How to Buy CBD Online
Why so upset? Because SOMEBODY took 30% of my cookie! That other 70% is suspect, just like the 70% of CBD products sold online that are mislabeled or misbranded. #casualstatistic #somebodyisme
With so many CBD products proliferating the market these days, it’s hard to know what is high-quality CBD and what standards to even use when trying to determine as such. To illustrate, a recent study from the prestigious Journal of American Medicine (JAMA) found that more than 42% of products sold online had a higher concentration of CBD than indicated (“under-labeled”) and 26% had a lower concentration of CBD than indicated (“over-labeled”). [Source: Halso Research Review].
How is this possible?
CBD products are not currently regulated by the FDA which means that CBD products are not required to submit to any quality-testing nor are they checked on their marketing claims. Yes, I know. Terrifying.
In addition, it should be noted that the research on CBD and cannabis is still slowly emerging. During the prohibition-era of the past half-century, cannabis research has been highly restricted and even discouraged in some cases.
This lack of both research and marketing regulation, plus a marketplace obsessed with wellness and self-care, has made this industry susceptible to a lot of hype and misinformation. The standards are still being written and subject to change within each newly regulated market and this means that the creation of the ‘conscious consumer’ is of utmost importance.
As I try to build out Cyntivee, that means that I want to work with brands that are committed to reviewing the latest academic research and tailoring their practices accordingly. In fact, over the past few weeks, I’ve started putting together a list of tenets that I want to guide my journey in the cannabis industry. I’ll add a link here when it’s complete.
For you, the consumer, this means that you shouldn’t allow pretty packaging or Instagram pages to dictate your perception of a company and find brands that are committed to quality practices. If you’re so inclined, find companies that espouse values that you support: women-, minority-, veteran-owned; organic farming; equity-program partners etc.
To ensure quality, here are a few tips for buying CBD online (or anytime):
Ensure the amount of CBD is clearly listed on the label
Unfortunately, the increased interest in all-things Cannabis has allowed for mass amounts of new entrants and not all of them can be trusted. Be sure that what you are buying is actually CBD and not just hemp-seed oil or some other extract. If you are buying a legitimate product, it should explicitly list how many milligrams of CBD are in the product and the dosage of a single serving.
Understand the different types of CBD
There’s no doubt that sifting through all the new vocabulary that comes along with purchasing CBD can be dizzying.
Full-Spectrum options make use of the ‘whole plant’ so the natural cannabis elements work synergistically to produce optimal effects. These synergistic effects are known as the ‘entourage effect’ and can be likened to getting your daily nutrients from whole foods versus a multivitamin. Vitamins aren’t bad but whole foods are often the better option for your body.
One of the defining characteristics of full-spectrum CBD for many consumers is that it usually means the product will have "trace amounts" of THC (defined as <0.3%). At that level, the THC is negligible and legally acceptable so you can get these options shipped anywhere in the U.S. While the inclusion of THC contributes to the effectiveness of the entourage effect, even that tiny amount may be scary for some. THC is the element of Cannabis that causes the ‘high’ feeling.
Broad Spectrum CBD is similar to full-spectrum’s ‘whole-plant’ approach but has the THC removed post-extraction. “It offers all the entourage benefits associated with full-spectrum CBD, without any chances of THC being ingested into the body. Broad-spectrum CBD is an excellent choice for individuals that can’t have any traces of THC is their system, whether for legal purposes, passing a drug test, or anything else.” I haven’t seen broad-spectrum products too frequently and haven’t had any personal experience with it, but if you find a verified provider of these, it sounds like a great starter CBD! As full disclosure, most of the CBD products I’ve tried are full-spectrum and thus far, I have found that I really like them.
One of the more agreed-upon points within the industry (see here, here and here) is that full-spectrum CBD products are superior to CBD isolates, often labeled as 99+% pure CBD. The biggest drawback of most full-spectrum CBD options is that right alongside it’s whole-plant benefits, comes a whole-plant taste. As such, CBD isolates, which tend to be sold with tasteless oil-bases like MCT oil, are a great option if you are sensitive to the planty taste of hemp extracts, want to cook with CBD or add it to your morning smoothie or coffee.
Purchase from third-party verified brands
Alongside checking for the number of milligrams of CBD on the product label, trustworthy brands should share third-party tests on their site to support those claims. In a market that is not yet federally regulated, you can only trust that a brand has your best interest in mind, if they prove it to you; so only buy from those that prove it to you.
At a minimum, look for a potency report, which will inform you of the concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids in the product. If a company can’t produce such a report, you won’t be able to determine if that tincture is just filled with olive oil or actually has CBD without taking it to a lab and testing it yourself!
So, Now What?
Use the guidelines above when you make your purchases and if you’re looking for brands that subscribe to them, check out my partner discounts page! These brands follow these standards, are committed to testing and education, and I’m proud to have the chance to work with them so early on in Cyntivee-building.
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop that supports these standards and sells a variety of brands and products on a single platform, be sure to check out Halso.co. The founder of Halso is a Stanford grad and decided to build Halso after he experienced incredulous difficulty in helping a parent purchase CBD products. Halso is a curated marketplace for CBD products from premium and trusted brands, aiming to solve the quality assurance issue currently plaguing the CBD market. Check them out!
It’s not easy being an informed consumer in the CBD market. There is a barrage of new information and few claims have been scientifically verified. While that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a slew of benefits to incorporating CBD into your wellness routine, it DOES mean that you should be weary of instagram marketing, cute labels and superfluous claims about it’s benefits.
I love Cannabis and the potential it has to change the health of the world, but it’s not a panacea. It’s just a newly available tool to be added to your arsenal alongside nutrition, fitness, and sleep to keep yourself well.
You should know that the Cannabis industry has long been defined by a community of people that are committed to the preservation of the plant and it’s safe use. As the market expands however, it may be harder to preserve these same intentions. As such, becoming a ‘conscious consumer’ is of primordial importance.
Do your research, make sure you feel comfortable and once you do, we’ll be excited to hear about your experiences within this new era of CBD and Cannabis.