Cannabidiol, more commonly known by its acronym CBD, is certainly having its time in the spotlight. CBD products are popping up everywhere you look: marijuana dispensaries both recreational and medical, stores that sell only CBD products, cafes and coffee shops that sell CBD-infused foods and drinks. Even convenience stores and gas stations have started selling CBD oil and similar items.
As one of the cannabis plant's primary compounds, CBD is known for its potentially therapeutic properties. While the cannabis plant naturally produces hundreds of different chemicals — known as cannabinoids — the two most well-known and arguably most important are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD.
THC is responsible for the bulk of marijuana's psychoactive effects — AKA the sensation of getting high. CBD serves as a counterbalance to THC, helping mellow the effects of THC and providing the bulk of cannabis's health and wellness qualities.
According to Harvard Medical School, CBD may help treat and reduce the incidence of certain types of seizures, relieve certain types of pain, reduce anxiety, help as a sleep aid, and offer other health benefits.
The new widespread availability of CBD products presents its own challenges. Primarily, you need to know how to determine which products legitimately contain high-quality CBD. Similarly, with so many places now selling CBD, you need to know how to find the best retailers where you can buy the best CBD oil and other CBD products. To navigate the massive world of CBD and find the best CBD oil for you, start with this guide.
Legal status of CBD oil
The legal status of CBD oil and other types of CBD products will largely define your shopping experience. Currently, CBD exists in a bit of a gray zone when it comes to the law. State and local laws vary in how they approach the sale and consumption of CBD, with some places being much more open and liberal and others remaining much more restrictive. For this reason, you should familiarize yourself with local CBD laws before starting the process of buying CBD oil near you because this will dictate how and where you buy your CBD.
At the federal level, CBD oil and other CBD products are currently much more accessible. The Farm Bill of 2018 introduced some big changes to laws surrounding hemp production, and many of these changes have been interpreted to directly relate to certain types of CBD products. Under the 2018 laws, hemp is defined as a cannabis plant with less than 0.3% THC. Further, hemp plants were moved off of the federal list of banned substances and are now legal to grow, harvest, manufacture, and sell. As a result, products derived from hemp plants are also now viewed as legal to produce, sell, purchase, and possess — and that includes CBD products that are derived from legal hemp plants.
Where is CBD oil sold?
Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp-derived CBD oil and other CBD products have exploded across the country. This is largely why you can now find CBD oil at numerous online CBD retailers, medical marijuana dispensaries, recreational marijuana dispensaries, CBD-specific retailers, health food stores, and more.
That said, if you live in a state or city that still has restrictive rules about CBD, you might not be able to find CBD being sold quite as broadly.
How to find CBD oil at nearby stores
Today, the best way to find CBD oil at stores near you is to turn to online search tools. You can always search for CBD oil retailers in regular search engines, but for more targeted searches, use apps like Weedmaps that are specific to cannabis and cannabis products. These search tools can produce better results, helping you quickly find a broader range of stores selling high-quality CBD oil and other CBD products.
Additionally, as you go about your day-to-day life, keep you eyes open for signs and ads for CBD. Many people are surprised to see just how many stores are now selling different types of CBD products. You might discover that your favorite cafe is now selling CBD-infused snacks or drinks. Just be sure to inquire about the source and quality of CBD being used in those products.
Buying CBD oil online
If you want to buy CBD online, be sure you take time to research the reputation of the online retailer from which you are buying. Read customer reviews. Research the descriptions of the CBD products the site is selling, and keep in mind that the highest-quality products are very open and transparent with their labeling. In particular, make sure the product does not contain more than 0.3% THC and that it was produced from legal hemp plants. See our tips below for what to check for when reading labels and descriptions of CBD oil or other products.
Finally, if you are buying CBD online, look into the privacy policies of the retailer. While the new laws introduced by the 2018 Farm Bill should protect your ability to buy CBD online and receive the product through the mail without any real legal problems, confusion about CBD laws still persists. For this reason, it's best to play it safe.
What to look for when buying CBD oil
When buying CBD oil or any other CBD product, it is crucial that you try to find the highest-quality product you can. With so many CBD products flooding the market, it can sometimes be tricky to find pure, effective CBD. Fortunately, the best CBD products are easy to find if you take the time to read their labels.
The 2018 Hemp Farming Bill shifted the oversight of hemp and hemp-derived products from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA currently does not allow CBD-infused food, drinks, or dietary supplements to be sold, and hasn't yet provided regulations for hemp-derived CBD products.
Despite this lack of clear regulations, the agency still requires companies producing CBD products to make legitimate claims on their labels. Buyers should nonetheless approach CBD products with caution. Most reputable CBD producers typically include the following information on their CBD product labels:
- Amount of active CBD per serving;
- Supplement Fact panel, including other ingredients;
- Net weight;
- Manufacturer or distributor name;
- Suggested use;
- Full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate;
- Batch or date code.
One of the most important things to pay attention to is whether a CBD product is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.
Full-spectrum means that the CBD has been extracted from a hemp plant along with all other cannabinoids and terpenes, including whatever trace amounts of THC the plant may have produced. Consuming full-spectrum CBD may yield better results thanks to the entourage effect, a phenomenon in which the mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce a more pleasant experience.
Broad-spectrum means that the product contains CBD and terpenes, but has undergone additional processes to strip out any THC.
CBD isolate is pure CBD, isolated from all other chemicals, cannabinoids, and terpenes. It is commonly sold in a powder or crystalline form. While CBD isolate might in some ways function as a more potent or concentrated form of CBD, it may be less effective than other types of CBD since the CBD in an isolate does not metabolize in your body alongside the other potentially important cannabinoids and terpenes.
Other CBD products you can buy
CBD oil is still one of the most popular forms of CBD. However, there are many other CBD products currently available, making it easy to find a product that suits your tastes and interests. Along with CBD oil, popular products on today's CBD market include but are not limited to:
- coffee, tea, and other beverages
- a huge range of edible goods
- concentrated tinctures
- smokable flower that contains almost exclusively CBD (only trace amounts of THC)
- vape pens
- isolate and concentrates
- topicals such as lotions, body oils, and hair products like shampoo
- personal lubricant
- creams for menstrual cramps
Where to find other CBD products
In general, CBD-specific retailers are the best places to buy these other types of CBD products. Because stores like this focus exclusively on CBD, they tend to have an especially broad range of CBD product offerings. Even better, these shops are staffed by CBD experts who are excellent resources to talk to about additional product information and to ask any questions you may have about CBD.
Dispensaries are a close second. Since dispensaries are dedicated to cannabis they will have numerous CBD products. But because most dispensaries also sell products with THC, they typically will not have as expansive a product line as a CBD-specific store. You should be able to find CBD products at both recreational and medical dispensaries, although as a general rule, you will probably find a wider selection at medical marijuana dispensaries, as they are geared more toward the therapeutic consumption of cannabis products.
To find these stores, you will be best served by turning to online searches, especially cannabis-specific search tools and apps such as Weedmaps.
Buying CBD at dispensaries vs. buying CBD at other retailers
Currently, there is no reason to automatically assume that CBD purchased at dispensaries will be better than CBD purchased elsewhere. You can generally expect to see dispensaries selling consistently high-quality products, but you can also find equally high-quality products at CBD-specific retailers and other retail locations as well. That's especially true of health stores and other shops or retailers targeting the health and wellness market.
No matter where you buy CBD oils or other products with CBD, the key is to do your research, primarily by reading the labels attached to any product you are thinking of buying. As outlined in our guide to reading labels above, reputable CBD companies will voluntarily label their products with lots of critical information, even though there are no clear legal requirements to do so. It's in the best interests of CBD manufacturers to be this transparent, as this helps establish them and their products as effective, high quality, and also in compliance with the 0.3% THC cutoff established under current federal rules.
So no matter where you buy CBD, take the time to ask questions of the company selling the product. And always take matters into your own hands by reading the labels and doing your own product research. If anything seems unclear or purposely vague, steer clear. There are so many options on the CBD market today that you should have no problem finding products with CBD that are clearly labeled and explicitly give you the potency and purity information you need to make a good purchase decision.