5 Steps to Steer Clear of Low-Quality CBD

As a brand that prides itself on making the highest-quality CBD products possible – it’s really irritating how many low-quality CBD products are readily available.

Brands that sneak past the rules risk creating unregulated, unsafe, and potentially unhealthy products that can leave you worse off than you were before.

Don’t rely on pretty packaging and positive reviews when making CBD decisions. Here we’ll review all the basics on how to pick your CBD product from the best brands possible.

Follow these pointers, and you’ll steer way clear of shady products and bad practices.

1.  Start with the Seed: Go Organic

The brand should either be growing their own hemp or have a clear and transparent relationship with their supplier. As a rule of thumb – the ‘closer’ the brand is to the seed, the better.

First things first – check where your CBD is grown. Ideally, the hemp should be grown in the U.S. so you can be confident in the safety regulations they follow. Information about how the hemp is grown and managed should be readily available.

Why does organic farming matter? Hemp plants are like sponges. They bioaccumulate pesticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants that will then appear in the final product. Although extraction works to remove these things, they can still affect product quality.

Organic farming is not only good for the environment – it ensures a high-quality final product.

2. Look for Pure and Gentle CO2 Processing

There are two main methods that CBD is extracted – CO2 and ethanol extraction. CO2 extraction is considered better since it creates purer results.

It’s still relatively new for CBD processing and is expensive to do. But – if a brand is investing in the equipment to do CO2 extraction, that’s a good sign that they’re committed to creating high-quality CBD. 

CO2 processing kills mildew, mold, mites, and other bacteria. CO2 extraction is gentler, which allows it to better retain the natural taste, aroma, and health benefits in the hemp plant.

Food-grade ethanol extraction (also known generally as alcohol extraction) isn’t a bad method. In fact, it’s commonly used in a range of food processing. However, it’s not the preferred option for CBD since it leaves behind a gross solution that needs to be removed.

3. Check the Receipts: View Third-Party Lab Results

Alright – so you’ve checked that the hemp is carefully grown and extracted. Even at this point, brands can mess stuff up. The wrong storage, potency, and processing can still introduce harmful contaminants and variations in product potency.

Worst of all, this problem is super common. Studies show that most online CBD products are mislabeled.

Every brand is going to say they’re the safest, most awesomest choice ever. But, the only real way to know is by looking at third-party lab results. These are also referred to as the Certificate of Analysis (COA).

Third-party lab results ensure that a lab that is unaffiliated with the brand reviewed the safety, potency, and ingredients of the product. And get this – this lab test should be regularly run on every individual product line. (AKA – if you see that the tincture is safe, don’t assume the same thing about their soft gels.)

When you get your hands on the lab results, here’s a quick checklist of what to look for in the COA:

  • Confirm that the lab is a third-party and accredited
  • Check the cannabinoid potency matches what’s advertised
  • THC content should be less than 0.3% (varies by state)
  • Product should “Pass” the standards for certain contaminants


4. Do the Math: Know What You’re Paying For

Now that you know how to find the CBD content on the lab report, cross-check that info with the product label. If the label is correct, now you can run a calculation on how much you’re paying for each milligram of CBD you’re getting.

If one brand seems expensive – you might find that given the CBD and range of cannabinoids you get, it’s actually not that bad.

Shady brands will use a range of fillers, synthetics, and even hemp oil (not the same as CBD oil) to round out their product. To avoid bad CBD products – don’t buy anything that doesn’t say how many milligrams of CBD is in the product.

Double Check Your CBD Isolate

Now wait – you might think you can avoid checking the cannabinoids entirely if you buy CBD isolate. When made right, CBD isolate is 99% CBD and nothing else.

Unfortunately, some shady brands don’t know when to quit. They’ll try to use synthetic isolate cannabinoids and pass it off as a legit but cheaper version of CBD isolate.

If you see this – get your shoes on and run! There’s no such thing as synthetic CBD isolate. These synthetics are usually isolates of a different yet similar marijuana compound – one that is likely poorly researched and regulated.

5. Watch Out for CBD Brands That Promise to Make All Your Dreams Come True

As good as that sounds – you’ve 100% got to avoid any brand that promises to relieve or cure diseases or other specific health issues.

The FDA has strictly prohibited CBD brands from claiming medicinal properties.  Any company willing to market these extreme claims is way out of line. Just think – if they’re willing to make wild promises in their results, imagine how loose and fast they may be with their product. 

As a final check – look at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Warning Letters. These letters are sent to brands that break the rules (claiming wrong CBD levels, extreme health claims, etc.). Think of it as an old-western “Wanted” poster. Avoid these brands and help fellow CBD users avoid them too.

We know this probably feels like an overwhelming number of steps to review before making a purchase.

Thankfully, the best brands make all the above info readily available on their website and product pages. If you’re having trouble finding this info – well, consider that your first warning sign.

The products you use to improve your health deserve to be held to high standards and extra scrutiny. Bookmark this page as a handy reference for your next CBD product purchase.