CBD is having a big moment right now, and it’s exciting news for the many growers, producers, and everyday users who understand the power and potential of the dynamic hemp plant. But while the industry is home to many quality-conscious providers, there will always be a fair amount of misinformation spread by unqualified companies looking to make a quick buck. For that reason, it’s important for CBD companies to put their credentials front-and-center so that consumers have the right info as they explore their options for using CBD. At The Happy Camper, we are rigorous in maintaining high standards, best industry practices, and strict measures for accountability. We also recognize our role as compassionate educators amid the growing CBD craze. Transparency is critical in our business. That’s why we go a step beyond the current industry requirements by publishing third-party Certificates of Analyses (COAs) prominently on our website for visitors to review and download. But the COA is just one important factor customers need to make an informed decision. This article will walk you through reading CBD labels and COAs, as well as other factors you can look for to decide if a specific product is right for you.
Step 1: Check the label of each CBD product.
Product labels certainly should never be taken at face value, but they’re an important first step as you begin to examine the wide and diverse range of CBD products in the marketplace. In many cases, the label is a CBD producer’s first shot at proving they are committed to transparency and furthering education. At minimum, the ingredient label should be clear and concise, ideally showcasing no more than a handful of natural ingredients that might include organic hemp oil extract and the plant’s original terpenes. Many CBD providers, including The Happy Camper, also include a carrier oil like MCT as well as other natural flavor additives. Beyond the ingredients breakdown, check to be sure the label provides nutritional information, serving size, and CBD milligram content per dosage (as well as for the entire unit).
Step 2: Visit the CBD company’s website.
As discussed, the CBD industry just like any other is home to more good people than bad. Unfortunately, some companies choose to spend their money on loud, flashy, sales-grabbing marketing. Conscientious CBD providers, on the other hand, prefer to invest in real, scientific-based research. They rely on that guidance to transparently detail their processes and organizational values in their website statements and FAQs. Most importantly, they maintain open lines of communication throughout their site, inviting curious potential customers to reach out for more information. Appropriate disclaimer information regarding testing and regulation should be plainly visible on the company’s website, in addition to providing an email address, physical address, phone number, or other means of reaching out for inquiry. The overarching goal should be to educate buyers and be available and help them make smart decisions for their health and the health of their loved ones.
Step 3: Locate and review each product’s COA.
The Certificate of Analysis contains critical information about how a CBD product was made and its resulting content. So, how does a non-scientific person make heads or tails of this information once they’ve located it? This snapshot helps break down the most common details you’ll find listed on a COA:
- Cannabinoids. Of these naturally occurring compounds, CBD gets the lion’s share of attention, but more than 80 have been identified, including CBN, CBG, and others. THC is another well-known cannabinoid, but in order to be sold legally in the United States, hemp source is allowed to contain no more than 0.3% THC when weighed dry.
- Microbial content. CBD products are tested to ensure they don’t contain unsafe amounts of salmonella, yeast, and mold. These microbes occur naturally in many plant-derived products, and each state maintains its own testing regulations and legal limit requirements. Click here for a comprehensive list of regulations by state.
- Residual solvents and heavy metals. Ingredients like lead, arsenic, and methyl mercury don’t show up on COAs, and for good reason—no ingestible products should contain these materials. But it’s important to note that hemp is a remediation plant, meaning it is known to absorb all present elements from the soil in which it’s grown. This requires a bit of extra legwork on part of the consumer. Only buy CBD products from providers who source their hemp from established, reputable U.S. farms that are subject to regular and extensive soil and water testing.
- Pesticides and herbicides. Most COAs list a simple pass/fail rating for pesticides, but it’s important to note that bulk hemp oil is typically tested for pesticides before production begins, so pesticide ratings may not be listed for each individual resulting product. But as long as the original source hemp has been given a “pass,” it’s safe to assume products listed later in the report contain safe levels.
Step 4: Get to know the communities where CBD products are made.
We touched on this briefly, but it’s very important for consumers to understand that hemp is a remediation crop, which means it has the power to absorb everything it touches. That’s great when it comes to things like phytonutrient-rich, organic soil and plant food. It’s not so great when you consider the harmful pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides that some producers use in their cultivation processes. Additionally, heavy metals can exist in the soil surrounding even the most trustworthy grower’s crops—and those elements will almost certainly end up in the CBD oils derived from those plants. When people in our industry are doing it right, they team up to share that momentum. Our hardworking team at The Happy Camper belongs to a vast and diverse community of multi-generational Colorado hemp farmers, processors, extractors, and sellers. We love our business, and we love supporting the people in this space who go above and beyond to ensure quality and safety for our customers, from seed to sale. As you browse the wide-ranging CBD marketplace, take a close look at the communities where each product comes from. Where do they source their hemp? Where are their farms located? Do they belong to leading accrediting organizations? Is their hemp certified organic? Do they use chemical pesticides, herbicides, or GMOs? What regular verification and regulation monitoring are they subject to?
Step 5: When in doubt, trust your instincts.
You’ve been a consumer of food and other products long enough to know that when something doesn’t feel right, it usually isn’t. If you’re considering buying CBD from a company that doesn’t go the extra mile in their communication and transparency, there’s usually a reason for that. It’s not always easy to differentiate and make these distinctions when you’re looking at an online ad or a label in the grocery store. That’s why it’s important to investigate the angles outlined here. But in addition, remember that you are your own best care provider. As you explore all your options for implementing CBD into your wellness routine, the most important thing you can do is trust your gut and go with the provider who makes you feel the most valued, informed, and confident in your decision making.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.