Why is it so hard to figure out what CBD products to buy?

Quality vs. Value

The CBD industry is flooded with so many CBD products and brands. It has become overwhelming to vet and investigate this highly beneficial and efficacious molecule. There are studies that are currently under peer review that will help draw a correlation between using this product regularly and positive COVID compounds. The studies are just beginning in all areas of what this plant can do. 

Because CBD is derived from Medical Hemp, the compound occupies a unique space in it’s legal position for sale and distribution, which is compounded by the fact that the FDA has made no significant rules or standards for sale and distribution of this miraculous product. Why is this? Simply because hemp is cannabis, hemp is legal as per 2018 Farm Bill, cannabis is federally restricted. 

See the challenge? 

Thankfully, we are an industrious species and have continued to protect and improve the cannabis and hemp plants despite the federal ban at the research level. There are some absolutely groundbreaking products out there with price ranges from $20 up to $200 for seemingly the exact same product. How does the average person determine what is best for them?

As with all things sold, the consumer will determine for themselves what is the best value for the price they are willing or able to pay. Let’s start by determining the quality of the CBD you are looking at purchasing.


Research the company you are contemplating a purchase from. How long has this company been in business. Does their website show an understanding of how CBD works?  This is particularly important with third party retailers, like Amazon. Amazon does not allow the sale of CBD. Manufacturers get around this by calling their product Hemp Oil, which is a very different product than CBD. It does not contain the same CBD extract as the products that call themselves CBD. You may say ‘But it works for me!”. You may be somewhat lucky in that the manufacturer does have real CBD extract in the bottle but is misrepresenting as Hemp Oil to get the product on Amazon. They won your purchase but what else are they not showing you or being completely honest about?

Certificate of Analysis

The next step in understanding the product quality is very simple. Ask for their Certificate of Analysis. The CoA must be issued by a their party independent lab. The lab results provide a clear picture of the type and amount of Hemp extract in the product, for example, is it simply CBD or are there other compounds like CBN or CBG with higher concentrations? The most important part is the test for pesticides, chemical contaminates, and other biological contaminants like mold or bacteria. These tests should be posted on their site or readily available for review.


Now that you know what to look for, how do you determine value? There are some very high end, single element (CBD vs CBG/CBN/Terpenes) that sell for $120 that provide only 60 mg of active ingredient. There are others that sell for $75 for 1000 mg of active ingredient. Why the difference? 

In reality, unless there is a taste or experiential difference in the product you are researching, the active ingredient is what has the most value and is probably the most expensive component in the formulation. Using the two examples above, you can do simple math to determine which product has a better value based on the concentration of CBD:

$120 per bottle @ 60 mg in the bottle = $0.50 per mg of CBD

$75 per bottle @ 1000 mg in the bottle = $0.08 per mg of CBD

This is a molecule. It isn’t going to be faster or work better because you pay more. There is an exception to this rule. A product that has CBD molecules that have been made smaller by subjecting it to a process that either sonically or via a spray dry process. This effectively makes the molecules smaller and thereby more bioavailable. These products tend to be much more expensive due to the additional process and less active ingredient is provided as less is required to be effective. This is usually referred to as a Nano or Spray Dried product. This type of product is trickier to assess because a typical laboratory can not detect the active ingredient in the CoA due to the size of the molecule. There are only a handful of labs nationwide that can properly assess the content of a Nano-CBD product, making the analysis of those products more challenging. 

Sticking with a traditional product, find a good company and dig into their information and Certificates of Analysis. Use the same thought process for products that you ingest as well as any topicals like lotions or salves. There is a point of diminishing returns, meaning that your body can only process a finite amount of CBD at a time. Finding that perfect balance between the right product at the right price is a process worth taking some time to understand if a natural based pain or anxiety relief is what you are looking for in your regimen.