There are literally hundreds of CBD retailers – but only a few sell CBD products with any medical efficacy. There are some very important questions to ask before deciding where to buy:
Where was the starting material (hemp) grown? Is it organic?
Correct Answer: In the United States – all products should derived from organic hemp grown in the United States. Hemp grown in the European Union (EU) is acceptable (although less preferable than US-grown) ONLY if it is grown using organic methods and the company can prove the lack of pesticides, mold, and heavy metals through current test results (see below).
Watch Out For: Hemp grown in China. Even in countries with agricultural regulations, the list of approved pesticides is far from safe. Thus you are really relying on the specific company’s ethical standards when it comes to hemp cultivation. The reason this is such a big deal with hemp when compared to other plants, is that hemp is a dynamic accumulator plant. Dynamic accumulator is a term used to describe plants that gather minerals – both good and bad – from the surrounding soil and store them in its tissues. So if you’re growing a hemp plant with petroleum-based pesticides in soil that contains heavy metals…you’re inevitably going to have a hemp plant containing both toxic pesticides and heavy metals. This is why many people have poor experiences when first trying CBD – you buy your vegetables organically, why not your hemp? The presence of these toxins is not regulated by any agency and they will end up in your CBD oil if you don’t purchase from the correct company. We like Joy Organics because they ensure that all of their CBD productsare produced from organically and sustainably grown hemp without the use of pesticides.
Is the company vertically integrated?
Correct Answer: Yes, this is the only way to ensure top to bottom quality, consistency, and safety. All hemp should be organically grown on-site and final the extracted products should be produced in-house with sustainable practices. This is important because it gives the company full control over all the inputs in their tinctures, salves, and other products.
Watch Out For: Companies that won’t or can’t tell you where their plant material is sourced. If they wholesale the material from a farm, can they ensure the product is free of pesticides and mold via a laboratory test?
Does the company provide test results?
Correct Answer: Each batch of flower AND finished product should be tested by a state certified testing facility for potency, legality and safety. These test results should also be made available to any patient that requests them. These tests should certify 3 things: the amount of CBD contained in the product, the amount of THC in the product (the starting hemp plant material must test below 0.3%), and the lack of mold or toxic pesticides.
Watch Out For: Companies that do not have test results or refuse to give them to customers. Also be wary of companies who only test one batch of finished product and then assume that all future batches will be the same – big mistake. Hemp is a product of nature and thus, no two batches will ever be identical – even in the most regulated environment. The company must provide you test results for the actual product you intend to purchase as well as the plant material used to make it – otherwise you are jeopardizing your safety and the medical efficacy of the product.
How is the CBD extracted?
Correct Answer: Organic ethanol wash – this is one of the oldest and most natural way to derive a full spectrum extract from the cannabis plant. Critical CO2 extractions are also acceptable and produce a full spectrum CBD extract. A full spectrum extract strips all the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant – in this case, without the need to use any toxic hydrocarbons. Ethanol washes and CO2 extractions produce a CBD extract that is 100% safe and solvent-free. Full spectrum extracts utilize the whole plant which results in an extract with greater medical efficacy than isolating and administering CBD, for instance, on its own.
Watch Out For: Companies who won’t disclose their extraction method or utilize hydrocarbons like butane and propane. These substances are toxic in high amounts and even with proper purging, most hydrocarbon extracts contain residual solvent. Other extraction methods do not result in a full spectrum extract – meaning they were not able to extract all of the beneficial compounds from the hemp plant (i.e. you don’t get the full range of benefits).
What carrier substance is used in the CBD oil to deliver the CBD extract?
Correct Answer: Ingestible CBD oil should be comprised of coconut MCT oil and full spectrum hemp extract (the part that contains the actual CBD). It’s important that the carrier oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), like coconut oil, because it is easier for the body to digest. Remember that cannabinoids are best delivered to the body in either fat or alcohol as a carrier.
Watch Out For: Companies who use cheap oil carriers that don’t contain MCTs. Also look out for products that don’t clearly and accurately state the ingredients used. It’s important you as a consumer can identify all inputs – especially if the product is being used for medical or therapeutic purposes.
CBD Vape Oil: What Exactly Is In the Product?
Correct Answer: Any CBD vape oil you purchase should consist of a very short list of ingredients: a carrier oil (such as MCT oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil) and CBD or hemp extract (depending on how the company labels its CBD concentrate), with a possible ingredient or two added for flavoring, whether it be a proprietary terpene blend or a natural or artificial flavoring. Another possible addition is vegetable glycerin, a common thinning agent that has not been shown to be harmful when vaporized. That’s it. Anything else should raise an eyebrow.
Watch Out For: Anything containing propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol. These compounds have been associated with the formation of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and acetaldehyde that can cause cancer and other disease in humans. Steer clear of any product intended to be inhaled that contains these ingredients.
This is something we’re very particular about, and for good reason: propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol are two common thinning agents used by many manufacturers to ease the flow of the finished product. While both of these ingredients are generally recognized as safe for topical application and oral consumption, multiple studies have shown that they become toxic when heated to the temperatures required for vaporization, and especially in high-temperature vaporizers designed to create big clouds of vapor (you know, the popular kind!). For this reason, we avoid all vape products containing propylene glycol, CBD or otherwise.
- No phone number
- No indication of where plant material is sourced
- Can’t speak to a real person – even via email
- No test results
- Not organic
- No clear indication of dosage (or of which cannabinoid)
A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing
If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn’t an unfounded concern — however, there isn’t exactly a cut-and-dry way to answer it.
Much of the data we have about CBD is anecdotal, and its potential impact on drug testing is no exception. There are very few peer-reviewed studies on the subject, but there appears to be a small risk of a false positive for some users. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing traces of THC can reduce your risk of a false positive, but that may not eliminate the risk entirely.
If you are concerned about passing a drug test, you should consider this potential risk when deciding whether CBD is right for you. To learn more about the science of CBD and drug testing, check out our article for a more thorough discussion of how to minimize your risk of a false positive.
Who Do We Trust?
We have visited Joy Organics’ greenhouse facility in Colorado and seen their organic, sustainable cultivation methods first hand. We’ve viewed their test results and experienced great personal success with their products. If you’re interested in truly high quality, organic plant-based medicine, we only recommend Joy Organics.