What is the Best CBD Oil on the Market? Check the Label
Last month we talked about how the flood of CBD oil into the market – they’re even being peddled at petrol stations – has created concerns about fake products. It’s not just about getting swindled with snake oil. In 2017, for example, more than 50 people got sick after ingesting synthetic CBD that was being passed off as the real thing. At the very least, quality can vary greatly. And there’s the issue of CBD suddenly appearing in all sorts of foods or formulations with other ancient herbs like ashwagandha. With all the selections on the market, most people just want to cut through the BS and know what is the best CBD oil on the market.
Check the Label to Find the Best CBD Oil
You’ll recall that CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the more than 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids found in both hemp and marijuana. All of the companies in this list derive their CBD from hemp. The big takeaway is that CBD won’t get you high like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a CBD-based drug for treating a rare form of epilepsy, so there appear to be some real therapeutic benefits to CBD. The problem is determining which products are safe and effective to use amid the dozens of brands that are popping up in your friendly neighborhood vape shop. A new trade organization called the U.S. Hemp Authority has come to the rescue by publishing certification standards for both producers and growers.
So far, 12 companies have met the criteria laid out in a 43-page Guidance Plan that covers things like good manufacturing practices (GMPs), contamination testing, and potency quantification. We’ve profiled two of these companies, Charlotte’s Web and Elixinol, extensively already, but don’t know much about the other 10. Let’s take a look now.
Hemp is the New Tobacco in Kentucky
While known for its tobacco industry, Kentucky is emerging as one of the top hemp growing regions in the United States, so it’s no surprise that two of the companies certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority are based in the Bluegrass State.
Founded in 2014, GenCanna in Winchester raised $30 million in a single round last year. The company operates the Hemp Research Campus on about 150 acres, symbolically occupying land that had once been owned by a tobacco firm. The company applies its own high standards to growing and processing hemp, making it only one of two companies on the list to receive certification in both categories. Through its GenCann Production Platform it employs techniques to reduce water and energy use, while maximizing soil health. The startup has also developed a proprietary drying technology it calls Big Blue that eliminates post-harvest mold and other pathogens. Big Blue dries and vacuum seals freshly harvested hemp in about three minutes to lock in that hemp goodness. In December, the company announced it would invest $40 million on its fourth hemp facility in Kentucky.
Nature’s Hemp Oil out of Lexington is a family-run operation that grows its hemp without pesticides to produce a full spectrum hemp derived CBD. All of their products are made with cold pressed hemp seed oil and the full spectrum extract. None of their products are isolates or made with oils such as MCT (typically palm oil). In addition to CBD oils for humans, they also make a tincture for our furry friends.
While listed as a California company, Medterra sources its hemp from Kentucky. Like many companies on this list, it uses carbon dioxide in a liquid state to extract CBD from the plant material without using chemicals. Its pure CBD extract uses a process that removes fats and lipids, producing a highly concentrated oil. The stuff doesn’t come cheap: A one-ounce bottle containing an astounding 3,000 mg of CBD costs $109.50.
OTC Stocks for CBD
Regular readers know our disdain and distrust of over-the-counter stocks, something we’ve warned you about for years. That’s our intro to CV Sciences (OTCMKTS:CVSI), which calls itself as a life sciences company with a pharmaceuticals division in addition to its CO2-extracted CBD consumer product. The company was reportedly the first to attain what’s called Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status from the FDA for its Plus CBD Oil Gold Formula products, which are available in more than 3,300 retail stores. That means it can be used in food and drinks (though the regulations around all that are still as hazy as a 420 rally in Boulder).
On the pharmaceutical side, CV Sciences is developing a chewing gum containing nicotine and synthetic CBD to help people quit smoking before Kentucky completely stops growing tobacco. Incredibly, it posted $10 million in revenues at the end of 2018 after reporting a loss of nearly $5 million the previous year, though CV Sciences has been dogged by some degree of drama.
Another OTC cannabis company on the list is Medical Marijuana Inc. (MJNA) through its three subsidiaries – Kannaway, HempMeds, and Dixie Botanicals. Acquired by Medical Marijuana in 2015 for $243 million, Kannaway says it sources its hemp oil from sustainably grown hemp in northern Europe. Kannaway distributes its products through
an Amway pyramid scheme a network of brand ambassadors. As we noted in our article on legal weed in Mexico, HempMeds gives Medical Marijuana Inc. access to the south-of-the-border market. Dixie Botanicals is a CBD product line that Medical Marijuana acquired in a legal dispute with Dixie Holdings. The latter is now known as Dixie Elixirs (with the same exact logo as Dixie Botanicals, if you weren’t confused enough) and is one of the many, many companies flooding the Canadian Securities Exchange.
Testing, Testing, Testing
Balanced Health Botanicals is the hippy dippy umbrella name for a Denver area company that was founded in 2015 under the name ELS Universal before renaming itself CBDistillery in 2016. Its other brand name includes Bota Hemp. Whatever you want to call it, the company has apparently had some success, with $41 million in revenues last year and projections to double that in 2019. Balanced Health Botanicals is the only other company on the list to achieve both grower and producer certifications. It even offers product test results online, testing each product at three separate labs to ensure quality, according to a local news report.
Founded in 2012, Bluebird Botanicals is another Colorado company that emphasizes quality control regarding its line of CBD oils, vape oils, capsules, and pet products. Both of its manufacturing facilities are registered with the FDA and follow the agency’s current GMP guidelines. Just last year, Bluebird Botanicals passed a third-party GMP audit with a 99% rating against a passing score of 70%. Reading through the company’s extensive blog post about its quality control standards, it’s obvious that it’s positioning itself within the dietary supplements world. The FDA had said CBD can’t be sold as a supplement, but appeared to recently admit defeat and has retreated to discrete enforcement while it works on a real set of rules, which is expected to take a couple of years to work through the rusty wheels of bureaucracy.
Another company with a test and test again philosophy that’s also positioning itself in the supplements space is HempFusion, a consumer-facing brand under MetaCan out of California. It triple tests every batch of its Whole Food Hemp Complex formulations through third-party laboratories. It also has a fancy name for its oil-based delivery system using non-GMO sunflower oil called Phospholivery. Its products are available at retail stores, online, and at Amazon.
A Supplements Company Adopts CBD
Speaking of the dietary supplements industry: A Washington state company called Barlean’s, which is known for its flaxseed oil, added a CBD oil to its product line of more than 70 supplements last year. Its Extra Strength Ideal CBD Hemp Oil line includes a certified USDA organic version ($20 more than the standard bottle), along with a softgel option containing 15mg of CBD per capsule. It also hits the other trendy labels, like being non-GMO, vegan, and gluten-free.
A Shot of CBD in Your Espresso
HempWorx is a Las Vegas company that has taken its CBD line way beyond hemp-based oil. Its products include hemp-infused coffee with 5mg of CBD in each cup of joe and even CBD Keto coffee creamers, whatever that means. It also gets into Goop territory with products like an anti-aging cream and a skin cream containing collagen, both with 50mg of CBD. And not to leave out Fido: 2.5mg dog treats and a 250mg bacon-flavored hemp oil. It’s Vegas.
Some analysts have suggested that the CBD market could surpass the medical and recreational marijuana market in size. The companies on this list are obviously well aware of the potential payoff in establishing themselves as leaders in quality by adopting the Hemp Authority certification, notwithstanding the bacon-flavored hemp oil.
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