When buying industrial hemp CBD, i.e. everything you see outside of a state-licensed dispensary, all bets are off. Because the legality of industrial hemp is in flux, companies that use hemp CBD operate in a gray market with no oversight. Nick Mosely, Chief Science Officer of a testing lab in Washington explained that “everything currently on the market for interstate CBD sales is unregulated.” And product labels can be wildly different from what's actually contained in the product. Multiple studies of CBD oil sold online have repeatedly exposed brands that misrepresent purity and CBD dosage levels.
There are new CBD companies coming online every week – these span the range from truly awful to really great. So how to choose the best? The quality of the CBD oil itself is obviously the most important factor – and many companies do take the quality of their products seriously. To reward those companies, we gave more weight to the quality of the product than any other category.
To get almonds from an almond tree, you can just shake the tree. To get juice from an orange, you can simply squeeze the fruit. But getting CBD oil from hemp is a much more complicated process. The cheapest and easiest ways to extract CBD oil from hemp commonly involve harsh solvents that can leave chemical residue in the CBD oil. The best, and most reliable extraction method, uses carbon dioxide (CO2) under high pressure and extremely low temperatures to pull out as much CBD as possible without introducing contaminants. Once the CO2 is no longer under intense pressure, it simply evaporates, leaving virtually no trace of extraction on the CBD oil.
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).
We also rated the product based on the type of CBD they used: isolate, full-spectrum decarb, broad-spectrum, or distillate. There’s a lot of debate around what is actually best, but our first decision was to give points to CBD oil that contains a range of cannabinoids. While there are certainly people with good reasons for choosing an isolate, there’s a lot of good evidence that CBD works better in combination with other cannabinoids (this is called the “entourage effect”).
So, now we’ve covered the difference between marijuana and hemp products, along with the brief discussion on CBD vs THC. We’ve covered how to decide how much to buy. And, we’ve covered how to determine which product type is best for you. (If you’d like to read more very helpful information, please view our Frequently Asked Questions by clicking the button further down the page.) Below are a few key points about Highland Pharms to wrap up our discussion:
We gave the highest points to companies that use a CBD distillate for their tinctures. The process of distillation creates an extract that is pure on a molecular level. There are people who think distillate is too pure, and that a full spectrum decarb produces a more effective tincture. But in light of the inconclusive evidence, we prefer a distillate. The process allows for a high degree of control as to the finished product. It’s also odorless and tasteless, so those tinctures tend to taste better.
CBD in all forms has enormous potential. Doctors are excited, the wellness community is excited, and I personally slather hemp CBD on my face to keep eczema at bay and put dropperfuls under my tongue to deal with anxiety. But, like all things marketed as panaceas, be skeptical and do your research before buying. If you’re interested trying CBD, always talk to your doctor first (particularly if you’re on other medication, which can interact with the cannabinoid). Start with a small dose and work your way up
GMP stands for Good Manufacturing Practices, and it covers the practices required to ensure products are produced according to industry standards. The agencies that control the authorization and licensing of the manufacture and sale of these products provide guidelines, and the manufacturer must adhere to these guidelines to make sure their products remain consistent and of high quality from batch to batch.
Hemp is a bioaccumulator, meaning it is capable of absorbing both the good and the bad from the air, water, and soil in which it’s grown. This makes it all the more important to know that your CBD oil comes from organically grown hemp that can be tracked to its US-grown source. The last thing buyers want is for their CBD oil to have accumulated toxic substances such as pesticides, herbicides, or heavy metals. For decades, farmers have used pesticides to protect crops against insects, disease, and fungi – and have used herbicides to control weeds – but we’ve known for quite some time that chemicals used to harm other species can also be harmful to our own species. That’s one big reason behind the global push to go organic. People are starting to prioritize organic crops, whether you’re talking about fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, livestock feed – even textiles like cotton, wool, and flax.