What to Look for When Buying CBD Oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) was still considered an illicit substance until the 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp, and therefore, hemp-derived CBD legal for production across the country. Salons, spas, online retailers, health stores, and even major pharmacies are filling their shelves with an ever-growing variety of CBD oils and formulas. 

The CBD market is growing rapidly and doesn’t seem to show any sign of stopping. Unfortunately, until regulations for testing and labeling are in place, the CBD market is still buyer beware. Further, CBD is considered a dietary supplement that falls outside of the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for safety, purity, or optimal dosage. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to trust your CBD products, especially when you take the necessary precautions and know what to look for. Here’s a quick beginner’s guide to buying CBD oil — factors to consider beforehand, terms to know, and how to read a CBD oil label.

Things to Consider

The term “CBD oil” is used to describe several formulas and products that are either concentrated or infused with CBD, the second-most prominent cannabinoid of the cannabis plant, with non-intoxicating therapeutic properties. Most commonly, CBD oil will refer to oil containing pure CBD and no other cannabis compounds. CBD hemp oil is extracted from hemp, which is legally defined as containing less than 0.3% THC. Full-spectrum or whole-plant CBD oil includes more than CBD, such as cannabis-derived terpenes as well as trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum contains a similar spectrum of cannabinoids but without any THC. 

CBD oil may contain trace amounts of THC, but it’s highly unlikely to produce any noticeable effect or show up on a drug test. 

Is CBD Oil Legal?

Before you buy any CBD oil, you may be wondering whether it’s legal in your state. Only CBD oil that conforms to the 2018 Farm Bill regulations is considered federally legal. Consult your state’s local cannabis laws and regulations to find out if CBD products are safe to buy in your state. 

How Much Does CBD Oil Cost?

CBD is expensive in the current market. A 1-ounce, or 30-milliliter, bottle of CBD oil can cost between $30 and $200. While it’s difficult to say what’s a fair price for consumers to pay for CBD, a lab-tested product typically costs $50 to $60 per 1,000 milligrams.  

What to Know About CBD Oil Labeling

Until federal agencies determine final and enforceable regulations, the potential for mislabeled and poor-quality products is high. Knowing what to watch out for on a CBD oil label can go a long way in helping the consumer stick to high-quality CBD oil and other related products. 

Beware of Big Claims, Especially in Treating Diseases and Conditions

CBD oil labels should not make any medical claims —  legally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) monitors and regulates claims of medical efficacy, backed with clinical trials. The FDA has sent warning letters to several companies that sold CBD products labeled with claims to prevent, treat, and cure serious diseases. Yet plenty of companies voluntarily follow FDA label standards and prohibit unverified claims on their labels. Words such as “cure,” “prevent,” “reduce,” and “treat” can be red flags in the absence of the FDA verifying the claims through scientific research. 

Words Matter, Especially Buzzwords

Some CBD oil labels are fraught with marketing terms and buzzwords that often appear to signify authoritative medicinal value. Terms such as “organic,” “all-natural,” and even “pure” have no scientific meaning, and shouldn’t be considered a sign of a trustworthy CBD oil. Products claiming to contain hemp or hemp seed oil aren’t the same as hemp-derived CBD oil, and won’t necessarily contain any CBD. Cannabis-derived CBD oil is derived from Cannabis sativa plants that contain THC above 0.3%. 

Read the Label for Purity Levels

If an isolate is 99.9% CBD or more, it’s highly unlikely that it will have trace amounts of THC. Purity ranges of 99.5% or lower may still have trace levels of THC. Avoiding trace amounts of THC may be due to personal preference, or as a precaution against failing a drug test. However, a 2015 study has shown that CBD oil with low THC may be more effective in treating inflammation than a CBD isolate.  

Other Key Indicators of Quality CBD Oil

Most reputable CBD oils include the following information on their labels:

  • Amount of CBD as an  active ingredient 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


Feature image: Be an informed buyer of the cannabinoid CBD, especially since its popularity outpaces government attempts to regulate its sale and labeling. (Photo by Gina Coleman/Weedmaps News)