“There’s no oversight,” says Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, adjunct assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the JAMA article. Beyond the label, he adds, “There’s no consistency. You know that every Hershey’s bar you buy and every Coke you buy will be exactly the same. But that’s not the case with the majority of CBD products. It’s not unexpected to see variability within a given brand.” This means that you may notice improvements the first time you buy and try a particular product, but none the next.
Whole plant CBD oils can be made in a variety of ways. The “original” CBD oil was created by Rick Simpson. This method requires you to soak the plant material in a solvent, such as grain alcohol. Once the material soaks, the remaining liquid is full of CBD (and other cannabinoids), you evaporate the solvent and the remaining oil is ready for consumption.

Healthy folks vaguely looking to add a little spring in their step (via better sleep, reducing anxiety, or easing muscle soreness) drizzle a little oil into their smoothie or latte. They might also spot-treat with a dab of oil in problematic areas. In the past several years, published papers have suggested that the compound can help with a spectrum of medical conditions, including anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease, addiction, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, fractures, migraines, psoriasis, and pain. In an animal study, purified extracts of CBD and THC appeared to slow the growth of a type of brain tumor.
Researchers at the Department of Pharmacognosy, The School of Pharmacy, University of London, UK, basis the study conducted on mice found that CBD oil has analgesic properties and may relieve chronic pain of all kinds . It can disrupt the activity of pain receptors in the body and instead cause a release of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine – “feel good” compounds that can ease discomfort and pain, even if the pharmaceutical painkillers have no effect.
It is important that you understand the basics of CBD, too. CBD is just one type of cannabinoid that is found in cannabis. Cannabis contains numerous cannabinoids, and CBD is just one of them. CBD is made from the stalks, leaves, and roots of the cannabis plant, unlike other strains that are all made in different ways. It also does not have any THC oil, which many of cannabis strains do. THC oil can induce sleepiness and a high just like it does in marijuana and weed. THC is also another strain belonging to the cannabis family again much like marijuana, weed, and hemp. Hemp has similar properties as CBD and it is also very much legal around the USA.
The appeal? Proponents claim CBD can help ease pain, anxiety, depression and stress, boost focus and productivity, improve the immune system, reduce inflammation and more. And – unlike its psychoactive cousin THC – CBD, they say, is harmless, legal and can't get you high. "The known is it's good for you, it helps a lot of people and a lot of things, and you can't hurt yourself," says Phil Asquith, a farmer and producer of extra-virgin olive oil in California, who founded one of the first companies in the CBD space. "The unknown is all the details."
The same terms could be applied to what's actually in CBD products. While some do contain CBD, others (often marketed as "CBD-rich hemp oil") may have barely any, Asquith says. And depending on state laws, they can include varying levels of THC too – a combination shown to have some benefits, but also drawbacks, of course, if you're not looking for a high. "People will play all these games with the numbers because the consumers aren't really educated in this space yet and it's easy to get taken advantage of," he says. "It's the milligrams of the actual CBD molecule that matter."
Another concern is about medications with which CBD might interact. This won’t be an issue with most drugs, says Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., a palliative medicine physician and scientist who studies cannabis and integrates it into his Seattle medical practice. The exceptions are blood thinners, IV antibiotics, and other drugs whose exact dosing is crucial and must be monitored closely, he says. (Of course, if you have a health problem, talk to your doctor before using CBD, and never take it instead of seeing your physician for a serious condition.)
If you haven’t been bombarded with CBD marketing or raves about it from friends, get ready. This extract—which comes from either marijuana or its industrial cousin, hemp—is popping up everywhere. There are CBD capsules, tinctures, and liquids for vaping plus CBD-infused lotions, beauty products, snacks, coffee, and even vaginal suppositories. Already some 1,000 brands of CBD products are available in stores—and online in states that don’t have lenient cannabis laws. This is a tiny fraction of what’s to come: The CBD market is poised to exceed $1 billion by 2020, per the Chicago-based research firm Brightfield Group.
The appeal? Proponents claim CBD can help ease pain, anxiety, depression and stress, boost focus and productivity, improve the immune system, reduce inflammation and more. And – unlike its psychoactive cousin THC – CBD, they say, is harmless, legal and can't get you high. "The known is it's good for you, it helps a lot of people and a lot of things, and you can't hurt yourself," says Phil Asquith, a farmer and producer of extra-virgin olive oil in California, who founded one of the first companies in the CBD space. "The unknown is all the details."
Buying online is less reliable still because there’s no regulation or standardization. What you see on the label may not be what you are getting. A 2017 study in JAMA found that of the 84 CBD products researchers bought online, 43% had more CBD than indicated, while 26% had less, and some had unexpected THC. “There’s a 75% chance of getting a product where the CBD is mislabeled,” says Marcu, one of the study’s coauthors.
Cannabinol results from the degradation of THC. There is little of it in the fresh plant, but decarboxylation often raises the amount of CBN in the plant as an effect. CBN is only mildly psychoactive and has a higher affinity for the CB2 receptor than the CB1 receptor, linking CBN to the body’s immune system. In hemp oil, CBN is present in levels of 0.2% or lower.

Recently I asked myself this very question and the more I read the more contradictory statements I found and the more confused I became. With an extensive background in medical marijuana and high THC strains I felt I had a good grasp on which one was “better” before I started researching for this article and could make a good argument for why medical marijuana derived CBD is better than hemp derived CBD.  More recently I have been introduced to CBD derived from hemp and after some preliminary research I was not so sure. Fortunately, I have connections from within the industry and so my mission began. I set out to talk to the largest names on both sides of the spectrum and get their opinions on this matter.
This article may contain certain forward-looking statements and information, as defined within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and is subject to the Safe Harbor created by those sections. This material contains statements about expected future events and/or financial results that are forward-looking in nature and subject to risks and uncertainties. Such forward-looking statements by definition involve risks, uncertainties.
×