The 3 Most Important Things To Know When Buying CBD

By Tess Rose Lampert, via WeedMaps News.

The cannabidiol (CBD) trend is reaching into almost every industry — beer, manicures, and any other consumer products imaginable. This is just the tip of the iceberg and as products, services, and regulations rapidly change, it’s important to realize that not all CBD is created equal. 

In order to understand what differentiates one brand and product from another, consider how the CBD product was made — the What, Where and How of the entire process. 

There are key differences at each level of production, from growing and harvesting through extraction and refinement, all of which significantly affect the final product. Complicated federal and state regulations also have a part to play, giving some areas a commercial advantage. 

While there is still so much to learn, there is also so much new information to help consumers understand how to navigate the growing sea of CBD products

What: Hemp vs. Marijuana 

Let’s start from the source. 

Cannabis is a genus of plant to which both hemp and marijuana belong. Legally speaking, hemp is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% of the intoxicating cannabinoid THC. Marijuana is any variety of cannabis that contains more THC than that amount. 

The final cannabidiol (CBD) product you consume is affected by where the hemp or marijuana plant is grown and the methods used to extract the cannabinoid. (Photo by Demi Pradolin/Unsplash)

Marijuana has been used recreationally and medicinally since prehistoric times. Science may be just uncovering evidence-based benefits of cannabis, but like many other plants and natural remedies, it has been part of folk medicine for millennia. In addition to recreational and medicinal uses, fast growing and durable strains of hemp are used for clothing and industrial materials such as sponges and ropes. 

So does it matter which one CBD is extracted from? Yes and no. 

Both hemp-derived and marijuana-derived contain CBD, but from a federal point of view, it’s only legal to sell hemp-derived CBD in all 50 states. Hemp-derived CBD must be tested to confirm a THC level below 0.3%. Beside legal regulations, it doesn’t really matter which plant CBD comes from if it is being isolated during production; once it is isolated it is just the pure chemical. Even marijuana-derived CBD would have no intoxicating effects if isolated, so the law is really just another barrier to growing marijuana in general. But isolating CBD is just one option when it comes to processing, and not necessarily the ideal type of CBD product

Related: What Do Older Marijuana Consumers Use And Think? Researchers Now Know

Isolates contain just CBD, while other types of products include cannabinoids and terpenes and are called broad spectrum or full spectrum. The terms have no legal definitions and can sometimes be used interchangeably, though in general broad spectrum does not include THC, whereas full spectrum does. 

Legalities aside, what matters more than hemp or marijuana is how the plant is grown and processed. 

Where: Plant Material 

Selecting the source material is the first important step in determining the final product. First, producers need to decide if they will use the entire plant including stems, leaf, and flower, or only the flower. The flower is the most potent part of the plant, containing the most cannabinoids and terpenes. Opting for flower only, though, will substantially reduce the yield. 

Another consideration is how the plant is farmed. Just like other crops, some cannabis is grown to organic standards (cannabis can’t …

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