I ordered two CBD isolates from Dank Dabber, who is local to the Seattle-area and I was curious to see how quickly they’d arrive. Dank Dabber makes great dabbing accessories, so I figured their product would be geared towards consumers who want to dab, like myself.
In a few days, a nondescript package arrived. Inside was a small glass puck full of fine, crystalline powder with a few soft chunks that broke apart on contact. The smell of sweet citrus was strong—much like cleaning agents that use citrus extract—but it lacked the pine and gas notes that mark an authentic OG Kush flower. I question the source of these terpenes, but they were pleasant nonetheless.
Does it work? Yes. Can you enjoy a flavorful smoking and dabbing experience? Sort of, but not if you’re looking for authentic cannabis flavors.
After shopping around and doing some research, I realized how difficult it can be to tell the differences between the products online. So, I tried a few products from three different websites—here’s how it went.
All in all, hemp-derived CBD from the internet does have its place in a cannabis routine, but I still prefer the complex flavors and full-spectrum effects that CBD-dominant cannabis has to offer.
Other hemp producers use pricey extraction processes, often with harsh solvents such as butane or hexane that require further processing to remove. Sunsoil pares its costs by extracting with coconut oil, which Goldstein claims has the added benefit of enhancing the bioavailability of the CBD in each dose.
Unlike most CBD manufacturers, Aunt Zelda’s posts its independent lab test results online. A 600-mg bottle of their CBD-THC oil costs $13.50 to produce. It wholesales for $27. California distributors tack on another 30%, which ratchets the price up to $34. Dispensaries double that—a typical markup in any retail business—to about $70.
Instead, Sunsoil breeds its own high-CBD seed crops indoors, which, Goldstein says, makes for stronger roots and heartier plants. The company then cultivates the plants on its small, 14-acre farm. Medical marijuana is legal in Vermont, so Sunsoil has fewer concerns about state law enforcement officials raiding the farm. Some hemp farmers in other states haven’t been so fortunate.
Wanted: better hemp farming
What gives? Are some producers turning this medicine into the “weed of greed? Or is the still-lingering weight of prohibition driving prices skyward?
Caveat emptor: Chinese-sourced CBD powder can be ordered in bulk for less than 2¢/mg on Alibaba.com.
The answer can be found in a complicated mix of factors. Today’s CBD market is young. Four years ago it was practically nonexistent. It’s also unnaturally warped by cannabis prohibition, legal uncertainties, the absence of FDA regulations, and insufficient consumer information and access. Some companies are producing high-quality, locally sourced, lab-tested, and toxin-free CBD. Others may be importing cheap hemp oil of unknown quality and slapping a CBD label on a bottle. It’s extremely difficult for patients to know the difference. Aunt Zelda’s produces excellent CBD guaranteed by lab results—but almost nobody outside California can buy it.
Even though the law does not classify CBD as a Schedule I narcotic, the DEA claims that it is. (CBD, unlike THC, is not intoxicating.) That discrepancy leaves a lot of gray area when it comes to knowing how to operate. “It’s why some manufacturers don’t list CBD on the label,” says Heather Jackson, CEO and co-founder of Realm of Caring, a patient research and advocacy nonprofit in Colorado. “They may list ‘hemp extract,’ which is code for the entire cannabinoid content, but not necessarily CBD.”