Billboard that says CBDIt's in the gas stations. It's in the grocery stores. The drug stores. It has its own stores. It has countless websites. It's CBD, and it's everywhere. 

Of course, there's good reason for that: CBD is insanely popular. According to one estimate, the CBD industry is set to more than double every year for the next two years. Other estimates note that 1 in 3 American adults have tried CBD. These are explosively high numbers that truly demonstrate CBD's incredible popularity.

This burst of popularity has led to some huge benefits for CBD customers: There has been incredible innovation in the field, and the rise of competition is also driving down prices. As a result, it seems as if every day brings a new CBD product or method of consumption.

On the other hand, it is now way, way too easy for customers to get ripped off by unscrupulous vendors who only care about their bottom line, and not the well-being of their customers.

One horrifying 2017 study from the University of Pennsylvania perfectly illuminates this. The study tested 84 CBD products and found that nearly 70% of the products were inaccurately labeled.

Even more frightening is that consumer protections from the United States Food & Drug Administration have failed to catch up to the explosion of CBD growth, and unscrupulous vendors can still easily rip off well-intended consumers.

That's not to say that every CBD vendor is dishonest. Thankfully, most are good and want to make sure you get the right product. However, as an informed consumer, you have to be on your guard. This guide will show you how to properly buy CBD and protect yourself. 

Woman shopping for CBD with multiple bagsHow To Buy CBD

Buying CBD shouldn't just be a matter of picking up the first CBD product that you see with a pretty label and making a purchase. Indeed, CBD is not a product you should just buy on a whim - you have to do your research before buying it.

Why is this the case? Well, unlike most other food, drinks, and supplements, CBD is not heavily regulated. As of October 1, 2020, the Food & Drug Administration had still failed to issue stringent requirements on labeling and inspections of CBD.

Some states had picked up the slack, but this is hit or miss, to say the least. As a result, the market is still largely a free-for-all, and the only thing the FDA is enforcing is that companies cannot make medical claims about their product.

Another issue: Amazon. Amazon does not allow for CBD products to be sold on the website. However, as the linked article notes, that doesn't mean that the company perfectly enforces this ban.

A search on Amazon for CBD reveals an array of products, but again, these products are misnomers. All of the sponsored products are "Hemp Oil" or "Hemp Gummies." To be clear: This is not the same thing as CBD.

What you have here are companies trying to take advantage of consumer ignorance. Hemp Oil and CBD Oil are not the same product. Hemp oil is likely cold-pressed hemp seeds, while CBD oil is extracted from hemp and cannabis plants.

This is a great example of an unfortunate truth: Less reputable sellers will do whatever they can to separate you from your money.

There is certainly nothing wrong with buying hemp oil - indeed, it may have many nutritional benefits - but that's not the same thing as CBD oil. Many other websites may make the same dishonest marketing substitutions.

So, how can you buy CBD? Thankfully, there are real answers to this question: You have to do your research and fully understand what you are getting into.

  • Only purchase from websites or stores that clearly list their ingredients and provide third-party verification for what you are attempting to purchase.
  • Make sure that any online vendor you use has numerous reviews of both the product and the website itself, and make sure to search the internet for reviews of that website.
  • Don't buy from any website that makes direct medical claims about CBD's effectiveness, as that is illegal and unsupported by science.

There is a big difference between a website that accurately summarizes the positive research that has been conducted about CBD and one which specifically makes dramatic and definitive claims, such as "CBD will remove your pain" or "CBD can unquestionably reduce skin redness!"

CBD products from online cbd store edens herbalsWhere To Get CBD Near Me

CBD is available virtually everywhere these days. This includes grocery stores, major drug store chains, virtually anywhere on the internet, and many gas stations or rest stops. 

However, just because you can get CBD anywhere doesn't mean that you should get CBD anywhere. Keep in mind that there are very few jurisdictions in the country that requires any sort of special license or certification before CBD is actually sold. This presents a huge challenge for a compound that can potentially cause harm if it interacts with certain medications

Generally speaking, you can buy CBD from two categories of stores: brick and mortar or you can buy CBD online. A brick and mortar store is any physical location. However, there are multiple things you should keep in mind.

CBD needs to be treated by all parties involved as a serious compound, one that may be capable of helping you in many ways. However, given its components and newness, you should only purchase from a CBD store that has significant expertise to answer questions. This may include grocery stores, drug stores, or specialty stores.

In many cases, specialty stores come with the added benefit of having staff on-site that will be knowledgeable about CBD or able to answer questions and make recommendations. Make sure to do your own research about any potential CBD purchase that you make. Furthermore, understand that the expertise these stores can provide may come at a higher price.

There are also countless websites from which you can purchase various types of CBD. These websites are legal at the federal level and in virtually every state, so there are no legal issues for you to worry about.

Purchasing off a website comes with many benefits, including the ability to compare prices and conduct research about others' experience with both the website and the CBD product you are considering purchasing.

Mini shopping cart full of hemp plantsWhat To Look For with CBD

If you are purchasing in person or online, there are a few things you should be looking for. These include:

  • Certificate of Analysis: This is a third-party test done by an outside company that confirms the veracity of the CBD's labeling. It will allow you, a potential customer, to inspect the CBD's ingredients and confirm what is actually in the product.
  • Relevant expertise: Someone at the location - be it in person or a website - should be able to answer your questions. If no one has the relevant knowledge, or they don't respond to Emails, move on.
  • Reviews: If you are purchasing online, you should be able to read customer reviews of a product. Take these with a grain of salt, as it is way, way too easy for a company to fake reviews. However, if they are honest, and some people actually express concerns with the product, you can probably take them more seriously.
  • Transparency of manufacturing: Any CBD vendor should make it easy for you to learn where the CBD was manufactured, where their hemp was grown, and what methods went into the CBD processing. In all fairness, this information may be harder to gather with a brick and mortar store, but you should be able to find it with a little bit of research. Again, if you can't easily find it, that implies that the company has something to hide about how they process and manufacture their CBD, or isn't as dedicated to transparency as they should be. 
  • Customer Service: As noted above, CBD is a serious supplement, and it needs to be treated as such. Before purchasing from any store or website, conduct your own research and confirm that the place you are looking to purchase from is reputable, answers questions, and ships quickly. If there are any red flags, avoid that vendor.
  • Competitive Pricing: CBD is often not cheap, and that's for good reason, as many steps go into making the product. However, thanks to the internet, you should be able to research if you can get the product cheaper elsewhere. Keep in mind that price isn't everything, and make sure to search for additional information on whether or not a CBD website has a good reputation. 
  • Variety of products: This isn't strictly necessary, but a company selling a variety of products is a good thing. It gives you additional options as a customer, and it implies that a company has a visible level of expertise in the CBD world. Look for companies that offer full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, and isolate CBD.

Shoppers carrying bags full of CBD productsIs CBD Legal?

Yes. CBD is legal in the United States and in many places throughout the world. Whether or not a product contains THC can potentially impact its legality, but fear not: You should be able to purchase CBD from any trustworthy CBD vendor and do so without any legal risk.

Prior to 2018, CBD existed in a mushy legal area. Many states legalized the product - or at least allowed it to be sold without prosecution - despite the fact that many CBD products contained THC. In the eyes of the federal government, this made the product similar to marijuana. 

That changed with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed CBD from the list of banned Schedule One drugs. As such, CBD was essentially legalized at the federal level.

This was important for many reasons. Chief among them: Individuals who purchased, processed, or manufactured CBD from hemp plants could no longer be prosecuted for drug possession. However, from a business perspective, this opened huge doors.

As a result of the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD businesses could have access to critical business systems, including banking, financing, insurance, marketing, and transportation - something that federal restrictions had previously disallowed. 

Of course, this did not mean that any CBD, anywhere, could be legally sold. Many restrictions remained, chief among them being the impact of THC on CBD. THC is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is arguably the most well-known cannabinoid in the world, as its presence in marijuana is responsible for marijuana's intoxicating impacts.

The 2018 Farm Bill dictated that CBD could be manufactured - however, it could contain no more than .3% THC. This level is far, far below what is commonly found in marijuana, and thus not capable of getting anyone "high." CBD found with more than this level of THC cannot be sold. 

States could establish their own plans for CBD and hemp growth and processing. These plans had to be submitted to the United States Department of Agriculture for formal approval and had to contain multiple safeguards against the hemp potentially being used for marijuana.

Additionally, the United States Food & Drug Administration - which is responsible for the regulation of food, drinks & medicine in the United States - is still developing regulations for CBD.

Temporary regulations have been established, but these largely deal with how CBD can be marketed. For example, the FDA has cited numerous companies for violating their restrictions against marketing CBD as being able to make definitive medical claims.

It is also worth noting that different states have the ability to establish their own CBD regulations, and many have done so. Some states require company's that sell CBD to obtain licenses to do so, but most do not.

Fortunately for consumers, there is only one state where the sale of CBD is explicitly banned: Idaho, which does not allow for the sale of CBD products with any amount of THC.

Keep in mind: While you can buy CBD with THC, that doesn't mean it is completely risk-free. Though unlikely, it is possible to test positive on a drug test as a result of CBD use. It is unlikely, but not impossible, depending on a variety of circumstances, including your history with cannabis-products and the sensitivity of the drug test in question. 

Sign that says CBD storeConclusion

There is no question that the purchase and sale of CBD require consumers to pay attention to trends and only purchase products that adhere to the strictest quality control standards. Sadly, as with any new industry, there are sellers out there that only want to make money. Thankfully, there is also good news: A wide array of vendors exist that want to sell you good, high-quality CBD. As an informed consumer, you have to make sure you are paying attention to the difference.