD. Once the pressure is removed, the CO2 then evaporates, leaving behind virtually no trace. CO2 extraction is so safe that it’s also frequently used to produce foods and dietary supplements.

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CBD LABELS CAN BE DECEPTIVE

It’s not uncommon for marijuana products to be labeled as hemp products – but it’s extremely important to make the distinction between the two.

Commercial hemp should contain no more than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive compound) – but because of this minuscule amount, it is often confused with marijuana. Even though both hemp and marijuana are from the same species of plant – Cannabis Sativa – marijuana contains higher levels of THC and is, therefore, illegal in many states and countries.

It’s important to bear this in mind when making a purchase.

In 2016, the US FDA bought and tested 24 products with labels stating they contained hemp or CBD. Only two met the claims on their labels.

In 2017, a similar study was conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, this time testing 84 products. It found only 26 products which met the claims on their labels.

In both of these studies, many of the products contained THC, which wasn’t mentioned on the label. To make matters even worse, the THC levels were so high that they could have caused consumers to feel psychoactive effects or fail a drug test.

TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY

It’s important to find a transparent company which readily supplies information about its products, so you know exactly what you’re buying. Additionally, the company should be easy to contact if you have any queries or concerns.

Here are some specific things to look for or watch out for when looking for a reputable CBD company:

Phone Number

It’s never a good sign when the only information a company provides is a physical address or an email address, as it will be difficult to contact them with questions, complaints, or concerns. You should look for a company that not only lists a phone number, but has real people answering it when you call. This way, someone is accountable for the product if it’s faulty, and any questions you have can be answered. A lot of companies selling CBD products are learning that transparency, accountability, and excellent customer service are prerequisites rather than selling points.

Lab Reports

A reputable company is going to be forthcoming with lab reports and analysis on its products.

The reports should be from a reputable third-party lab (not a lab owned by or associated with the company, to avoid bias) and show whether the CBD extract is free of contaminants and THC.

The third-party lab should also re-test products frequently to ensure high standards are maintained: it’s a bad sign if there are only test results from several years ago.

Check Out Reviews

Customer reviews provide you with valuable information about both the product you have chosen as well as the company which produces and sells it, including the speed and ease of delivery, and whether people actually like the product in general and would buy it again.

Another thing to look at is whether the company responds to comments and reviews or not – many reputable companies take the time to answer concerns because they believe in their product and actually care about their customers’ opinions. A lack of comments or responses to reviews could be a bad sign.

Medical Claims

There are a lot of CBD companies making broad medical statements about CBD, with some claiming that it’s a miracle drug which can cure diseases. Not only is this false information, it directly contravenes FDA regulations which ban vendors from making medical claims of any kind about CBD.

Therefore, if you come across a company making medical claims about its products or CBD in general, it’s a red flag.

CBD can provide relief from symptoms of several conditions, including insomnia, chronic pain, inflammation, and anxiety. The key words, however, are “can” and “provide relief.” While CBD undoubtedly has many beneficial properties, it’s not proven to cure any serious diseases or conditions. The FDA and the medical community haven’t yet completed enough research to prove any definitive medical uses.

You should approach buying and consuming CBD products in the same way you approach making any other important purchase.

Firstly, ensure you’re buying from a company you can trust; preferably one that has good customer reviews. What’s more, starting a daily regimen of CBD products should be taken as seriously as taking medication. You should know what it treats, what its effects are, what’s in it, how it was made, and where it came from. This is something that will be introduced to your body on a daily basis, so it’s essential that it’s free from contaminants. You’ll need to see recent third-party lab test results and/or a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) as proof.

Conclusion

Reading this article won’t be enough to make a fully informed purchasing decision – you’ll need to do some research of your own.

A good place to start is by determining what you’re going to be using CBD for and then looking up products tailored toward that. Once you have that figured out, you can go to a dispensary or a CBD store, tell them what you want, and they should be able to help you. Many staff members are extremely knowledgeable and can recommend certain brands or help you figure out the right dosage. However, don’t be afraid to come prepared with questions about the source of the products, lab reports, etc. If someone at the store or dispensary can’t answer your questions, they should be able to help you find a way to get the information.

Alternatively, there are plenty of products available on the internet – and reputable companies will always supply relevant information and the third-party lab test results for you to view.

To ensure the quality of your CBD, follow the checklist below (read more tips on choosing a reputable CBD producer here):

  • Find a US company which uses locally produced hemp. Companies who know their farmers can ensure no contamination has taken place.
  • Producers should test their products throughout the various production stages.
  • Ideally, a third-party lab should handle testing.
  • The best companies publish their test results online. This way, you can check each bottle’s test results for purity and potency.
  • Find a company which offers guarantees on its products.

Even though it may seem as though a lot of time, energy, and thought need to go into making a CBD purchase, the majority of people would agree that it’s worth it. CBD has many benefits, so researching and trying it is recommended. As for determining your dosage, read some great tips on CBD dosage here.

Have you tried CBD? What is your experience with it? Let us know in the comments!