Buyer Beware – Not all CBD is created equal
When I tried CBD for the first time in late 2017, it almost felt as if I was breaking the law. The hemp-based tinctures I was given were clearly home-grown, probably filled in a commune by someone named Morning Star, smelling of patchouli. (Denver in the 90s was that place.) But the effect it had on me was life-changing. Morning Star turned out to be my hero.
Today, the rest of the world has caught up, and CBD is the most promising product in health and athletics. The business has evolved into a multi-billion-dollar free-for-all, attracting major players alongside flagrant charlatans, which means that not all CBD is created equal.
These days, most people won’t buy breath mints without knowing what’s in them, and the same should go for CBD. I’m here to help you navigate the market and find the best CBD for your health and performance. As my fans can attest, CBD has been transformative it’s been in my life, so identifying a quality product is an investment in my well-being. In other words, I’ve got your back.
1 – Check the label
The first thing to look out for is disclosure on the COA, or Certificate of Analysis. The COA tells you the quality of the CBD source, listing key information such as potency, microbial analysis, solvents, and any testing done for heavy metals and pesticides.
All reputable CBD companies use and publish COAs to verify the quality of their product. The product label should display a batch number which can be researched on the brand’s website for more information. Remember – the hemp plant absorbs everything that’s in the soil, which means the good and the bad. The COA will show what chemicals/compounds may be found in the hemp used, giving you an idea of its health.
(Pro-tip: Don’t buy any hemp that comes from Rocky Flats unless you’re cool with extra fingers and teeth that glow in the dark…)
If there’s no COA or if the COA seems bare bones or tampered with, take a pass. Without the complete COA information, you may be buying a product that’s toxic or fraudulent. Given the health risks—not to mention that true CBD can be pricey—it’s just not worth rolling the dice.
2 – Know the difference | Hemp vs. Marijuana
There’s a difference, and it’s critical: Hemp and marijuana are both cannabis plants, but hemp (typically called industrial hemp) has higher levels of CBD and lower levels of THC (the chemical compound that gets you high) than a marijuana plant. In fact, the federally legal definition of hemp requires the plant to contain no more than 0.3% of THC. Marijuana does contain some CBD, which means you’ll get its effects when you use it, but of course marijuana is highly regulated and can only be purchased through dispensaries where legal. CBD derived from hemp is federally legal, and its legal status in individual states is evolving on a state-by-state basis.
3 – Know what you’re looking for
Depending on your needs, you may prefer to get your CBD from either a hemp-derived product or one derived from marijuana. Personally, I stay completely away from marijuana-derived CBD because of the potential psychoactive effects of THC. It’s very important to note that if you use a CBD product derived from marijuana, THC may show up on a drug test, which is why athletes prefer hemp-based CBD. If you’re not an athlete or subject to drug-tests at your job, the CBD world is your oyster… though if you have kids you may want to think twice before keeping a marijuana-derived product in your household—unless of course, your kids just really need to chill out. (But seriously, don’t do it. We’ll narc on you, really.)
4 – Stay away from international imposters
International CBD has a lot of problems. Like I mentioned before, hemp is essentially a weed and will suck everything out of the soil. Make sure you know where your CBD is grown, and then do your research to make sure that region isn’t known for questionable agricultural practices or heavy metals and toxins in the soil. Until the international market is better regulated, I’d suggest staying local: You can find some of the best distributors based in Colorado, Kentucky, and Oregon.
5 – Keep a journal
The last tip I have for you is to keep a journal. No, it’s not for your poetry, but hey, if you feel inspired, go for it! Primarily, though, you want to keep a record of what CBD product(s) you’re using, how much CBD they contain, and how the CBD is affecting you. Once you’ve established a baseline of how your body is feeling, try experimenting with various amounts of CBD and other hemp-derived compounds/cannabinoids to see if there’s a difference for you. Figuring out exactly what works for your needs can be a marathon, but it’s so worth it.