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How to Make an Informed Decision When Buying CBD

With the recent legalization of hemp, the CBD market is on the upswing. Forecasts show that by 2025, CBD sales in the United States will reach $15 billion, spreading to as high as $20B. These numbers take into account both products being sold through licensed dispensaries, as well as general market retailers such as pharmacies, stores, smoke shops, and cafes. Nevertheless, forecasters predict that the majority of CBD products will sell through general retail stores (online and offline) instead of cannabis dispensaries.

Today, people can go online and choose from hundreds of different brands and dozens of different types of products such as CBD oil, cream, spray, beverage, sublingual, and more. While having more options is generally good; there are some drawbacks. It is particularly true with a relatively new industry such as the CBD market.

It will take some time before this industry will be fully regulated and supervised, meaning that there’s still a door open for many flagrant con artists to sell sub-par products disguised as the real thing. As such, customers will have a tough time differentiating high-quality from low-quality and will need to be made aware of the potential risks as well as how to make an informed decision whenever they make a purchase.

This will not only help prevent people from wasting money on low-quality but can also help prevent them from putting their own health at risk due to the potentially unsafe ingredients of the product. It’s for this reason why consumers need to know what to look out for when buying CBD. Below are some tips for choosing the right CBD products that will best suit your needs.

Hemp or Marijuana CBD

When looking to buy CBD, consumers need to know that it can be made from either hemp or marijuana. Both plants are part of the cannabis family but with a significant difference. Hemp has much higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC (the active compound known for its psychoactive effects – the feeling of high). Marijuana, on the other hand, is the opposite.

Keep in mind that federal law requires hemp and CBD products have a THC concentration no higher than 0.3%. Marijuana and marijuana-derived CBD products are highly regulated, and you can only purchase through dispensaries where legal. Hemp CBD, however, is federally legal, with its exact legal status depending on the state.

That said, you need to know what you require and be aware that marijuana CBD products can have psychoactive effects. Taking this type of CBD can result in a positive drug test. Athletes or those undergoing regular drug screening tests, in particular, should stick only to hemp-based CBD products.

Checking the Label

According to a study called “Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online,” just 31% of CBD products analyzed were accurately labeled. A great way to understand the quality of the product you are about to buy is to check its COA (Certificate of Analysis). Here, you’ll find details regarding the CBD source, its quality, composition, potency, solvents used, microbial analysis, the testing done for heavy metals, fungicides, herbicides, pesticides, etc. All reputable and trustworthy CBD companies will publish their COA.

If there’s no COA, if its barebones, or looks like it’s been tampered with, it’s best that you pass on that product. Without this certification, you risk buying and consuming a fraudulent product packed with all sorts of toxins.

Keep in mind that some companies provide these reports after purchase or if by a submitted formal request. These reports are issued by third-party laboratories that, themselves, should be ISO-certified. In any case, COA reports should not only match the ingredients and quantities present on the label but also determine any existing harmful contaminants such as heavy metals or microbial contaminants like mold or bacteria. These receive a Pass or Fail mark based on established safe limits. Lastly, the COA report needs to be recent, meaning no older than one year.

Seed to Shelf Traceability

While some CBD brands hold close ties with their hemp farmers or CBD isolate suppliers, others do not. Even new companies with good intentions but limited CBD knowledge can be fooled into thinking that they’re dealing with premium suppliers when, in fact, they are not.

There are two areas here that need particular attention: sourcing and cultivation practices.

  • Sourcing – The international CBD market isn’t as regulated, and it’s hard to keep track of product origins. It’s for this reason you should purchase CBD products originating from recognized regions. Hemp can be sourced from numerous places including, China, Europe, or the United States. Also know that cannabis plants, hemp included, suck everything out from the ground, good or bad. The US has a nutrient-rich soil as well as superior cultivation standards, making it the best geographical location for hemp cultivation. In the US, the states with the best soil and standards are Oregon, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Colorado.
  • Cultivation Practices – Second, are the cultivation practices used to produce the hemp. It includes things such as seed sourcing from accredited collectives, abstaining from the use of pesticides, GMOs, proper maintenance of soil pH, etc. This information may be difficult to track, but if a company readily discloses it and their sources, it’s a good sign. The best scenario is when the company owns the farm and can oversee the whole seed to shelf process. 

The Brand’s Reputation

Another thing to look out for online is the brand’s reputation. What do other consumers say about their experience with that brand and product? How are their reviews? Are there any alarming complaints or praise from their customers? While this information alone will not guarantee the quality of a product, it will provide you with some useful insights into what you can expect.


CBD products are known for their many health benefits. That said, not all CBD is the same, and you need to know what to look out for and make an informed decision. For more information, feel free to check out our website or email us at