New CBD brands are popping up everywhere— you’ve probably seen the ads. And while we think it’s terrific that cannabinoids are going mainstream, the continued lack of standardization is troubling. It’s not difficult to set up an online store and start selling CBD products, and there are hundreds of options to choose from in the digital marketplace. But not all of the offerings are what they claim to be, and some products could even be harmful.
While we’ve talked about safety and CBD before, we thought a refresher might be in order. So whether you are new to buying CBD online, or you’re a veteran shopper, here are five tips to help you navigate your next purchase.
1. Check the Source
High-quality hemp is typically found in states where growing hemp is legal. This is because robust agricultural programs are already in place providing at least some oversight to grow operations. The Agricultural Marketing Service maintains a list of tribes and states approved for Hemp Production Plans on the USDA website.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that hemp sourced outside of the US is bad. There are many reputable companies whose farms are located overseas. If you’re thinking about purchasing CBD from a brand that does not use domestic hemp, just be sure to do your research.
2. Look for Lab Tests
Third-party lab testing is no longer a selling point with CBD products—it’s the norm. And the more information provided, the better. Transparent brands will post the results of these tests prominently in a dedicated area of the website or on the product pages themselves. If they do not, assume there is something to hide and move on.
Equally as important is the date in which the certificate of analysis is issued. The COA’s should be issued within the previous 60 to 90 days. It does little good to look at the lab sheets for batches tested months ago. In extreme cases, we’ve seen COA’s that are over a year old! If you’re confused about how to read a lab report, we’ve got an article that explains it here.
3. Study Cannabinoid Content
Although federal law requires that CBD oil may only contain a concentration of THC that is 0.3% or lower, some individual states have tighter restrictions. If you’re concerned about the legality of possessing THC, you may want to skip the full-spectrum products and order a CBD isolate oil instead. CBD Isolates contain no detectable THC and are also less apt to trigger a positive result on a drug screening test.
Another reason to check the THC content is sensitivity. The CB1 receptor protein has at least 15 different variations, which explains why your friends can smoke weed and feel great, while you get anxious and paranoid. It all comes down to genetics. If you intend to take large doses of CBD, understand that full-spectrum products still contain small amounts of THC. And although this amount is unlikely to be mind-altering, sensitive people have reported feeling effects.
This phenomenon is most pronounced among disreputable brands that put profits before people. In 2016, researchers analyzed 84 CBD products and found higher than expected levels of THC in 18 of the samples—enough to potentially have an intoxicating effect.
4. Avoid Brands Making Health Claims
In 2019, the FDA and FDC began cracking down on CBD brands for making outlandish health claims about their products. Not wanting to violate the orders and put the entire industry in jeopardy, responsible companies took the actions seriously and removed content and claims that CBD could help cure specific diseases or conditions.
If you’re purchasing CBD, you’ve probably done your research and already know why you want it. But you should be wary of companies who advertise their products as a cure for specific conditions. This type of content is a direct violation of FDA guidelines and should be enough to demonstrate that the brand cares more about making a quick buck than adhering to the emerging industry standards.
5. Read the List of Ingredients
The hemp industry is constantly coming up with new and improved products, and over the past year, we’ve seen some remarkable and exciting innovations. From CBD tinctures infused with essential oils to gummies containing melatonin and nootropics like L-Theanine. Even mushrooms are showing up in some extracts. It is thought that the inclusion of these natural ingredients may potentially deliver additional benefits to users.
However, just because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Everyone reacts differently to various herbal ingredients, and if you have allergies you need to be extra careful. Not to mention the potential interactions with medications one is already taking.
Before you spend your hard-earned money on a cannabidiol product with added botanicals, make sure you want these additional ingredients added to your daily CBD regimen.