The global legal cannabis market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.1% between 2017 and 2024. And in this huge expansion, a good portion of products will be CBD oil.
As more and more people are learning about the potential uses of cannabidiol (CBD), sales of the oil are increasing every day. Whether you are looking to find a potential natural alternative or whether you just believe that CBD oil might be a useful addition to your lifestyle, there are countless people out there looking into purchasing a bottle for themselves.
However, as with any growing industry, there are pitfalls. As CBD oil is not as of yet FDA regulated, it’s always possible (if not probable) that you’ll get your hands on a low-quality, unregulated product.
Luckily, this article is here to help make sure that doesn’t happen. There are a few things to look out for if you want to ensure that you’re not putting yourself in danger or making a dodgy investment.
So without further ado, here are several things to ask yourself before purchasing CBD, so that you know how to distinguish between high-quality CBD oil and low-quality, scam products.
1. Is it legal?
The first thing you need to ask is whether the CBD oil was legally sourced. CBD products made from ‘marijuana’ are only legal in states where recreational or MMJ is legal, because these products contain higher amounts of THC. Basically, a CBD product (such as oil) is only legal if it contains less than 0.3% THC. This is unobtainable if the CBD is taken from marijuana strains.
Fortunately, however, there is another member of the Cannabis sativa plant family — hemp. Industrial hemp can be grown for a variety of purposes, including using the plant fibers as construction materials. And guess what? Hemp is high in CBD, but only contains trace amounts of THC.
So before buying any CBD products, you should verify this by checking out the company’s information. Any reputable seller will specifically state that their CBD oil was sourced from industrial hemp.
Of course, if you live in a recreationally legal state and/or have a MMJ card that allows you to purchase from a dispensary, you can buy cannabis CBD oil there that does not have to be sourced from hemp.
2. What part of the plant was it made from?
When it comes to hemp, oil can be made from different parts of the plant. As well as purchasing hemp-derived CBD oil, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re getting actual CBD from hemp plant material, rather than hempseed oil.
By cold pressing the seeds of the hemp plant, a deep green oil is obtained which can be bottled and sold as hempseed oil. This is a very organic product, often non-GMO, and it is said to make an amazing food supplement. The seeds of the hemp plant have very low levels of saturated fats and high levels of essential fatty acids – in fact, just 15 ml can provide you with your daily requirement for fatty acids.
But while hempseed oil might be good for you nutritionally, it is not the same as CBD hemp oil. The former contains no cannabinoids, meaning that taking it won’t provide you with any CBD. Hemp seeds don’t contain these plant cannabinoids, which is why they aren’t present in the oil.
If CBD is the thing you’re wanting to try out, then make sure you are buying CBD hemp oil, which is produced from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant – not the seeds. These parts of the plant are much higher in CBD, meaning oils produced from flowers and leaves will have good CBD content.
Check the label and the ingredient information before purchasing – if it was made from hemp seeds, there won’t be any CBD in there!
3. How was the CBD extracted?
There are various ways to get the CBD out of the hemp plant. However, if you’re looking for top quality CBD oil, you should always make sure that it was taken out via CO2 extraction.
The following are some of the other ways it can be extracted:
- Olive oil: Olive oil is a commonly used extraction method for cannabinoids. While this is an inexpensive method, the CBD that is extracted as a result is very perishable and it produced very low yields of the compound.
- Dry ice: This involves covering the plant with dry ice to extract cannabinoids. It’s pretty easy and produces a higher yield, but the quality of the resulting product is quite poor.
- Solvent extraction: Ethanol and butane can both extract CBD from the plant, as well as taking terpenes to add flavor. However, this method also extracts chlorophyll, which can produce an unwanted taste factor. Furthermore, this is not the healthiest method, as the oil can be contaminated and is usually flammable.
In terms of CO2 extraction, although there are different varieties, supercritical is the most common. In layman’s terms, this method involves using pressurized carbon dioxide to pull CBD from the plant.
This is by far the best method because it is environmentally friendly, safe for your health and produces high yields. It does require a lot of specialized equipment, though, which drives the price up for CBD oils extracted using this method. That said, it’s a price that’s worth paying if you want a high quality, safe oil.
4. Where was the hemp sourced?
Hemp can be grown in several places where the climate provides for it. Countries in Europe, North America, and Asia all grow the plant, but you should always make sure you buy hemp sourced from either Europe or America, as these plants are subject to strict organic regulations and are therefore much higher quality.
It’s certainly a lot cheaper to buy hemp from China or India, which is why some companies are able to offer “CBD oils” at much lower prices than the top competitors. However, these strains have not been genetically produced for high CBD content, and will therefore be largely ineffective in terms of the actual amount of CBD that’s infused.
The hemp plant can grow in very harsh environments and is famous for needing few pesticides or herbicides during cultivation. It can also grow in poor soil conditions, because as it grows, the plant absorbs all the toxins in the soil and cleans up the land – this is why hemp was proposed as a solution after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. But this is also why it’s important to have your hemp grown in healthy land, ensuring that it is safe to consume.
The Federal Farm Bill of 2018 allows hemp to be grown legally in U.S. with proper licensure. With legislation in place, you can be confident that U.S. farmers are growing hemp on healthy land, ensuring that any hemp grown for consumption purposes is completely safe. The same applies to EU countries, though it might be a good idea to avoid eastern European countries that have fewer regulations.
Good, trustworthy companies will tell you where the hemp was grown, giving you peace of mind that everything is safe.
5. Does it have a third-party lab report?
Never purchase CBD oil from a company that cannot provide a third-party lab report.
Some CBD oil sellers will not bother getting their oil tested at all. Not only does this mean that it could be dangerous, but it could also be illegal: What if it was sourced from marijuana and contains more than the allowed 0.3%?
Furthermore, some companies carry out their own lab testing, meaning that they tested it themselves. While this is a step in the right direction, it is not 100% trustworthy as they can easily “skew the numbers.”
However, the best companies will always have their products tested by an independent third-party, ensuring that the results are non-biased and reliable. This does cost the company, so it might drive the price of the oil up a bit more, but it’s worth it to know that you’re getting what you’re paying for!
Most of these companies will post the results or a bit of information about their third-party lab testing on their website, or it will at least be on the label. If in doubt, you can always reach out to the sellers, but it’s highly likely that any company dedicated enough to testing their products thoroughly will talk about it on their site.
6. How much does the label tell you?
We have already mentioned some of the things that the label of CBD oil should tell you. For example, it should talk about the sourcing of the product, whether it was made from hempseed or plant, and it might mention a few other things, such as:
- Manufacturer/distributor: The manufacturer should always be shown on the label. That way, you can view the company and carry out your own research on them.
- Serving size information: Most products (not all, but the best ones) will have suggestions about directions for use. This might tell you how to take the oil drops, how large the serving size is when using the dropper, how many drops are recommended per day, and how many drops are in the whole bottle. However, the recommended daily limit is a guideline – nothing more.
- Warnings and storage instructions: As with any products, the bottle will likely tell you how to preserve the product safely. This will probably be storing it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
- Ingredients and cannabinoid content: This is the most important part. The label should expressly tell you how much of each cannabinoid is contained in the bottle. If it is isolated CBD, it should tell you this before mentioning the percentage of CBD in the bottle. It should also explicitly state the THC content as well as any other cannabinoids. Furthermore, if any sweeteners or additives were added, these should be listed.
The more informative the label, the safer the product – generally speaking. The most essential part of the labeling is the ingredients and cannabinoid content, as these will help you determine whether it is safe for consumption. Another important factor is that it tells you the strength of CBD content per each dosage, so that you can accurately use the oil with the utmost safety.
Final thoughts on How to Tell High-Quality CBD Oils from Scams
There are lots of CBD sellers out there, but not all of them are safe. Before purchasing any CBD oil, you should follow the above advice and carry out your own research to ensure that you are buying a safe product from a reputable manufacturer.
We reiterate again that you should never buy a product without a third-party lab testing report, and you should also feel confident in the labels, knowing that the cannabinoid content is as it says.
As long as you take note of these guidelines, you should be fine. The good news is that, despite a few outliers, there are plenty of reputable CBD companies out there, so you should be able to find a good product in no time. Happy shopping!