How to Identify Sustainable and Legitimate CBD Products – From the Lab Reports to the Terminology

2018 was undoubtedly the breakout year for CBD – short for cannabidiol. You may have seen it at your neighborhood organic health store, read about it online, or talked about it with a friend, but one thing is certain – you’ve heard of it.

The widespread usage, and perhaps even notoriety, may be warranted. Some research suggests it may be helpful for chronic pain, arthritis, depression, epilepsy, and trouble sleeping (insomnia). Its anti-inflammatory properties have led it to be used in topicals, lotion, and beauty products as well. (Legal disclaimer: We’re not saying CBD has therapeutic or medicinal benefits.)

Most Recently, Congress legalized hemp across the nation with the landmark 2018 Farm Bill. This legislation moves hemp off the list of banned controlled substances (Drug Enforcement Agency Schedule I Substance), giving farmers a chance to not only ensure their crop, but also be allowed to use banking and advertising services, among others.

Quick aside note – the drama continues about CBD’s legality with the FDA’s subsequent statement.

However, CBD’s surge in popularity doesn’t come without consequence, and unfortunately, the CBD industry is a bit of the wild, wild west right now. It’s an unregulated market, and until there is either a) clear market leaders who have established themselves as consistent producers of top-quality CBD products or b) regulatory and compliance around hemp and CBD products, there will be the occasional bad actors.

Most commonly, you’ll find some brands claiming to be “organic”, “fair trade”, or [insert any other naturopathic buzzword]. Most of the time, these are attempts to get the customer through the door or to the checkout screen, so how do you know what to look for in a good CBD product? Better yet, how do you know if your CBD is produced with sustainability in mind? We want to arm you – the CBD customer – with the necessary knowledge to combat such schemers!

Familiarize Yourself with Terminology

In identifying legitimate CBD products, take care to know the difference between hemp seed oil and hemp extract oil. At a nearby farmer’s market, you may find brands calling their product cannabis oil or some derivative of that, when, in reality, it is simply hemp seed oil (we’ve even seen olive oil before). These bad actors are using hemp seed oil (olive oil, canola oil, etc.) and passing it off as natural CBD oil.

CBD is a cannabinoid, and cannabinoids are extracted from the leaves of the hemp plant, while hemp seed oil is produced by cold pressing hemp seeds. Hemp seed oil, while still offering health benefits via rich omega fatty acids, will not contain any cannabinoids, and thus won’t provide the sought-after benefits of CBD.

Let’s keep going…

When cannabinoids are extracted from the flower of the hemp plant, this extract (oil) will contain many different cannabinoids, of which CBD is one of them. If you hear the term “whole plant extract” or “full spectrum extract”, this usually means the product contains all of the cannabinoids extracted. If you hear “CBD oil”, it likely means the manufacturer isolated just the CBD cannabinoid from the extract and used that in their product, signifying that there are no other cannabinoids present.

* Some products may contain hemp seed oil and CBD oil as some products will use the hemp seed oil as a carrier oil, meaning it’s used as a base.

Read the Label – And Know What to Look For

Even though hemp is now federally legal, it doesn’t mean it is federally regulated (yet). As a result, companies have a responsibility to provide the full story on their labels. High-quality hemp and CBD brands will be third-party tested and also be proud to present that to the consumer. This third-party testing process is conducted by laboratories that confirm the CBD oil is free of harmful pesticides, foreign products, byproducts of extraction, or other unwanted particles.

At a minimum, you should be able to see a potency report, which will identify the concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids in the product. Absent the potency report, you won’t be able to know if that product actually has cannabinoids or if it is just filled with an innocuous alternative oil, such as hemp seed oil.

Support Brands That Go The Extra Mile

In addition to the lab reports, there are the brands who stand out as not only committed to their craft of producing a fine, top-quality hemp product but also to sustainable standards. These are brands that Halso seeks to align with and happily hosts their products.  

Juna Logo

One CBD brand that stands out is Juna which was started by Jewel Zimmer – a former fine-dining pastry chef and certified sommelier – in San Francisco, California. Juna uses single-origin flowers and ingredients from boutique farms and an ultra-clean extraction processes, all of which contribute to a sustainable brand and reputable products. “Hemp and cannabis are already very sustainable and environmentally friendly plants because of their regenerative properties. At Juna, we always source our plant material from farmers that also have a mission to work with the earth and not against it.” – Jewel Zimmer.

Photo shot of Potli Hemp CBD Infused Honey
Potli’s Hemp Infused Honey

If you’re interested in a hemp-infused olive oil or honey, look no further than Potli, who sources all of their ingredients hyper-regionally and all of their packaging domestically. “In fact, all of our packaging is designed to be reusable”, says cofounder Felicity Chen. You can participate in their up-cycling campaign by giving your glass jar and cardboard tube another purpose in your home after use. It’s clear that Potli is committed to minimizing their carbon footprint while supporting local economies and ensuring our clients the utmost quality.

Additionally, Potli is on a mission to help counter the recent bee colony collapses: “For every batch of Potli sold, we build another sustainable, all-natural hive for our bee friends. With your help, we can build new habitats, raise awareness, and improve crop growth and yields in the community.”

Product Image of Shea Brand's CBD Natural Pain Reliever
Shea Brand’s CBD Natural Pain Reliever

One of our favorite CBD brands with an environmental conscious is Shea Brand –  “…all of our products are made with minimal-plastic, 100% recyclable packaging, and we take care to asses all packaging-related requirements against their environmental and humanitarian impact.” says cofounder Austin Katz.

Wildflower CBD also sells a rechargeable vaporizer kit, which helps cut down on one’s plastic and consumable use. Lastly, CBDistillery products are non-GMO and they use recyclable glass in their bottles.

These type of brands – often started by professionals in a peripheral market such as the food industry – are able to translate their experience and expertise to not only create unique and premium CBD offerings but also create and manufacture in a sustainable and responsible manner.

Making the Final Call

Choosing your CBD products should be an informed decision, but it shouldn’t become overwhelming. At Halso, our goal is to make the CBD buying process easier and more user friendly. If a product sounds great but you still aren’t sure, reach out directly. We’re happy to help where we can, even if it’s a non-Halso product.