How to Spot a Low Quality CBD Product

In our quest to try all.the.CBD, sadly we didn’t have to look far to see questionable marketing tactics insinuating to be the real deal when they weren’t. With the recent legality of CBD, and the boom in new products emerging to take advantage of it, we’re seeing new words and phrases created regularly to imply the product is a better quality than it actually is.

Just recently, I ordered Recess’s CBD sparkling water. It was packaged in a beautiful can, sold on a website with state-of-the-art bells and whistles, and delivered to me in customized packaging with quirky, fun messaging. From a marketing perspective, no detail was missed, no element cheapened. It looked like the real deal.

With positive reviews that it helps you “slip into a state of profoundly subtle calm,” I was stoked to crack open my can and taste. But first, I needed to read what was in it:

“Sparkling water infused with hemp extract and adaptogens”

This threw me for a loop because, while sounding similar, “hemp extract” is not the same as a “Hemp-derived CBD.” The latter is a focused, highly concentrated CBD product (which is good) while the former is a general hemp product including all the cannabinoids in the plant (not so good if you’re looking for CBD specifically).

It’s like buying a bag of Starbursts – you’re blind to what the color breakdown will look like inside but you’re praying to the Gods above for all pinks (if you’re a normal person and not a psychopath who loves orange).

A hemp extract product is like that bag in that you’re probably going to get all the cannabinoids in the plant (i.e. all color bursts), but you have no idea how much, if any, CBD (pink bursts) is in it. On the other hand, a hemp-derived CBD product would be like a bag of Starbursts that guarantees 70% pink bursts – it will include all the cannabinoids in the plant but states a certain amount of CBD you can depend on.

The problem with Recess’s hemp extract drink is that we have no idea how much CBD is in it. In fact, there could be 0.01% CBD in the can, far too little to make any kind of impact.

A few weeks later, I bought their competitor’s product, Sprig Soda, which positions itself as a “delicious, refreshing, CBD-infused soda.” Their marketing material is a bit better, claiming “all-natural CBD derived from agricultural hemp.” But alas, in tiny writing on the back of the can, it says:

“20mg of premium CBD Isolate.”

The problem here is that little word “isolate.” Research is beginning to support what’s known as “the entourage effect” which states that CBD is more effective when combined with the rest of the cannabinoids in the plant. A CBD isolate product means the CBD has been stripped away from the rest of the plant and is isolated in the product, making it potentially less effective.

Between these two brands, the perfect CBD product is somewhere in the middle. We want all the cannabinoids in the plant like Recess but also a stated amount of CBD in the product like Sprig. Ultimately, this would be called a Broad or Full Spectrum Hemp-derived CBD product, including a stated amount of CBD on the label.

To be fair, neither of these products practiced false advertising as the labels clearly said what was in them and everyone has their own preferences, so while I was personally bummed that the products didn’t hold up to my expectations, others may genuinely love them. And that’s okay.

The main point here is that there’s a lot that goes into the quality of our CBD products and it can get really technical really fast. The only way around this is to educate yourself on the lingo and read everything before you buy. The majority of what you need to know can be summed up in two categories:

1. The role of Hemp

2. The role of Cannabinoids

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