What to Look for When Buying CBD

The CBD industry isn’t regulated federally. Some states do have laws in place regarding products of the hemp plant, but for the most part, it’s a buyer beware type of situation. Arizona doesn’t require testing yet, so unless a brand is actually providing purity and potency test results; you really have no idea what you’re buying.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand what to look for and where not to buy CBD products.


Does the brand have a website? If you can’t research a CBD brand online, it’s ideal to steer clear. When there is no information to be had about them or their products, there are too many questions left up in the air.

Third-Party Lab Results

If a CBD brand does not have third-party lab results available, steer clear. Third-party lab testing ensures that what you are buying is clean, pure and safe. It also validates what’s in your CBD.

What you’ll see on CoA (Certificate of Analysis):

  • CBD concentration
  • THC concentration
  • Concentrations of accompanying cannabinoids (CBG, CBN, etc.)
  • Terpene presence
  • Microbial test levels
  • Heavy metal presence
  • Residual solvent presence
  • Any contaminant (herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals)

On these lab results, you will want to look for the action level for heavy metals, chemicals, mold, microbes and other residual chemicals. Then, review the amount actually detected – if any. If any of these items are present, they should all be under the action level or should be listed as >LOQ. This means less than the level or limit of quantification. A limit or level of quantification is the smallest amount of a compound or chemical that a lab can or is required to test for.

Ensure that the lab has a license from the state the lab shows to operate in. The lab should also have its address, phone number and website information on the report. The date the sample was received should be clearly listed. The sample type should be listed. When the sample was tested should be listed.

The results should also have a live signature certifying the results and it should be dated.


Always read the ingredients in the CBD product. Terpenes, if they are included, may seem like chemicals due to their names. The ingredients in a CBD product should be naturally-derived. If you are unsure of any ingredient, always take the extra couple of minutes to look it up.

Common terpenes include:

  • Alpha pinene
  • Beta-caryophyllene
  • Humulene
  • Linalool
  • Limonene
  • Myrcene
  • Nerolidol
  • Terpineol
  • Guaiol

Terpenes are found in thousands of plants and trees – including cannabis and hemp plants.

Also pay attention to the type of flavoring used for a CBD product. Make sure it is natural. If a flavor extract is listed, inquire about what type of extract it is. You’ll want to look for non-alcohol extracted or steam-distilled flavorings. These do not contain alcohol or other chemicals. The flavor is milder so it doesn’t take over your entire palate.

What type of carrier oil is used? A carrier oil is the base oil that is used to suspend the CBD in. The most common carrier oils in CBD products are MCT oil, coconut oil and hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil will often be combined with another carrier oil because it is expensive. Olive oil is gaining popularity as a carrier oil too. Sometimes you will see vegetable glycerin listed – while it’s considered “generally safe” it’s really not the best thing for your body, so you might want to choose a CBD product that does not contain vegetable glycerin.

Grapeseed, walnut or flaxseed oils may also be listed within the ingredients. These are also good carrier oils but again, are likely to be combined with another.

Active Cannabinoids

What is the manufacturer saying is the amount of active cannabinoids in the product? This will be represented on the label. Unless you see an exact amount like 400 mg, 500 mg, 750 mg or something of the sort, you might want to leave that product at the store.

Anytime you see something like 1,000 mg @20% — that means you’re really only getting 800 mg of CBD. There is plant material or another compound diluting the concentration of CBD in the product – so this is less than high-quality.

Type of CBD Used

There are three main categories of CBD – full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate. Full spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally present cannabinoids and terpenes that were in the hemp plant originally. Broad spectrum often starts as full spectrum but undergoes additional refinement to reduce the THC concentration but can also be made using isolate. Broad spectrum from isolate cannot achieve the entourage effect as THC is missing.

CBD isolate might work for some, but is just a single cannabinoid. The entourage effect is not possible. Isolate is inferior to broad spectrum and full spectrum. However, those that must avoid THC at all costs must use CBD isolate. CBD cannot turn up as THC on a drug screening and vice versa.

Companies Making Guarantees and Claims

It is absolutely not legal for any CBD company to make any type of claim or guarantee except for GW Pharmaceuticals (the makers of Epidiolex). They cannot say anything like “taking this product will cure your pain”, “your anxiety will reduce” or anything along those lines. They also cannot guarantee that you will pass a drug test. There are broader cannabinoid drug screenings available now as some companies still don’t understand that CBD is non-intoxicating.

Where Not to Buy CBD Products From

There are several places that you should not buy CBD products from. Kiosks inside malls are one of them. Unless it’s a brand you’ve heard of and have seen their website, it’s best to keep walking. Most of the kiosk locations for CBD products do not provide lab test results, so you have no idea what you’re buying.

Only buy CBD products from vape shops and head shops if you can find information about the brand online and they have lab results available. Read the labels carefully.

Do not buy CBD products from Groupon or Amazon. Amazon does not have a clear understanding of what CBD is. You will see products listed as hemp oil on Amazon but most are in ridiculous amounts such as 10,000 mg or 35,000 mg. This is just unrealistic. There are also many CBD companies making claims on Amazon. You will also notice that Amazon will say that there are no CBD products for sale on their platform – but again, they don’t know that hemp oil IS CBD oil. Hemp seed oil is what doesn’t contain cannabinoids. Hemp seed oil is not measured in milligrams; it’s measured as any other cooking oil is.

Groupon doesn’t vet the companies offering CBD products. You have no idea what you’re buying.

Do not fall victim to free trials – making CBD products costs money – no company is going to give you something for free if you just pay the shipping if their product is worth it. Making CBD products is not cheap – especially if the brand is making high-quality CBD products.

Closing Thoughts

It’d be great if we could buy CBD products and be confident that what we’re purchasing is what the company says it is, but unfortunately – that just isn’t the case. Not all CBD companies have consumers in mind; some just want to make a quick buck. Not all CBD products are created equal.

If you have questions about a CBD product that you’ve purchased, please feel free to reach out. We will help you research the brand and the product to help you determine if it is what the label says it is and if it’s safe to use.



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