As the market continues to flourish, hundreds of companies―eager to get in on the action―have begun flooding into the market.
While less than a decade ago, consumers were limited to a few products from several different brands; today, they can can hop online and choose from hundreds of different brands and dozens of different product options such as e-liquids, beverages, topicals, and more.
In this case; however, more has presented quite a bit of challenges… Especially for those who are new to the industry.
The challenge―which you may have run into if you’ve tried more than two different CBD brands―is that not all CBD products are created equal.
Just as with any industry―there are low-quality products, high-quality products, and everything in between.
The challenge with buying CBD oil, however, is that knowing how to choose the good products from the bad ones isn’t exactly common knowledge.
Because of this, consumers are blindly making purchases based on what’s trending or which brand has the best marketing strategy. Often times, this creates an environment where low-quality products can be disguised as high-quality products.
What’s the Solution? How Can I Safely Buy CBD Online?
While this problem has definitely gotten out of hand, the solution is quite simple.
Awareness and education.
As the market becomes more saturated, it is increasingly important for consumers to understand what to look for in a good CBD product.
With the knowledge I’ve gained through my years of experience as a consumer and journalist, I’ve compiled a list of 10 things you need to know before purchasing any CBD product online (or anywhere else, really).
From reviewing lab reports to gauging the quality of a product―this guide will equip you with the knowledge to stay safe while enjoying the many benefits of CBD.
1. Is the CBD Product Tested by a 3rd Party Laboratory?
The first things I look for when purchasing any CBD product is if the product has been tested by a 3rd party laboratory. If it has been tested, then lab reports for that product should be readily available somewhere on the company’s website.
If lab reports cannot be found, it could mean a variety of things.
Maybe the lab report revealed that the product did not contain the stated amount of cannabinoids, or that the product contained harmful contaminants. Maybe the company just forgot to add the reports to their website.
Either way, without a lab report, we really have no way of confirming what’s in that product or if it’s safe to use. This is why it is extremely important to always look for a valid Certificate of Analysis (lab report) before you purchase any CBD product online.
Please note that some companies may only provide their lab reports if you’ve purchased their product or submitted a formal request. In this case, you can always reach out to the company and submit a request to review their lab reports.
If the company does not respond, or does not mention lab reports or testing anywhere on their website, I would be very wary of purchasing a product from them.
What should you look for in a lab report?
If you were able to find a product’s lab reports, there are a few things that you should confirm:
Was the analysis performed by an accredited laboratory?
This is very important. Just like shady companies, there are also shady laboratories who don’t follow proper procedures to ensure accuracy in their reports.
The way you identify the good ones are to make sure that they are accredited in accordance with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). By being accredited by the ISO, this means that the lab meets certain standards and operates under certain guidelines that are approved and monitored by a governing body.
While there are other accreditation programs such as the ILAC, ISO accreditation is typically the standard for Cannabis analysis reporting.
When was the lab report approved?
Currently, there aren’t any regulations as to how often a CBD company analyzes their product. This means that a company could show that their product was lab tested, but the report was from 3 years ago.
The oldest lab report I would trust is 8 months―maybe 10 if the brand is highly credible, but definitely not older than that.
Does the lab report confirm that the product is free of contaminants?
During the analysis process, a laboratory will determine if the sample contains any harmful contaminants such as heavy metals or microbial contaminants, such as mold or bacteria (this can usually be found at the end of the report).
If the sample contains an amount of contaminants that is below limit which is safe to exist in the sample, the analysis report will list “Pass” under the “Status” column. This is what you want to see.
If the sample contains an amount of contaminants that exceeds the safe limit, the analysis report will list “Fail” under the “Status” column. This is a big red flag, and I would definitely stay away from this product.
Is the cannabinoid content listed on the product consistent with the analysis report?
The primary component of a product’s analysis report is to summarize the cannabinoid profile and concentration within the sample. In simpler terms, it means listing each cannabinoid detected in the sample, along with its concentration within that sample.
When assessing a product’s analysis report, one thing you want to make to sure to do is confirm that the cannabinoid content listing on the product’s label is consistent with what is listed in the product’s lab report.
For example, if a product’s label lists that it contains 1,000 mg of CBD, then that content should be confirmed on the product’s lab report.
While it’s normal for the cannabinoid content to deviate slightly, (it comes from a natural plant, so some variation is to be expected) a big difference is definitely something you should be concerned with.
Unless you live in a state where THC is legal and are knowingly seeking a product that contains THC, it is very important to confirm that the product you are looking to purchase contains less than the legal amount of THC allowed in your state.
3. What ingredients are used in the product?
The next thing you’ll want to look at is the product’s ingredients list.
What type of ingredients are used in the product? Are the ingredients listed at all (If they aren’t, this would definitely raise a red flag)?
Are there a ton of ingredients with names you can’t pronounce? If there are, a quick Google search can reveal what they are, and if they have any negative side effects.
Positive highlights to look for in a good product include if the product uses organic and all-natural ingredients or if the product contains premium ingredients that were added to enhance the benefits of the product (such as melatonin in CBD sleep capsules or Vitamin B12 for pain relief). If you want just pure CBD as it it comes out of the hemp plant, with no other added ingredients, you may want to look toward companies that don’t use any additives in their CBD oil, like CBDPure.
4. Where was the hemp sourced from and how was it cultivated?
Hemp is the primary source that CBD is extracted from, and the quality of that hemp plays a big factor in the quality of the end product.
While some CBD brands maintain close relationships with hemp suppliers in order to ensure they use top quality hemp, others are more concerned with getting the lowest price possible.
Often times, brands will purchase CBD isolate from wholesale suppliers and have no idea where the hemp is coming from or how it was cultivated.
To appeal to new companies with limited CBD knowledge, suppliers will say that their isolate was extracted from organic hemp that was grown in the United States under the best farming practices possible.
While they could certainly be telling the truth, without a direct relationship with the farm, companies really have no way of validating these claims.
With that being said, it is important to confirm the quality of the hemp that the CBD was extracted from. Here are a few things you’ll want to know about a product’s hemp source:
Where was the hemp sourced from?
Hemp can be sourced from many different places, including Europe, China, and the United States.
Because the US has nutrient-rich soil and superior cultivation standards, it is by far the best geographical location to cultivate hemp.
With the industry continuing to evolve, a standard for quality is beginning to emerge.
As a farm participating in these programs, there is an even higher set of standards and quality control set in place, in order to guarantee the absolute best end product possible.
What cultivation practices were used?
Another important factor is the cultivation practices that were used to produce the hemp.
Following the same standard discussed above, utilizing the best cultivation practices such as maintaining the proper ph-balance in the soil, sourcing hemp seeds from accredited collectives, and abstaining from pesticides, GMOs, and other unnatural practices should be the foundation for all CBD products.
While it may be difficult to extract this information fully, it’s a good sign if a company is knowledgeable and readily discloses their beliefs and standards when sourcing hemp for the products.
When shopping for CBD products, consumers are faced with the choice between products that contain “Full Spectrum CBD,” “Broad Spectrum CBD,” or “CBD Isolate.”
Understanding the difference between the three, and which type is used in a CBD product, is extremely important to know.
So what’s the difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate CBD?
First off, the difference between each type refers to the cannabinoid extraction process.
CBD Isolate is “pure” CBD that was extracted from the hemp plant, and then isolated from the other cannabinoids that were present, resulting in a 99% pure CBD extract. For reasons we will discuss later, this involved a lot of lab chemistry, and often results in a product far inferior to Full-spectrum CBD.
Broad Spectrum CBD is a bit of a mix between both CBD isolate and Full Spectrum CBD. Essentially, Broad Spectrum CBD is Full Spectrum CBD, without the THC.
Now, depending on your needs and the legality of THC in your state, a full spectrum CBD product may not be suitable for you. In that case, a product made with CBD isolate or Broad Spectrum CBD may be your best choice.
The importance is understanding the difference between the three, then checking the product to confirm which type of CBD it uses.
Because CO2 extraction preserves the purity of the CBD while not contaminating the end substance, it is the most superior way to extract CBD and should be the standard for any quality CBD product.
7. Amount of CBD in Each Dosage
Before you purchase a CBD product, it’s important to first understand how much CBD is in the product. This will inform you of how much CBD is in a single dose, which you can then use to gauge how, if at all, that product would fit into your lifestyle.
Depending on the type of product, the dosage method can vary.
To give you an example, let’s explore a couple different methods of using CBD.
While hemp-derived CBD has been considered legal in most states, some states have certain requirements to use CBD, and others have strict laws against it.be
Furthermore, you should be aware of the THC-content in the product, and if the CBD was extracted from hemp or marijuana, as marijuana-derived CBD falls under the same laws as marijuana due to its potential THC-content.
If you’re in a state like California where marijuana is legal for recreational use, or a state like Florida that has broad CBD laws in place, you should be fine.
But, if you’re in a state like Idaho or Kansas, you may want to take some time looking into the laws and regulations pertaining to CBD to avoid potential issues.
If you’re not sure where to find the CBD laws for you state, try our easy CBD Law Finder.
Conclusion and Summary
And that marks the end of our guide!
I hope that this guide helped teach you what to look for in a good CBD product. More importantly, I hope that taught you how to safely buy CBD online (or anywhere else).
While CBD has the potential to change the lives of so many people, the opportunity it has created has attracted some who seek only to gain financially for themselves.
As the industry continues to develop, regulations will be established to prevent unethical tactics in the future. In the meantime, it’s important to be aware and stay informed so that you and your loved ones can fully enjoy the many benefits of CBD.
Thanks so much for reading this article! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, we’d love to engage with you in the comments section below!