It seems like everywhere I go, CBD is being added into something new. Just the other day a couple of my coworkers were joking about a new designer CBD-infused bottled water they saw advertised, and I’ve even heard some stories about bags of CBD coffee being sold.

So what is CBD anyway? CBD is short for cannabidiol and just like THC (and several others), it’s a cannabinoid that’s found in weed. Unlike THC, though, it doesn’t have the same “psychoactive” effect, which is to say it won’t get you high, but still is said to provide a myriad of health benefits. Tragically, with cannabis being federally illegal there is a limited amount of reliable information on the subject in the terms of actual scientific study rather than advertising. In the wake of all of this I want to encourage the reader to do their own research and come to their own conclusions, but I will take a moment to touch on some things I found interesting while browsing the topic.

Pitfalls of Processing CBD

To start, CBD can be extracted from either cannabis or its low THC relative, hemp. This is what allows hemp-derived CBD products to be sold and distributed nationwide, independent of the state-level legality of cannabis. However, with that comes a laundry list of other complications.

One concern that I’ve heard repeatedly shared is the origins of the hemp that the CBD is extracted from. Hemp can be used for a process called phytoremediation where the plant’s roots detoxify soil. With that comes the potential for those toxins to be extracted from the hemp and magnified alongside the CBD. Another worry is whether or not harmful pesticides were used to treat the plants, since formal testing isn’t required by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) while the CBD products are classified as a “dietary supplement”.

Speaking of the FDA, one of the most shocking things I came across was actually on their website. In ’15, ’16, and ’17, the FDA sent out warning letters to companies that claim to have hemp derived CBD in them. In the FDA’s own words:

“Over the past several years, FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain cannabidiol (CBD). As part of these actions, FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain. It is important to note that these products are not approved by FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease. Consumers should beware purchasing and using any such products.” 

FDA Website 

So, from there it seems that some products don’t even have any CBD in them, hemp or otherwise. In my opinion, that by itself is enough to make me a touch suspicious of anything CBD-infused that isn’t tested by an independent lab.

Shop Smart When Buying CBD

All these concerns aside, however, I use CBD products literally every day for my own personal wellness regimen, and I thoroughly believe that CBD has improved my overall quality of life. I prefer to buy my CBD products from licensed dispensaries since I know it was tested for potency, pesticides, molds, etc. I’ve also seen what seems to be some really high quality and affordable CBD isolates at headshops, gas stations, and I’ve even heard of some great CBD dabs being peddled by shirtless dudes at concerts. So don’t take my word on it. As with most things in life, the only way to know is to try it for yours.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.