Buying the “Right” CBD

According to the 2018 Farm Bill (also known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), hemp-derived CBD is nationally legal as long as it has less than 0.3 percent THC. Hemp meeting this condition is no longer controlled under the CSA. However, hemp-containing products that are regulated by the FDA must meet the regulating criteria of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C).

Dispensaries in regulated markets selling medical cannabis and adult-use cannabis often sell CBD with higher concentrations of THC. (Adult-use cannabis is what’s commonly referred to as “recreational” cannabis.) They also sell CBD that is specifically derived from THC-rich cannabis. This type of product isn’t available on a national marketplace, and state regulations don’t cross borders.

You can access CBD in a variety of ways, and what may be best for you may not be best for another, specifically due to regulation. CBD from medical or recreational dispensaries is going to be different from what you can buy off the shelf online because of the regulations that are required for distribution in dispensaries. First and foremost, the best source is an accessible one that offers a quality product and high standards of production.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the regulatory food chain:

                     *  Medical dispensary: The top of the chain is the medical dispensary. If you have access to legal cannabis in your state, you can shop at a medical dispensary. It has more-regulated (though not necessarily highest quality), forcibly transparent products available on its shelves.

                     *  Adult-use dispensary: The next level is the adult-use (sometimes called recreational) dispensary, which is also only in THC-regulated states. These sorts of dispensaries often have a greater diversity of products simply because this market has a larger market share than the medical market.

TE recommends changing blue text above to the following: larger market size for REC over the medical market

                     *  National marketplace: The largest and most readily available marketplace is the national marketplace of hemp-derived CBD products containing less than 0.3 percent THC. These products are available across most of the United States with very few exceptions. (You can read about state CBD/THC laws in the earlier section “Being aware of the laws in your state.”)

A quick checklist for buying a quality product – check the label for the following:

Reading the Label

Test Results (COA) – Providing COAs to consumers is technically required only in the medical and adult-use cannabis spaces. But in the spirit of full disclosure and openness, it has become an industry standard in the CBD space on a national level because brands are looking to build trust with their consumers. For that reason, any brand of note will provide you with a readily accessible COA.

Concentration - The concentration is particularly important here because when you’re buying CBD to treat a particular condition, you want to make sure you’re getting an appropriate product for your needs. A higher concentration CBD product isn’t necessarily the best CBD product. On the other hand, a product with a concentration that’s too small may not be able to address your condition.

Extraction Method - In CBD products, safety is paramount, so transparency on the label about the extraction method is imperative. Look for details about how the CBD was extracted.  

Hemp Cannabis or THC Cannabis - Whether the origin of your CBD product is hemp or cannabis is largely only relevant if you live in a state that disallows cannabis (see the earlier section “Being aware of the laws in your state”). Certain conditions and ailments, such as some neurological conditions, are better treated with a higher concentration of THC than is nationally legal for hemp cannabis. Such treatments are available only from cannabis dispensaries in regulated states.

Ingredients - The ingredients used as carriers, bases, or additives in your CBD are as important as the CBD itself. For example, some bases affect CBD’s bioavailability (your body’s ability to receive the CBD more readily). Some ingredients counteract the desired effects of CBD

Sustainability - Hemp-derived CBD is an agricultural commodity. As the demand increases, so will the technology and capabilities for driving the cost of production down and the profits up. That usually means a decrease in quality, an increase in pesticides, and an inevitable breeding structure for the plant that serves volume over quality.

Health Claims - As I write this, the CBD space itself has an incredible lack of regulation. On a national level, however, FDA guidelines prohibit products in the natural category with no clinical trials or proven medical effectiveness (such as CBD) from claiming to treat any condition or implying it can through imagery and coercive wording.

Growing Method - Regardless of the country producing the CBD, the growing method is pretty important, particularly if you’re looking for cannabis-derived CBD. You can grow cannabis indoors or outdoors. Connoisseurs tend to prefer indoor varieties because the growers can have more control over the different aspects of the plant that create CBD’s specific characteristics and benefits. Environmentalists and some cannabis advocates (and the original growers of the space) argue that, with the right considerations, you can grow great quality product outdoors — with a much more sustainable footprint.


At each level of dosing, give your body at least three days to adjust to determine whether that dose is accurate. I can understand being eager to get the effects you’re after, but when introducing something new to your body, you need to give it time to react and enter your bloodstream for maximum effect

In the end, making a decision that best serves you is up to you. This is your body and your health, and being as informed as possible is the best way to make a good decision.

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