There’s been an explosion of hemp products being released by new CBD companies. Every day my inbox is barraged with a new product, company or store. The CBD market is projected to top $22 billion dollars in 2022.
Why? It’s because most consumers are ignorant about cannabis, hemp and CBD. And a lot of companies are perfectly willing to capitalize on it.
Now a lot you are perfectly content with this. If that’s you, hop on over to Amazon or one of those fancy websites and buy some shitty, over priced CBD product. Take your Instagram pics and have a blast. This article is not for you. But if you want some insight into what’s happening with this industry and how to maximize the benefit of CBD by selecting a great product, read on.
With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp has just become legal federally and most states are still crafting their state laws and regulation. Here in Arizona, our pilot program is scheduled to kick off in August of 2019. The FDA is currently performing a review of guidelines for the CBD industry. In the meantime, it’s the wild, wild west when it comes to CBD products.
Many people are interested in trying CBD products based on the promising science that suggests CBD has many therapeutic benefits. CBD is typically administered by ingesting the CBD in to your body either orally, via an inhaled vapor, or application topically. Now I’m sure you’re like me and when you use something in that way, for a positive therapeutic effect, you want to be absolutely sure your product is potent, pure, clean and safe.
What you need to know about Your CBD
Where does the hemp or CBD come from?
CBD is a cannabis derived compound. That means it originates from a plant, most likely hemp. Hemp farms exist all over the world. Now with the legalization of hemp in the US and a booming CBD industry, you can expect even more. The problem is you have varying environments and quality control among these hemp growers. Additionally, hemp is what is known as a phytoremediator. In English, this means the plant readily absorbs contaminants, poisons and heavy metals, if present, from the soil in which it grows. You wouldn’t want to consume any hemp that was grown say, near Chernobyl, right? You would also prefer that your hemp be grown organically and not be contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals and mycotoxins.
This is why a reputable CBD company will be happily tell you the originating location for the hemp used to manufacture your product. Oregon, Colorado and Kentucky are the leading hemp growing states and have robust licensing and oversight of their hemp farms.
Also, be aware that hemp is supplied from overseas with various levels of regulation and oversight. There are also CBD powders available from China that companies may use to create CBD products. Scary.
How is your CBD product made?
It amazes me that I hear about vape shops and head shops mixing up CBD oil in the back room and selling it out front to their customers. You should care about how your CBD product is manufactured.
There are two parts to the CBD product manufacturing process.
The first step is the extraction of the cannabidiol from the plant. For this process there are basically 3 methods-
- CO2 Extraction
- Solvent Extraction
- Lipid Extraction
CO2 extraction uses high pressure carbon dioxide at low temperatures in order to preserve the pureness of the CBD oil
The solvent extraction process uses ethanol which can destroy portions of the plant that are beneficial.
Lipid extraction uses an oil such as olive oil or coconut oil to extract the cannabinoid from the plant.
All of these techniques can be performed safely and yield a quality CBD oil.
A reputable CBD product manufacturer should inform their customers which extraction method they use in their manufacturing.
Manufacturing & Packaging
The next steps are manufacturing the product and packaging it for distribution. A quality minded company will adhere to what are known as Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMPs). These are standards developed by the FDA that assures the identity, strength, quality, and purity of products. These standards apply to botanical and vitamin dietary supplements as well as drugs.
Now this might fall under the common-sense category and you would think that we could assume all manufacturers do this. Sadly, this is not the case. Even if your pretty sure your CBD is not being mixed up in a back room, there could still be problems.
Last year, researchers at the Virginia Commonwealth University tested seven CBD products from Diamond CBD. They found DXM and synthetics cannabinoids commonly known as K2 or Spice. Another test found that the major constituent in their product was melatonin and not CBD.
Is your CBD product lab tested?
This one of the most important indicators of a quality CBD company, in my opinion. Do they provide lab testing results of their products easily for their customers? Many companies simply do not do testing. They may be buying bulk CBD oil and completing their formulation of CBD oil. That’s a problem. Obviously, there is no way of knowing the final potency or purity of the CBD oil if it’s not tested.
Maybe they are doing some testing or presenting test results. There are still questions to answer. There are some important things to know about lab testing. Let’s go through them.
The Testing Laboratory
If the company provides lab results, they may come from their own internal laboratory, or from outside ( 3rd party lab testing) testing lab. Larger companies may perform internal testing in order to quickly evaluate the potency and quality of their products in real time. That’s fine. It’s useful for them to reliably produce a clean, pure accurately dosed product. But guess what? They can also generate whatever results they want and provide them to their customer. This is why the industry standard is to have 3rd party testing done on your products. 3rd party testing means an independent, accredited laboratory performs the testing. Accreditation means achieving certification under ISO/IEC 17043 standards.
Testing laboratories use various techniques to perform testing of samples. High Pressure Liquid Chromatography is the industry standard method for profiling cannabinoids. It does not use heat, and therefore does not produce skewed results due to decarboxylation during testing. The test results should disclose which method of analysis was used to test the samples.
Scope of Tests Performed
- Cannabinoid Profile– This is bare minimum testing expectation for consumer information. It provides information on CBD potency and quantifies THC content.
- Solvents– Testing to ensure no solvents are present in the product.
- Terpene Profile– These are compounds that naturally exist in cannabis and are important to fostering the entourage effect of cannabis therapy. Many manufactures test and quantify the terpene profile for their product.
- Microbiological– This is a test for harmful biological material in the product. May also be called Mycotoxin testing.
- Heavy Metals – This test profiles the presence of harmful heavy metals in the product.
Here’s an example of a comprehensive test report for Sunsoil CBD Oil.
Recently, here in Arizona, another CBD enthusiast selected seven products listed on Amazon which were being sold as CBD containing products (not hemp oil). He purchased them and performed independent testing. His results were that six of the seven products did not contain ANY CBD! The seventh had less than the specified potency. Note: If you link over to the article and check this out, note that LOQ means ‘limit of quantitation’ which is a fancy way of saying “our half million dollar test equipment couldn’t detect any CBD”.
Now if you try CBD oil and find it an effective therapy for you condition, you will likely have to develop a regimen for taking CBD repeatedly. For example, I know users who find it very effective for anxiety and dose daily in the morning and afternoon. This means you’ll have to buy CBD frequently.
Currently, the CBD industry has prices all over the place, ranging from about 5 cents per milligram to in excess of 20 cents a milligram. This is nuts. This is a commodity after all. CBD is, generally CBD. Yes, there are variations in hemp strains and there are some legitimate drivers to pricing such as extraction method, but pricing at 24 cents per milligram for a “luxury CBD” is complete bullshit. This is exploiting uninformed consumers, and nothing else.
The good news that with the passage of the farm bill last year, we can expect more hemp production. This coupled with more companies entering the space, means we can expect prices to drop and stabilize. But for now, we are faced with dealing with a few opportunistic companies that are it for a cash grab.
Let’s take a look at one of these new CBD Upstarts, Lord Jones. They have a website laden with so much cannabis word salad, it’s got to be good! Well, let’s see-
- Hemp Origination- America, not too specific.
- Extraction Method- Who knows?
- Manufacturing Process Standards- Not a word
- Lab Testing- Claimed independent testing, no data
- Price- A whopping 24 cents per milligram
BTW, there’s no physical address, phone number, or email address on the whole site. That’s a big red flag in my book. How the heck do they provide customer service?
Now let’s contrast that with Sunsoil CBD Oil
- Hemp Origination- Their farm in Vermont
- Extraction Method- Lipid Extraction with coconut oil
- Manufacturing Process Standards- FDA CGMPs
- Lab Testing- Pro Verde Labs, complete workup posted on website
- Price- 5 cents per milligram
My goal here isn’t to shit on a CBD company. There’s definitely lots of good ones. And maybe Lord Jones’ CBD oil is ok. I just feel like they, and all these other new players have a responsibility to earn our business by providing some insights that show their products are safe, pure and high quality. There’s a lot of competition out there for your CBD dollar and more coming every day. I just want consumers to be a bit more knowledgeable and be able to investigate, research and make an informed choice.