The popularity of CBD in the US does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. CBD products are popping up everywhere; in supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies, smoke shops, vitamin shops, even pet stores and of course, online.
While the 2018 Farm Bill legalised hemp-derived CBD products, the FDA still has not regulated the CBD market. In this article I will list and explain the five most important considerations when choosing a CBD brand.
Types of CBD Extract
There are three main types of CBD; Hightops believes that full-spectrum and broad-spectrum have the most benefits, while isolate is considered the least effective form of CBD.
The entire cannabis plant is used in the production of full-spectrum CBD. It contains CBD, less than 0.3% THC, small levels of minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other phytochemicals present in hemp. This type is highly recommended as the most effective in producing medicinal benefits due to the Entourage Effect. This synergy of cannabis compounds helps with bioavailability, defined as how effectively a drug or medication is absorbed and utilized by the body systems.
The entire cannabis plant without the THC is used in the production of broad-spectrum CBD.
This is pure CBD in which all the other hemp compounds are removed. It often appears as a white crystalline powder or a CBD oil or tincture. It does have some benefits but is much less effective than whole-plant products.
Hemp Farming Standards
Highly recommended sources for organic hemp are from Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon and European countries where hemp farming has been legal for almost 100 years. Even more important is to look for a company that does the following:
Contains the USDA-Certified Organic Hemp Label
- Most companies do grow their hemp organically. However, to assure an extra level of quality, many companies are completing the USDA Organic Certification process which allows them to use the “USDA Organic” label on their products.
Contains the US Hemp Authority Certification Seal
An even more stringent regulating body, the US Hemp Authority, has a certification program that affirms that hemp manufacturers follow strict guidelines on quality and safety standards for all aspects of production. Those with this certification may display a seal on their products.
In order to produce CBD products, hemp material is subjected to an extraction process. The method used will have a large effect on its quality.
Highly flammable solvents such as butane, hexane and propane have been used to extract CBD oil products. Not only are they dangerous, but harmful residual solvents may still remain in the finished product.
Currently, the two most common extraction methods used by CBD companies are supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethanol.
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
- Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it is the preferred extraction method in the cannabis industry today.
- Produces a pure, clean product with a higher yield than other methods with no residual solvent.
- CO2 can be recycled, making it the most environmentally friendly method.
- CO2 acts as a cleaning agent which removes harmful bacteria, mold and mildew
Third-Party Testing/Certificate of Analysis (CoA)
Be sure that the CBD products you purchase are subjected to third-party or independent lab testing. Its purpose is to provide an unbiased analysis of the product. Because the CBD market is so unregulated, such testing is especially important for whole-plant CBD extracts. It reassures consumers that the amount of CBD listed on the bottle is accurate and that it contains all the right components. The most common third-party testing includes the following information:
Cannabinoid Profile which includes CBD, THC and several of the minor cannabinoids
2. Terpene Profile
3. Heavy Metals
4. Organic Solvents
5. Biological Contaminants
Certificate of Analysis (CoA)
The CoA that accompanies the lab test should be easy to read and accessible for consumers. It is recommended that you read the CoA prior to purchasing any CBD product. It includes the following:
1. Supplier Information
2. Materials Information
3. Transportation Data
4. Evidence of Conformance
5. Signature Data
Packaging/Clear Product Labeling
The type of packaging for your CBD product is extremely important to preserve its quality and potency. Amber glass containers are ideal as glass is water-proof and protects the product from UV rays.
The label should clearly state all the ingredients contained in the product. It should also contain the brand name, give the net quantity of the contents, contact information, including website URL and phone number of the manufacturer, dosing instructions, the product’s purpose and a warning statement. A QR code is also very helpful for consumers.
A Final Tip
Be sure to check out each company’s website to see if they are transparent, ethical AND they receive extra points for being charitable!