Today, there is a considerable amount of information on the internet detailing the potential benefits of CBD. For the most part, these reports are incredibly encouraging, especially for those looking for a natural, alternative supplement. But as a consumer ready to take a leap into the cannabidiol market, how does one navigate selecting a reliable and safe product that is worth the investment? Through this article, we will provide guidance for what to look for when purchasing CBD oil or other CBD products as well as three options of where to purchase CBD extracts.
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, Cannabis Sativa L, but are grown for different purposes. Hemp – also called industrial hemp- is one of the oldest plants known to man, dating back to 8000 BC. The plant itself is typically tall and thin and cultivated to produce food, oils, paper, other textiles, and high CBD extractions. Marijuana plants, on the other hand, are bred for their psychotropic properties.
The levels of THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis plants, is what legally distinguishes which plants are considered hemp and which are considered marijuana. High levels of THC (3 -15%) is found in higher concentrations in marijuana plants, whereas industrial hemp status is given to cannabis plants with THC levels less than .3%. The molecule cannabidiol (CBD) is the same regardless of which plant it was extracted from (click here for more information on hemp CBD versus marijuana CBD). The two main differences between CBD derived from either cannabis plant is the legality and desired effect when combined with THC.
In compliance with Federal Law and the Farm Bill, under the Appropriation Acts of 2016, CBD extracted from industrial hemp (less than .3% THC) can be “transported, processed and sold” nationwide. Because of this law, consumers are able to obtain CBD products derived from hemp without acquiring a medical marijuana card or without living in a state where cannabis products are sold. CBD derived from marijuana plants are not federally legal, and are only accessible in states with pro-cannabis or CBD laws.
As previously mentioned, when derived from marijuana plants, CBD is regularly paired with a higher ratio of THC than when CBD is derived from hemp plants. When a CBD product has a 1:1 ratio with THC, consumers will often feel the psychoactive effects of THC. It is advised that when purchasing a CBD product, one is aware of how much THC they will be consuming and how it will affect the desired outcome.
These two differences distinguish where you can purchase certain CBD products, which is the topic we will cover next.
Three places to buy CBD
Again, in compliance with Federal Law, CBD derived from industrial hemp can be purchased nationwide. Reliable distributors such as The CBDistillery is one of the companies who offers a large variety of CBD oils, vape products, topical creams, and capsules which can be shipped directly to your front door. Unlike purchasing a product in a store, buying CBD online allows the consumer to read customer testimonials prior to making a buying decision.
Dispensaries are government regulated retail stores, in which a person can purchase cannabis and cannabis related items for medical or recreational use. Depending on your state’s legislature regarding the use of cannabis products, you may be able to purchase CBD products from one of these local dispensaries. In a medical cannabis dispensary, only patients who have received a medical marijuana card prescribed by their doctor are legally allowed to purchase cannabis products, including CBD oil or other cannabidiol supplements. Unlike medicinal dispensaries, recreational dispensaries are available to customers who are 21 years or older but are only able to sell CBD products containing some levels of THC. For this reason, recreational dispensaries do not sell pure CBD products, like 99% pure CBD isolate powder. This may not be favorable for someone looking to use a CBD product without ingesting THC. However, many consumers prefer to see and interact with any item prior to purchasing which is an advantage to buying CBD oil in a dispensary. Looking for a dispensary near you? Click HERE.
Head Shops & Specialty Retail Stores
In addition to glass shops (head shops), specialty retail stores like nutritional stores or apothecaries carry CBD hemp oil or other hemp derived products. Similar to dispensaries, these types of stores give customers the opportunity to see the products in person as well as engage with the store associates about how to select the appropriate product for their own personal needs. One potential pitfall of purchasing CBD hemp oil from a store is that the retailer is able to sell whatever kind of product they consider “high quality”. Because of this, there are many stores taking advantage of the high demand for CBD products, and selling oils and other supplements that contain little to no CBD at all. For this reason, it is crucial to read labels and do additional research prior to purchasing CBD extracts from a nutritional store or head shop. Want to find a head shop or specialty store near you? Click HERE.
So now you know where you can buy CBD products, but what is important to know when selecting the highest quality product? We cover that next.
What is important to consider when purchasing a CBD product?
Some believe that just because you are purchasing a product from a plant, that is must be safe to use. That is not necessarily the case with CBD products. Here are four things to remember when choosing a CBD product that is safe for consumption.
It starts with the plant
The first thing to consider when selecting a product is understanding where the hemp or marijuana plant came from. Contrary to what some may think, cannabis plants grown domestically and internationally can all be safe for consumption. But, it is crucial only to choose products that are sourced from pesticide-free, NON-GMO, plants to avoid ingesting harsh chemicals.
Price does not determine quality
The FDA recently conducted a series of tests on so-called CBD oils sold on the internet. Despite manufacturer claims, many of these products contained little to no CBD. The best CBD companies are transparent about how much cannabidiol and other cannabinoids you are paying for. These companies will frequently conduct third-party tests on their products and publish the results on their website. Do some additional research on the business you are purchasing from and read their customer reviews. Are people satisfied with the quality of their products?
Not all extraction methods are safe
There are various ways of extracting cannabidiol from a cannabis plant, each with their pros and cons. CO2 and ethanol extraction are two of the most commonly used methods. CO2 extraction, for example, uses carbon dioxide under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to extract, preserve, and maintain the purity of the CBD oil. According to ProjectCBD.org, ‘when well done the end product is safe, potent, and free of chlorophyll’. When choosing a CBD product, make sure the company uses a safe solvent and a verified extraction method.
Make sure the product will give you the desired effect
While cannabidiol is scientifically proven to be non-psychoactive, CBD products can be produced and sold with levels of THC that can get you high. If this is not your desired effect, it is recommended when selecting a product, to choose only those that have “non-psychoactive” effects.
Cannabis plants contain naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. CBD, which is short for cannabidiol is one of the many cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants and is desirable among those looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.
Where is the hemp plant grown?
As previously mentioned, cannabidiol products sold in the United States can be sourced from hemp or marijuana plants grown either domestically or internationally. For legality purposes, many CBD products (containing less than .3% THC) are sourced from industrial hemp. Fourteen states within the United States can legally grow and process industrial hemp and hemp seeds. These states include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, and Tennessee.
Many CBD companies source their industrial hemp grown with organic practices, but hemp, in general, is not a USDA certified organic product. Moreover, it is recommended that you choose a CBD product made from NON-GMO, pesticide-free, industrial hemp that is tested consistently for contamination to ensure safe consumption. When selecting a CBD product, make sure the company uses a safe solvent and a verified extraction method.
Extracting CBD from the hemp plant
CBD can be extracted from marijuana or industrial hemp plants. For legality purposes, many CBD products are extracted from the stalks and stems of industrial hemp plants which are cannabis plants with .3% THC or less so they qualify as “industrial hemp”. Once cultivated, cannabis plants are lifted from the ground and brought to an extraction facility.
Ethanol and C02 extraction are two commonly used methods for extracting CBD and are two of the cleanest ways to extract CBD for human consumption. CO2 extraction, a popular extraction method typically used when extracting smaller quantities of hemp, involves filtering plants through a series of chambers that control temperature and pressure. When different temperatures and units of pressure are applied to cannabis plants, this sophisticated system is able to isolate cannabinoids at a 90% efficiency.
An alternative method is ethanol extraction which involves introducing the solvent ethanol to the hemp plant in order extract cannabinoids. Unlike CO2 extraction, you are able to produce a very high volume of full spectrum extract with this method. Ethanol also removes unwanted components such as chlorophyll from dried hemp when performed at very cold temperatures.
Once extracted, hemp undergoes an additional step known as chromatography, a mechanism used to remove unwanted plant phytochemicals from the extracted oil. Cannabinoids like CBD have a strong interaction with chromatography media, thus traveling slower than unwanted plant material like chlorophyll which has a weak interaction. Once divided, cannabidiol and other terpenes can be isolated and undesirable plant material can be disposed of.
Many CBD oil products also undergo what is known as decarboxylation. This involves heating the cannabinoids into a form that allows the cannabinoids to immediately interact with the endocannabinoid system making the compound more usable throughout the body. When the extracted oil is decarboxylated it is converted from CBDA to CBD, thus removing the acid form so it’s readily bioavailable.
Once decarboxylated, the CBD hemp oil can be consumed directly, however it may not have a favorable taste. Instead, this oil can be mixed with a carrying oil such as hemp seed or coconut oil, turned into CBD capsules, or processed into a powder or slab isolate form for consumer use.