Is hemp cannabidiol (CBD) oil the new snake oil? Definitely not! Yet by the way some websites are marketing it I‘m left to wonder.
The cannabis industry and others call the unrestrained and exuberant marketing of legal marijuana the “Green Rush” as excitement (and sometimes greed) can often supersede the consideration of including information vital to purchasers.
Recently when I read an online advertisement for one hemp CBD product, I was incredulous at seeing a blatant factual error staring me right in the face. It began by saying that there was no THC in their hemp-isolate product, and then went on to say in another paragraph that their CBD was full spectrum.
The problem with this is that a hemp CBD isolate and a full-spectrum-hemp CBD are two different types of CBD. You can’t have it both ways. Either it’s a CBD isolate (stripped of the other cannabinoids leaving only CBD) or it’s a full spectrum, whole plant product which means the CBD includes small amounts of other cannabinoids, including trace amounts of THC.
Frankly, it’s offensive and embarrassing to the rest of us who are working to pull cannabis out of the dark ages of social stigma with accurate information and a level-headed approach.
That said, another friend shared his experience with me about going to a health food store looking for CBD and how confusing it was for him. He could not figure out what features he should be looking for to get what he needed.
I literally spent days researching different hemp CBD oils to find a product that checked all my boxes, one that I would feel great about recommending to my clients.
Here’s what I wanted to know:
Where was the hemp grown? A lot of hemp comes from China and from Europe. I prefer domestically-grown hemp. There is no USDA certification for hemp but many growers spell out their growing practices and including if it is non-GMO grown, which is important to me. Many companies don’t reveal this information. Next!
What was extraction process used? Most popular right now is what is called CO2 extraction, which is safe and works well to extract the oil from the plant. However, one of the drawbacks of CO2 is that it strips out some of the other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes in the process. I prefer the ethanol extraction method because it leaves more of these in a product. 
Was the CBD oil 3rd-party tested in a lab and for what? The hemp variety of cannabis is known as a bio-accumulator that sucks up toxins from the soil. This is good for the soil but bad for consumer. For example, the heavy metal, cadmium, which is a pollutant to the soil, has been shown to be all but eliminated by growing hemp . However cadmium, and other heavy metals, is not something we want in our bodies.
The fact of bio-accumulation and the hemp plant makes it critically important for the purchaser of CBD to know, without a doubt, that the oil has been 3rd party test and for what. Some sellers online will tell you what lab they used and even have a PDF of documentation for individual batches produced. Many do not. Next!
Is it an isolate or a full-spectrum product? As I mentioned above there are both isolate and full- spectrum-hemp CBD products. They each have their place for health. Isolates are for more intense, targeted high dosage to remedy a particular health issue and full spectrum, using the whole plant, is more for the overall experience of wellness and has been proven to be highly effective for many health issues, also known as the entourage effect. 
What is the price point? The price range depends on how much is in a bottle, the quality of the product, and the company. Prices can range from $12 to over $100 for similar amounts. I first look for the features I have listed here, above, and then compare prices within that range.
Is the company only in it for the money? I also evaluate what I consider to be the ethics of the company from the way they share information on their website. Are they just out to make a buck or are they truly interested in helping people? This is long-term important to me because I believe it reflects on a company’s commitment to quality or not.
I hope this helps. Do not get taken-in by the Green Rush!
Excellent breakdown of what one needs to know in order to get the best that CBD has to offer. Nevertheless, ‘desparate for relief’ consumers are often manipulated by the types of snake oil sales tactics that do exist in any new market that has seemingly miraculous benefits. Thanks so much for encouraging consumers to follow the most important guideline that applies to all cannabis products: educate before you medicate!
Thanks for mentioning, Nancy, that guidelines apply to ALL cannabis products, not just CBD. Buyer beware.