After the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill, industrial hemp became legal for the first time, and with it also came CBD. While there’s still some grey area on if CBD is completely legal, it’s so far been anyone’s game…a relatively unregulated field that has exploded in popularity. According to Rolling Stone, CBD is estimated to be worth a staggering $22 billion by 2022, which many anticipate rising even further if current trends keep going. However, before we jump too far ahead, we first have to ask: what is CBD and why did it become so popular?

CBD or Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive version of the marijuana plant that contains little to no THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana)…or, in other words, it’s marijuana that doesn’t get you high. So far, users old and young have reported that it helps with everything from physical pain to mental anxiety, with many people starting to give it to their dogs as well. Yes, a green rush is upon us, with a big core of sales coming from CBD oil.

While a lot of people still prefer to consume CBD as you traditionally would marijuana (I.E.: smoking, vaping, edibles, etc), a big core of what’s been making CBD culture take off has been the flagship oils. As CBD is popular amongst a wide range of demographics, oil enables people to blend CBD in with their food, as well as for vendors to easily mix CBD into products from foods to topicals. Although not always flashy, CBD oil is one of the best ways to get into CBD, as well as start mixing it in with your routine. That’s why we’re going to give you the low-down on not only what’s up with oils, but the industry in general. Check it out below:

The Lowdown on Oils

CBD oils come in all shapes, sizes, flavors, and strengths. The first consideration we should note is the difference between CBD oil and hemp oil, which is a common misconception amongst first-time users. According to Anavii Market, the biggest difference between CBD oil and hemp oil is that hemp oil uses seeds from the hemp plant, while CBD oil uses the whole plant. We’ll talk about the specifics of how people use the entire plant, but, first, let’s go over how and why people use oils in the first place.

A big reason oils have become so popular is their versatility. Whether it’s mixing it in food, drinks, or even taking it straight, CBD oil can often be mixed well. Of all the products in the market, the best in terms of quality is Verma Farms. They’re the only company to offer a full-day CBD solution, combining their Chill, Focus, and Boost products.

“Getting into this industry, we knew that we had to make something everyone could sort of make their own out of, so we came up with Boost – our tasteless flavor. We see a lot of orders all over for it all over the country…a lot of the people on the East Coast see if they can buy it in bulk, especially those who work in foodservice and hospitality. Probably one of our best sellers.”

Whether you’re looking to get a flavorless oil or not starting out, there’s more than just flavor when it comes to choosing CBD. Yes, with the different ingredients and strengths, there are a few different terms and processes you should become familiar with before making your first purchase.

The History

Although a naturally occurring plant, growing marijuana to specifically contain more CBD is a practice that didn’t start until the 1900s. According to CBD Central, the history of CBD starts in the 1940s, which was the first time we were able to isolate CBD. Although this was great progress, the Controlled Substance Act of 1970 made marijuana officially a Schedule I drug, meaning it had no medical purpose. However, states were quick to combat this trend.

As Oregon became the first state to decriminalize marijuana shortly after in 1973, perhaps the biggest hallmark towards progress came in 1996 when California fully legalized medical marijuana. This was significant, as it brought on a bunch of different growers, as well as opened the floodgates for people to start taking marijuana for whatever ailments they had…yet, the demand for CBD still wasn’t that strong until the mid-2000s.

Around 2004, the story of Charlotte Figi went mainstream, who started taking CBD to reduce her seizures. It became widely reported how effective CBD was, which made more people aware of the benefits that CBD has. Despite widespread curiosity, it still wasn’t popular, as a lot of the demand for THC-based buds made CBD scarce in places like California, where medical marijuana had now been legal for some time.

Fast forward to now and for the very first time, the 2018 Farm Bill made it legal to grow industrial hemp, and thus CBD. The popularity of the plant has never been higher, with a lot of people substituting THC usage for CBD. Beyond those who were previously medical marijuana patients, CBD has also heavily been in demand by those who have never even touched marijuana, citing that it’s better than whatever medication they’ve currently been taking. Yes, CBD is now fully mainstream with no signs of slowing down, primarily due to it being intended as a form of medicine.

What Do People Use CBD For?

According to Project CBD, some of the earliest dated uses of CBD was by individuals like Queen Victoria, who used CBD-rich cannabis for menstrual cramps in the 19th century. As an early case of pain relief, this has been a common usage throughout history, but it wasn’t until the Charlotte’s Web case that we really started to see more examples. According to Harvard Health, studies of treating childhood epilepsy quickly gained popularity, including for Dravet syndrome, as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). Furthermore, Harvard also notes early reports of treating anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pains, which some early studies can back up as well.

In a recent cross-sectional analysis from researchers at The Center for Medical Cannabis Education, Helfgott Research Institute of the National University of Natural Medicine, and the Donald P. Shiley BioScience Center of San Diego State University, CBD was reported in 62 percent of cases to be a medical treatment, with the most popular choices being pain, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Although a wide range, stories like these have been popping up all over, with many of them coming from those both old and young. And while it might seem far-fetched that there’s a miracle cure for everyone that takes it, the use cases for each age group are rising as well.

Perhaps one of the biggest consumers of marijuana and CBD has become baby boomers, which have been taking a sizeable share of the industry. According to a survey published by AARP, in March 2018, over 36 percent of medical marijuana registrants were those 50 and older. Furthermore, baby boomers and millennials combined to generate 41 percent of CBD consumers, according to a survey published in PR Newswire. The acceptance of CBD by a wide range of consumers is somewhat comforting, turning marijuana from what was once a young person’s game into now a legitimate competitor in the medical field…however, can it really fix everything people say? 

Can CBD Really Fix All of That?

While the early grassroots efforts behind CBD has been as strong as ever, the science community hasn’t been as receptive. Although that’s not to say the general consensus is that the medical and science fields do or do not support using CBD, it’s just that there isn’t enough empirical data yet to make a clear distinction. As noted by Science News, many critics have been skeptical of CBD as a cure-all, and it’s easy to see why.

While it’s true that the brain has cannabinoid receptors (amongst many other animals), a lot of the studies that have looked into the benefits of these have been limited in trials with humans. For example, despite the claim that CBD can help with anxiety relief, NPR points out that early studies have only been conducted on animals so far, with very human cases. Beyond just testing if the results are real, often times the product can be bunk too…leading on this placebo effect that makes testimonials murky.

Although regulations coming from states where marijuana is legal like Washington, Colorado, and California have started to protect consumers, there’s still been a fair amount of snake oil being sold (especially in unregulated states) as well as mislabeled products; in fact, according to a study by The University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School, in 2017, nearly 70 percent of CBD sold online was mislabeled. Additionally, although it’s an extreme case, there have been early reports of some spiked CBD cartridges (according to the Baltimore Sun), which while predominately affecting the black market for THC carts, is a cause of concern to some as well. We’ll note that despite early hiccups, you shouldn’t let a few bad apples ruin the bunch.

Even though there isn’t the medical backing of CBD yet, the early, repeated testimonials have been promising. Although the research that’s been conducted is limited, theres’ still not only strong word-of-mouth that’s growing but a genuine nature to what people have been saying in large numbers. A big reason that people have loved CBD is that it’s relatively harmless, with few to no cases of any problems from genuine consumption. 

No matter if you’ve tried CBD or not, getting into something new like this can be quite the endeavor. If you’re not familiar with CBD, then talking to some people you may know who have tried it might ease your thinking on it a little bit, as well as provide you with the answers you need. Of course, it’s also smart to consult with your doctor on if CBD is right for you, as well as what type of dosage you should take. And if you feel confident, ready, and educated, then we’ve got the lowdown on what to know about oils.

Which CBD Oil Is Right for You?

As noted by CBD Origin, there are three main categories of CBD that people buy:

The first we’ll go over is Full-Spectrum. Full-Spectrum contains all of the compounds naturally found in the plant, which magnifies the benefits. It’s easily the strongest out of the three, and one of the most popular amongst CBD fanatics. The only downside? It’s also the one most likely to contain trace amounts of THC, which you should be careful of if you have a drug test coming up.

The next one we’ll talk about is Broad-Spectrum, which is a cross between Full-Spectrum and Isolate. Broad-Spectrum still utilizes the compounds of the plant, however, it goes through a process to remove as much THC as possible. A safe in-between, it still might contain THC, which is something to be on the lookout for.

Finally, there’s CBD Isolate, which is the purest form of CBD and extracted from all other aspects of the plant. Containing the least to no THC, it’s the safest out the three if you have a drug test and still has long-lasting effects. If you’re new to CBD, finding a solid Isolate supplier can be a great first step. 

Another thing you should consider when buying CBD oil is the type of ingredients that are in what you’re taking. Some oils are completely organic and vegan with no additives, while others sometimes might not make the cut. Additionally, be mindful that some companies add ingredients such as melatonin to help as a sleeping aid. All in all, with how easy it is to grow CBD, finding a high-quality batch for the right price should be a cinch with just a little research.

How You Can Use CBD Oil

CBD oil can be used in a variety of ways. Perhaps the two most popular is to administer it directly under your tongue (letting it settle in), or through mixing it into other foods or drinks. Some of the most popular choices for mixing include liquids like smoothies, dressings, aiolis, and yogurts, as well as cooking it into certain foods. We’ll note that, for most oils, there isn’t necessarily a process that will ‘burn off’ oils when baking; however, be mindful not to administer oils into a bare pan without cooking it into a substance first.

In addition to human consumption, there’s also a wide range of people who’ve begun giving CBD to their pets. Although a relatively recent phenomenon, it’s also something that has spread just as quickly as human consumption. The results? Very similar to what we’ve seen in humans.

CBD Oils and Your Pets

Even though there has yet to be a lot of studies done on CBD usage in our pets, there are certain examples that we’ve already found some scientific ties to. According to the AKC, dogs specifically have a cannabinoid system that’s similar to humans, providing them with many of the same benefits humans receive from CBD as well. Early users have found a significant impact in giving their dog CBD to reduce anxiety before a thunderstorm or fireworks on the 4th of July. Furthermore, we’ve seen people giving older dogs with lankier features such as Dobermans and Great Danes CBD to help with common joint pains and aches. And finally, dogs with epilepsy (similar to the Charlotte’s Web case) have also started to see some benefits as well.

While the FDA hasn’t quite approved CBD for pets yet, a lot of veterinarians have reported that their patients have seen improved results. Granted, this is similar to the word-of-mouth cases we see out of people, only with a little less variety in regards to what animals can consume (as it currently stands, only oil or treats are available for pets). Ultimately, it’s best to talk to your veterinarian to see if CBD oil is right for your dog before, including consulting on what type of quality or brand you should be administering to your furry friends. 

What to Look for When Buying an Oil

For how much CBD is readily available on the market, there’s a fair amount of considerations you should make before diving in. Whether it’s for you or your pet, buying the CBD oil that’s right for you is tough, especially when considering the sheer amount of people that are looking to take advantage of newbies to the game. However, that’s why we’ve established a rundown on what the buying process should look like.

Deciding Between Full-Spectrum, Broad-Spectrum, CBD Isolate

One of the first considerations you should make is if you want a full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate as your oil of choice. You can always change your mind afterwards and switch it up, but the core idea here is if you’re okay with having a little THC in your CBD or not; for example, as some people get drug tested pretty stringently at work, going with an isolate might be your best bet. Additionally, don’t forget that different brands vary in regards to their strength in each, where an Isolate of one brand might be stronger than a full-spectrum of another.

Figuring Out the Quality

Once you’ve decided the type of CBD oil you’re going to take, the next thing you should consider is the type of quality you’re going for per the price point. Most CBD will be listed in milligrams (mg), which, as noted by Healthline, currently range on the market anywhere from 20mg to 1,000mg per dosage. With consideration to the type of CBD oil you chose above, pick a dosage that you believe will best acclimate with your lifestyle.

Beyond how potent the oil is, there are other considerations you should bear in mind as well. Most oils will have on the label if it’s organic, vegan, or pesticide-free, and given how simple it is to make organic and/or vegan CBD oil, this should be towards the top of your list. Most legitimate CBD companies will also provide a lab report upon request (if not already publicly available), which you should take full advantage of in determining the quality. And, finally, always trust your gut with the consistency and color of it, as there’s still a fair amount of bunk material out there even in oils.

When buying online, always go after a trusted source for your materials. Check reviews on different blogs or from influencers, as well as see where the business is incorporated out of. If you can, try to purchase your CBD from those who are producing it directly, or list their third party supplier for hemp. 

Common Red Flags

As CBD is a new field nationally, there’s some red flags you should be on the lookout for when choosing oils as well:

No Lab Test Available

If an oil company doesn’t have a lab report available, then they’re probably not worth dealing with. Not only is a lab test valuable for the safety of your own consumption, but if you get wrapped up with the law in a state where medical marijuana is illegal. As many states’ court systems have started to become backed up with testing between CBD and THC buds from arrests, having a lab report handy could possibly avoid dealing with law enforcement any further than you have to.

The Consistency Is Off

Although it’s rare, there have been some early cases of people cutting CBD oil with honeycut (the same substance found in bootleg THC cartridges). If an oil is too thick or sticky, you should be wary of it. Most CBD oils have a relatively high viscosity and are smooth to go down.

The Color Has Turned

Depending on the type of oil, CBD can come in a few colors. However, if it doesn’t match up with other brands or the terpenes being used, then it’s wise to be skeptical. We’ll note that sometimes companies that use clear bottles instead of darker tints end up with an off-color if they’ve been sitting in the sun for a while, which is why it’s also important to find a shop you can trust. 

It Doesn’t Have a Reliable Web Presence

Even most mom-and-pop CBD operations have at least an Instagram. Although they don’t need to be digital marketing mavericks, the CBD company you’re buying from should at the very least have a web presence. At the same time, be skeptical of companies that are producing CBD and putting it in prepackaged materials from sites like DHGate. While a lot of the CBD you’ll find is reliable, there are still bad actors on and offline you need to be on your toes about.

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Buying CBD oil can be somewhat intimidating if you’ve never given it a shot, which is why it’s best to just go with your interests and experiment from there. If you’ve got the money, going with a variety pack or mixing it up can be smart as well, giving you a chance to try other options (such as lavender or melatonin). Ultimately, what you’re trying to establish is why you’re taking CBD, as well as which type of oil acclimates to your lifestyle. 

How the Future of CBD Will Pan Out

For how complex the CBD market has become, it appears that this will be around for quite a bit of time. According to a poll by CBS News, 65 percent of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, which proves there’s unwavering support. While we’re still waiting for the government to catch up to public sentiment, that doesn’t necessarily mean CBD is in the clear. Although industrial hemp is federally legal, it’s generally marketed (and legally considered) as a diet supplement, not a medicine. For this reason, the idea of it being something to treat everyone can be hairy to talk about nationally.

With marijuana federally illegal, there’s a grey area that CBD generally falls under. Ultimately, the government has been fairly hands-off with regulating CBD, letting states decide what to do with the substance. Many have started to pass their own laws to help regulate the quality (for example, CBD sold in Washington state has to be grown in-state, as well as California requiring marijuana to be organic), which has helped push the needle in regards to what we might be seeing nationally. Plus, with CBD already out the bag, there’s very little we can do to reverse consumption, only improving its experience for the next years to come.

In the past year, we’ve CBD be infused with everything from ice cream and candy to beer and kombucha, which has been both interesting and scary at the same time. On one end, it’s great to see such innovations come about, while on the other we don’t know exactly the quality and consistency of every product. When you add in the factor that a lot of people are trying to enter this market at whatever cost, there can be a wide range of skepticism…which is why CBD oil will stay at the forefront.

As the foundation of the industry, CBD oil is here to stay. Whether it’s infusing in our own food and drinks or getting it from a restaurant and bar, this is the focal point of everyone’s base. And while we all might get wrapped up in what the latest and greatest on the market is, one thing’s for sure: CBD oil will be here for a long, long time.

What’s your favorite CBD oil? Comment with your insights below!Opinions expressed here are the opinions of the author. Influencive does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and can not investigate relationships with brands, products, and people mentioned and is up to the author to disclose. VIP Contributors and Contributors, amongst other accounts and articles, are professional fee-based.

I am a women’s rights activist, running junkie, and eternal marketing student. I help companies market their brand to millennials and gen z. In my spare time, you’ll find playing with my golden retriever and reading the newest business books by my fire.