The demand for CBD increases every year in the UK as estimates show the amount of CBD products sold doubled from 2017 to 2018 and again from 2018 to 2019. This increased demand is being met by the market being saturated with products from companies looking to cash-in on the boom.
Consequently, we are seeing lots of reputable companies with ethical policies and a commitment to creating honest products being lost amongst a wide range of companies just looking to make a quick bit of cash. A number of initial studies have shown that 70% of CBD products are mislabelled in some way. So, how do you know who to trust?
In this guide, we will highlight how you can spot a reputable company in order to ensure the CBD product you buy is legitimate.
Online Purchasing of CBD Oil in the UK
Buying goods online has become common practice amongst people of all demographics from around the world and CBD products are no different. In fact, it is estimated that online sales of CBD products make-up approximately 60% of overall CBD sales.
Weighing up the differences between purchasing CBD online and CBD in-store and then understanding what to look for in a product will help you on your way to purchasing a reputable product.
The advantages and disadvantages of purchasing CBD online mirror buying any product online, including: -
- Better prices and availability;
- Increased privacy;
- More convenient - reduced shopping time.
Purchasing CBD products online can also have their disadvantages:-
- No physical inspection of product;
- Have to wait for shipping, returning and refunds;
- No immediate personal interaction.
For many people, the benefits of price, availability and convenience outweigh the negatives, causing consumers to forgo the lack of physical inspection and the longer shipping times to place their online order.
Buying CBD Oil From the High Street in the UK
Although the majority of people will purchase their CBD products online in the UK, approximately 40% of people still purchase their CBD in store which is still a significant portion of the population to consider.
Buying CBD from the high street has its own advantages, as follows:-
- You can immediately inspect the product;
- You can talk to staff in the store and receive an instant response;
- You can leave with your product immediately
Some of the disadvantages of buying CBD in store are: -
- Products are generally more expensive;
- Can be more long-winded - travel times, cueing, parking etc…;
- Stock can be limited compared to online purchases;
- Only set opening hours;
In addition, it may be difficult to find a place that sells CBD and then discover a member of staff who is well versed in the products they are selling. Generally, you will be able to find stores online easier that specifically sell CBD, with members of staff who can answer every query you have from their own knowledge.
What Should You Consider When Buying CBD?
Hopefully you have decided whether you want to purchase CBD online or in-store. Now you need to look for the key pointers that describe the product quality. Certain key pointers that you should be aware of are: -
The amount of CBD in a product
To some this might be fairly simple, but each CBD product should be clearly labelled with the amount of CBD it has in it by weight of CBD. This figure should be quoted in milligrams (mg) or grams (g) somewhere on the product.
Choosing a product with high bioavailability
Bioavailability is the % amount of CBD which enters your bloodstream and is determined by the method in which you are consuming CBD. Some methods are more effective than others at administering CBD into your body, others can be considered a waste. Some bioavailabilities for common consumption methods are:-
- Oil under the tongue - 60-80%
- Vaping and smoking - 70-90%
- Edibles - 5-20%
- Capsules - 20-30%
A CBD edible would have to contain at least 5x the amount of CBD as CBD oil taken under the tongue to administer the same amount of CBD into your bloodstream.
CBD has to be extracted from the cannabis plant before being put into a product. There are several different ways to do this and each method will produce a product with varying degrees of quality. Some extraction methods may leave behind residual traces of solvents from the extraction process or may not filter out nasty compounds that may leach into the plant such as heavy metals or pesticides.
CO2 extraction is widely regarded as the best method because it leaves behind the highest concentration of CBD and minimal toxic residue, although further refining is usually needed. CO2 extraction is vastly more expensive than other extraction methods (e.g. ethanol extraction) and shows that the company has invested into the quality of their product.
Third Party Lab Test Results
Any company who knows that they have produced a quality product won’t be afraid to send it to an independent company for testing. These tests confirm the different cannabinoid concentrations (THC and CBD) as well as revealing the presence of any unwanted by-products such as solvents, heavy metals or pesticides.
You should check these results yourself and if you are unsure about anything, you should ask the company for further details.
Full Spectrum or CBD Isolate?
Full spectrum products are extracted along with all of the other constituents of the cannabis plant, including the other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. CBD isolate is CBD that has been purified to contain no other active chemicals.
Following a 2015 study, full spectrum CBD products are now considered to be more effective than CBD isolate products due to all of the natural constituents of the cannabis plant working synergistically together. However, this does not mean that CBD isolate products are ineffective.
CBD isolate products exist because they appeal to a market of people who wish to be more cautious about the THC they are consuming. This could be for a myriad of reasons, including that they may be sensitive to THC or due to the fact that they may have drug tests at work which tests for the THC’s presence. However, the likelihood of failing a drug test to a Full Spectrum CBD product is extremely small, but still exists.
Organic CBD Oil - Is I Worth It?
CBD products that are made from organically grown hemp are definitely preferable over non-organic products because: -
- They are free from synthetic pesticides;
- No nasty chemical are used in any part of the processing;
- They are better for our environment and wildlife;
- And, organic processes are better for producing fertile soil.
Organic CBD products are a much better all-round for our bodies and the world we inhabit.
The Differences Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil
If you have followed the previous sections of the article, you should now know how to spot a good quality CBD product from a reputable company. However, some companies can still employ tactics in order to fool the consumer, and one such trick is advertising hemp oil to look like CBD oil. Consequently, it is important to know the difference between the two:-
Hemp Oil (or Hemp Seed Oil)
Extracted from the seeds and stems of the plant via a process called cold-pressing, which involves squashing the plant material. The seeds and the stems do not contain any cannabinoids and therefore do not contain any CBD.
Made via extracting cannabinoids from the buds of the cannabis plants which are then placed into a carrier oil. CBD oil does contain CBD.
The important point to note is that just because they both come from hemp, doesn’t mean they are the same product.
Could I Get a Prescription for CBD Oil in the UK?
CBD oil is available for prescription in the UK under the brand name Epidiolex following its legalisation in November 2018.
Due to the cost of Epidiolex compared to conventional pharmaceutical medications, it appears that the NHS are reluctant to prescribe the product, even to people who meet the already strict criteria for its prescription.
According to the NHS website, Epidiolex can be legally prescribed to sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), as well as for two rare types of epilepsy.
Amazon and Ebay - Place to Avoid for CBD
A word of warning to prospective buyers of CBD in the UK is to avoid the websites Amazon and Ebay for CBD products.
Due to the websites own regulations, they don’t allow for CBD products to be sold on the platform, but this hasn’t stopped scammers uploading Hemp Oil products, masked as CBD products, in order to fool consumers.
Entering the world of CBD products can be a daunting task for a first time purchaser. But like with anything, it gets much easier the more you know. A few scans through this article and then using it as a reference when purchasing your CBD product should put you well on your way to your first CBD purchase.