Are You Overpaying For Your CBD Oil? Why Full-Spectrum Is Better
Many factors determine the cost of creating CBD products—the best way to avoid over paying, is to educate yourself on what to look for when choosing a full spectrum brand.
In 2021, everywhere you turn you’re likely to come across CBD oil—aside from standalone bottles of oil, it’s also found in bath and beauty products, sports supplements, pet CBD, over-the-counter ointments, and beverages and snacks. So why all the fuss over CBD? “The sale of CBD products sky-rocketed 706 percent from the passage of the second Farm Bill in 2018 to the end of 2019,” according to the forthcoming book The Essential Guide to CBD. Copyright © 2021 by Trusted Media Brands, Inc. and Project CBD. “The research firm Brightfield Group estimates that, by 2023, the total U.S. CBD market could reach $23.7 billion.”
If you’ve considered purchasing CBD oil (first: brush up on these CBD facts you should know), you’ve likely noticed the massive difference in pricing from one brand to the next—a fact that leaves many consumers wondering if “you get what you pay for” or, if they should go for a more budget-friendly option.
“The market always determines the price, and we are in the early stages of CBD production,” says Aaron Riley, CEO of CannaSafe, California’s leading ISO accredited cannabis testing laboratory. “As the wholesale prices of CBD come down, it will directly impact the cost of products. With the amount of hemp production in progress, I project that CBD prices will become much more affordable over the next few years.”
While that’s great news for your future purchases, let’s explore what steps you can take now to ensure you’re paying a fair price for your full spectrum CBD oil.
How much does CBD oil cost?
If you’ve started shopping around for CBD oil or CBD tincture, you’ve likely seen some bottles for as low as $30 while others retail for upwards of $200. A recent report by Leafreport, an educational platform with a mission to instill transparency into the confusing CBD industry, compared the prices of almost 90 different brands and checked how they changed from 2019 (good news: 70 percent of brands lowered their prices in 2020). Prices are usually shown in dollars per milligram of CBD. They found that oil and tinctures currently cost between $0.025 to $0.20 per mg of CBD, with an average of $0.09.
To most accurately compare costs across products, calculate the cost per milligram by dividing the cost of the product by the total number of milligrams in a bottle. For example, to compare a $50 bottle containing 500 mg of CBD to a $150 bottle containing 2500mg of CBD:
$50/500mg = $0.10/mg
$150/2500mg = $0.06/mg
In this example, the more expensive bottle is actually the better deal.
Why CBD oil is so expensive: potency
CBD prices depend on a variety of features, but the most critical factor is potency. “Regardless of the brand or bottle size, the main difference in pricing comes from how many milligrams of CBD is packed into the bottle,” says Roger Brown, CEO and president of ACS Laboratory, the largest state-of-the-art cannabis and hemp testing facility in the eastern United States. “The higher the potency, the greater the efficacy.”
Why CBD oil is so expensive: raw materials and ingredients
“The simple answer is that it takes a lot of plant to make a little bottle of oil,” says Kristina Risola, MA, CRC, NBC-HWC, a national board-certified health and wellness coach with a focus in cannabis coaching who serves as lead faculty for Natural Wellness Academy’s Cannabis Coaching Program. “The average CBD dominant flower is somewhere around 10 percent CBD at dry weight. This means that a 1,500 mg bottle of CBD oil takes approximately a half-ounce of dried material to make. While this doesn’t sound like a lot of plant material, it is.”
Along these same lines, a “full-spectrum CBD oil” will be more expensive than a product labeled as “isolate.” Why? “Commercial extraction processes often destroy the other medicinal compounds in the plant, like terpenes, leaving a CBD isolate behind,” says Risola. “Medicinally this is not the same as a full spectrum or whole plant extract. We need far larger amounts of isolated CBD, than when using products that include the full spectrum of medicinal compounds to achieve the same effects.”
Unfortunately, due to the lack of regulation, terms like “full-spectrum” are often slapped on labels as a marketing ploy and may not hold any merit.
Why CBD oil is so expensive: the extraction process
The type of extraction process also makes a difference in the final retail price of CBD products. “Solvent-based extraction methods—which may use solvents such as CO2, ethanol, or butane—are the most scalable, and generally the least expensive,” says Brown. “These products are also generally safe. But solvent-based extraction can lead to harmful toxins remaining in the product, so brands must test for residual solvents to be sure.”
Alternatively, solventless extraction is more expensive because it’s the most resource-intensive process. “It’s also the most natural and most safe,” he says. “As more and more consumers learn about this method, we’re seeing demand increase despite the price point.”
Why CBD oil is so expensive: overhead
There’s quite a bit of overhead in producing full spectrum CBD oil, and these costs get passed along to consumers. “Despite being legal, the CBD industry still faces many hurdles because it’s new and associated with cannabis,” says Lital Shafir, head of product at Leafreport. “As a result, it’s harder and more expensive for CBD companies to gain access to banking, insurance, payment processing, and investors.”
Plus, don’t forget about ensuring safety and efficacy, either. “Third-party testing is non-negotiable,” Risola says. “If the company isn’t doing testing and providing it to you for review, stay far away. Testing should include results for cannabinoid content in addition to screenings for residual solvents, heavy metals, mold, pesticides, and other potential contaminants.”
Does higher-priced CBD mean higher quality?
If you typically shop with the thinking of “it’s expensive, so it must be worth it,” it’s wise to abandon those thoughts when it comes to CBD oil. “There are plenty of products with eye-catching labels, hefty price tags, and poor-quality product—and even no CBD in it at all,” cautions Risola, who points out that “hemp seed oil” doesn’t contain CBD and definitely shouldn’t be listed as the first ingredient. “Much like food, knowing your source is the best way to higher quality. Some of the best CBD I’ve purchased has been online, from small farms, and very inexpensive.”
What should you look for when choosing a CBD oil?
“I would encourage people to focus on how the CBD was extracted, how did it test, and the quality of the other ingredients,” suggests Riley. He also recommends looking the brand up online, to learn about their story and their products. Here’s what you want to look for:
- If they post their certificate of analysis (COA)
- If they have good reviews on google or trust pilot
- If their products are "full spectrum"
- If the oil or tincture is organic
Additionally, Risola says it’s important to know where the product was made. “If the person selling the product to you doesn’t know where it was grown, how it was processed, and how it got to their store shelf, it’s not worth spending money on—and certainly not worth putting in your body. There are a lot of mislabeled, white-labeled, and outright fraudulent products on the market.”
You may be over paying for your CBD oil, if it lacks any of the above factors.
Where should you buy CBD oil?
By now, you may be wondering if it matters if you buy CBD oil online versus in a retail shop. “If you can find a product from a reputable CBD brand in a retail shop then no, it doesn’t matter,” says Shafir. “That way, you can check the company’s third-party test results, reviews, and other info online before making your purchase. However, the issue is that retail shops often carry low-quality CBD products from brands that might not even have an online presence—so you can’t do any research to protect yourself. This is especially true for CBD oil sold at gas stations.”
Of course, you also need to discern when shopping online. “Consumers who decide to buy online, should do their due diligence and look for brands with good online reviews for quality products and good customer service.” It’s also best to buy directly from the consumer’s website, versus big box stores or third-party sites to avoid knock-offs and scams—which also might jack up the price of the product.
So, how do you know if you’re overpaying?
“Everyone reacts differently to CBD, but consumers who buy potent, full-spectrum CBD oils and do not feel any effects should know they’re probably overpaying,” says Brown.
Hopefully, this marketplace uncertainty won’t last much longer. “I predict that we will have testing requirements and more transparency over the next couple years, which will lead to a more fair market for consumers,” says Riley.
In the meantime, we invite you to try Dreamland Organics, full spectrum CBD MCT oil, made from our organic hemp flowers. Our COA's are posted on site and practices are transparent. Sleep easy when ordering from us, pun intended!