CBD stores are popping up everywhere, but they are not all created equal. Since CBD is not currently Federally regulated the compounds found in the end products have quite a large range. Some are full spectrum with .3% THC, some are broad spectrum with no THC. Some have the full cannabinoid spectrum; some only have 1 cannabinoid (CBD). Then there is the terpene and flavonoid profile variations.
CBD is hemp derived and hemp can literally grow anywhere. If you throw a seed out in your yard and didn’t mow the lawn you would have a full-grown plant inside of 90 days. You can even extract your own CBD using rudimentary methods in your home, which can be both good and bad. Homegrown and home extracted CBD is unpredictable at best. The most common home extraction method is ethanol, which if not done correctly can contaminate the end product. Growing hemp is not like home microbrewing. It is illegal to grow hemp without a license in North Carolina, South Carolina and multiple other states.
There are several hemp farmers who produce hemp products, but rely on the buyer of raw hemp to fully test and obtain certificate of analysis (COA) on the product. They are not responsible for that processing which could potentially change the compounds found in end product. With that said, there are many CBD companies nationwide that buy this raw material hemp and process in small quantities. Either through a local lab or in their home or office space, sometimes adding flavors or essential oils. Anybody can buy bulk bottles and hire a good printing company and make a product look professional.
This wild wild west of CBD is causing a lot of legal confusion as well as consumer and medical confusion. Legislation does not know where to begin to regulate a plant anyone can grow, but by having THC limitations is a start. Then there is the issue of how similar CBD hemp flower and THC marijuana flower look and smell alike, which is putting law enforcement at a loss of how to navigate the possession of either.
Consumers are at a loss and don’t know if what they are buying is even what it says on the bottle and many don’t know what questions to ask to dig for solid answers. The medical community has been testing the results of using cannabinoids as medicine for over a decade and though they are uncovering medical uses everyday getting that information out to the medical community as a whole and keeping up with state by state laws and product quality remains a challenge.
To navigate these ever-changing waters here are a few tips:
- Know your source. Buy from a physical store that is educated where you can speak with the staff directly. Stores that specialize in hemp are going to have the most turn around and therefore the freshest product.
- Ask questions. As a consumer you have the right to know where the products coming from, how and where it is being processed and to see copies of the COA’s.
- Brands and endorsements. Who does the brand and store that carries it align themselves with? If a store works closely with practitioners and fellow clinicians that goes a long way. Do they work directly with athletes? If they do, chances are they are also working with that athlete medical team to find the correct formulation.
In the end, be your own advocate and work with a trusted source to help you with your CBD questions and needs.