How To Choose A Reliable CBD Brand

CBD 101
How To Choose A Reliable CBD Brand

Read time: 5 minutes

With all the excitement these days surrounding the many potential benefits of CBD, it's easy to go all in without fully understanding what you are purchasing. It’s a young industry after all, and with hazy consumer awareness, it’s hard to know if you are purchasing safe CBD from honest brands. We're here to help! Whether it’s from us, or one of our competitors — we want to make sure you get the effective and potent CBD you need to live a better life. This is your guide to reliable and safe CBD shopping.

1. Familiarize yourself with delivery methods.

In recent years, you might have noticed a massive influx of so-called wellness brands on store shelves—promoting all sorts of false health claims with ‘cannabis sativa’ or ‘hemp oil’ products. While CBD does come in many forms—like creams, oils, tinctures, and gummies—it’s vital to pay close attention to the label and where the retailer you’re purchasing from is based.

What most Americans don’t know is that the legalization of hemp—passed through the 2018 Farm Bill—opened the floodgates for fraudsters to take advantage of the lack of consumer regulation for selling hemp products (including products that contain no hemp extracts).

Aside from sham ingredients that do nothing—like hemp seed oil—there are products containing delta-9 THC, which is the stuff that gets you high and is found in small concentrations in hemp alongside CBD. However, many commercial hemp companies will extract CBD from hemp and synthesize it into delta-8 THC—which also causes intoxicating effects like delta-9 THC found in recreational and medical marijuana. This synthetic form has fewer restrictions on it than the CBD itself since the government doesn’t regulate it like delta-9 THC.¹

Delta-8 THC, even CBD, can be found at gas stations in products that are often less safe and reliable. Synthetic cannabinoids flooding the market have made it much more difficult to find a trustworthy source for hemp-derived cannabinoids such as CBD, making it more important than ever to ensure that when shopping for CBD you’re double-checking other safety markers such as potency, test results, labels, and certifications.

2. Check for potency and ingredients.

CBD formulations generally come in three varieties: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolates (sometimes categorized as THC-free). Full spectrum CBD is the closest to how it exists in nature—retaining all of the natural terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids within the hemp plant (including delta-9 THC). If it's a full spectrum product, it should have no more than 0.3% THC to be in compliance with the US Farm Bill.² If it does contain more than 0.3% THC, it’s an illegal product from an unreliable source. Similar but different, broad spectrum CBD contains everything but the delta-9 THC—while isolates contain nothing but pure (isolated) CBD. At Lazarus Naturals for instance, we make THC-free products with our isolate for those with THC sensitivity. Many people believe that full or broad spectrum CBD products are more effective than isolates—since they may encourage the entourage effect, which could enhance the therapeutic potential of CBD.³ However, if you need to avoid failing a drug test for work, CBD isolates are much more ideal (since they only contain CBD and nothing else). It’s worth noting that some drug tests will still flag cannabinoids or the trace amounts of THC in isolate products. If you have an upcoming drug test, consult with your doctor before using CBD products at all.

You should be able to take the potency information from the bottle and verify it with a certificate of analysis (or COA) from a third-party lab to ensure that the product only contains what it says it contains.

3. Look for the COA (Certificate of Analysis).

When it comes to CBD and other cannabinoid-based products, one of the most important things to inspect is whether the company offers certificates of analysis for the products it sells. An unbiased third-party lab produces the COA to ensure products are safe and properly labeled. A COA includes information on a batch-by-batch basis that showcases a product’s exact potency, alongside presence of metals, pesticides, or other contaminants. Reputable CBD companies include a QR code on products that link to the COA results on their site—allowing you to verify the product's purity, safety, and potency. If the product you are purchasing doesn't have a COA, it's not reliable.

4. Opt for USDA Organic CBD.

Many products claim that they're all-natural or organic—but look for products specifically with a USDA Organic badge on the packaging. Products with this label are guaranteed to meet quality standards set by the USDA.⁴ More importantly, these products are certified to be free of metals, fertilizers, and pesticides that could be introduced to your body from products not meeting these standards. The USDA Organic badge will ensure that you only get domestically-grown products free from pesticides and fertilizers that could have potentially harmful effects.

5. Avoid companies that make false claims.

One little-known fact to consider is how many companies are willing to make false claims about cannabinoids like CBD and their effects. Look out for colorful marketing jargon from companies claiming that CBD is a cure-all or can fix medical conditions. While evidence suggests there are many potential benefits to CBD, it should never be used to treat or cure any medical condition. Always talk to your doctor before taking any supplements, even CBD. To stay on the safe side, be sure to only purchase CBD from licensed dispensaries or companies like Lazarus Naturals that offer publicly available information, including lab results, growing, and manufacturing processes. Try to avoid purchasing CBD products at gas stations and smoke shops to avoid companies that make false promises. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

6. Make sure your product is really, well, real

One thing we didn't think we'd have to warn you about — fake products! If you see or purchase a product that has questionable branding or packaging, trust your gut. For example, here's a product pretending to be Lazarus Naturals that is quite clearly not real. 

fake Lazarus Naturals product

How can you tell? Read below for the complete checklist every reliable CBD product/brand should have. And of course, if ever you have questions about a product that you suspect might not be real, please reach out to our customer support team. 

How To Make Sure A CBD Product Is Legit

If you've done your research and think you've found a good product, the best way to keep yourself safe is to double-check the product's label to ensure you're not buying anything inauthentic. The label should contain the following information, which should also be available on the company's website: 

  • Cannabinoid content and potency levels 
  • Ingredients 
  • Net weight 
  • Production and expiration dates
  • Instructions for use and storage 
  • Serving size or dosage information 
  • Warning labels 
  • Name and address of the distributor or manufacturer
  • Lot, batch, or control number (corresponding to the COA on the website)
  • Contact information for customer support team with regular hours

The product is likely unsafe if any of this information is missing or incorrect.

Shopping for safe, lab-tested, and certified organic CBD products can feel overwhelming, especially with so many unreliable brands. However, if you follow these five tips, you'll have a much easier time finding a CBD brand you can trust, like Lazarus Naturals. Our CBD products are certified USDA organic and third-party lab tested to ensure quality, purity, and potency. We’re here to support you on your journey with cannabinoids by offering an easy, educational experience you can count on at each step of your wellness journey.