You can’t buy real CBD oil on Amazon.
Talk to anyone knowledgeable about CBD and barely a few minutes into a conversation is the mention of how expensive it is. Indeed, a typical search online for a bottle of CBD can cost as much as one’s electric or phone bill.
In spite of the high cost, CBD products have soared in popularity because of the surprisingly positive results many people have achieved – and without many of the adverse side effects that are common with pharmaceutical drugs. There’s a reason for this.
How the CBD Buzz Started
It was only about 30 years ago that researchers discovered that humans have an “endocannabinoid system” (ECS). The ECS regulates a wide range of biological functions, including sleep, mood, temperature control, immune response, pain and pleasure perception, memory, appetite, and much more.
In the decades that followed, a few states began legalizing medical marijuana because of the numerous positive medical benefits that were being reported. So naturally, research projects developed to further understand how the plant’s different 100-plus cannabinoids affected our ECS. The cannabinoid “CBD” stood out.
In the plant world, the cannabis plant can express either a high percentage of THC (hence, marijuana) or a high percentage of CBD, but rarely both. The high CBD, low THC (<0.03% plant was classified as hemp.
In 2014, the USDA allowed limited amounts of hemp to be grown in a handful of states under special research grants to further understand the best agronomic practices and to enable the extraction of larger quantities of CBD.
Indeed, CBD was a rare commodity that was rapidly developing a promising reputation of medicinal benefits without the psychotropic effects of THC (the drug that gives the high). Then finally, on December 31, 2018, a new Farm Bill was signed that decriminalized the production of hemp and the race was on.
How CBD Became the New Market Boom
In 2019, planted hemp acreage exploded! However, no one really had a handle on (or paid much attention to) how all this enthusiasm for planting hemp acreage for CBD extraction translated into the final quantity of CBD for sale.
Throughout 2019, CBD prices remained high as the quantity of CBD on the market was derived from these smaller, limited research plantings of hemp harvested in the prior years. Like the Oklahoma Land Rush, or the California Gold Rush, the scoundrels looking for a fast buck blended in with the scores of legitimate entrepreneurs.
Anyone could slap a label on a bottle.
At best, the scoundrels would add a tiny amount of CBD. At worst, they’d just fill a bottle with vegetable oil and call it good enough. Visually, they all looked like bona fide CBD products, and of course, the placebo effect was in full force – and still is today (more on that in a moment).
Soon Dr. Oz and other media began doing reports on all counterfeit products being sold as well as those products whose stated quantity of CBD in the product was nowhere near what lab results documented.
The Differences in Hemp Seed Oil vs CBD Oil
Follow this next part closely.
Some labels say their products contain hemp extract, some list hemp oil, and others list hemp seed oil.
Briefly, when CBD is extracted, the hemp plant is ground up, placed in a stainless steel vessel, and under high pressure a solvent (most commonly ethanol or CO2) is introduced which flushes out the oils, cannabinoids, chlorophyll, etc from the leaves flowers/buds on the plant. At the other end comes a thick viscous oil that is further refined and purified. It is a very sophisticated and technical process.
Now for the farmer, the worst thing that can happen to his CBD hemp crop is to have male plants in their field. They will pollinate and degrade the quality and quantity of the females.
Ok, now picture in another part of the country a farmer who is intentionally growing hemp for seed and fiber with no interest in CBD.
He wants those hemp seeds. In fact, they’re quite nutritious, high in Omegas, and there’s a good demand as a healthy food supplement (think hemp hearts).
But here’s the catch: hemp seeds contain ZERO CBD. I’ll repeat that for effect: Hemp seeds contain ZERO CBD. To get the oil, the seeds are simply crushed in an expeller (often called cold-pressed) like soy or canola and sold by the gallons.
There’s not much high-tech here.
So both examples above technically do produce “oil”. And they could both fit the definition of a plant “extract”. However, a gallon of hemp “seed” oil sells for about $25 bucks while an equivalent amount of CBD – near 2019’s peak – would sell for about $25,000! So it is easy to see how this became fertile ground for fraud – or at minimum, deceptive marketing.
Where is CBD Today?
Back to the farmer and all that 2019 acreage… When the smoke cleared at the end of harvest last year – in very round numbers – close to 80,000 acres of CBD hemp was harvested.
However, the best back-of-the-envelope estimates for 2019 CBD consumption suggest that the entire 2019 CBD demand could have been satisfied with roughly only 20,000 acres!
Prices for harvested biomass plummeted from around $40/lb to about $7/lb.
A kilo of CBD that once went for as high as $7000/kg crashed to $700/kg.
Extraction processors suddenly found themselves with barrels of CBD that there was no market for. Many farmers were wiped out after spending upwards of $20,000/acre in growing costs.
And in a cruel twist of irony, as more new states finalized licensing and rules since last year, 2020 can see another wave of new optimistic growers planting hemp for another year of surplus. Eventually, supply will align with demand, and prices and acreage will normalize, but it sure won’t be this year.
The Dirty Little Secret of the CBD Industry
By comparison, the segment of the supply chain that has remained relatively unscathed by comparison is the retailers – and the scammers.
Consumer demand is strong and growing. Those who have tried true, bona fide, quality CBD irrevocably love it and many testimonials are heart-warming.
However, retail prices have moved relatively little from 2019 levels.
This has been assisted with trendy packaging and offering smaller or watered-down products for lower prices.
The key to purchasing for consumers is to do some simple arithmetic.
Ask the question: How much are you paying for the CBD in that product?
Divide the milligrams on the label into the price to find the true cost per milligram.
For example, Peace River CBD sells a 1000 mg tincture for $29.95. 29.95/1000 = .02995 per milligram or less than 3 cents/mg. By comparison, another product might be $24.95 but it may only have 350 mg of CBD. 24.95/350 = .0713 per mg or over 7 cents/mg.
Go by the math and not by the price! At a 33mg dosage per day, the Peace River tincture will last you a month, while the example product would last you roughly 11 days.
So why do CBD prices remain so inflated near levels when CBD was relatively rare? I’ll let those retailers answer that.
The Amazon Scam
The elephant in retail, however, is always Amazon.
Who doesn’t look to Amazon nowadays as their first choice for online shopping? Enter a search for CBD and you’ll find somewhere around 7 pages of products – tinctures, gel caps, gummies, balm, patches, and more, all at very “reasonable” prices.
But here’s the catch: Amazon (and eBay) prohibits the sale of all CBD products!
Amazon Restricted Products – “Listings for products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are prohibited, including but not limited to: Full spectrum hemp oil, Rich hemp oil, Products that have been identified as containing CBD by LegitScript.”
No one of these products on Amazon will say “CBD” on the label. They will say: Hemp Extract, Hemp Oil, Rich in Omegas 3 6 9, Organic Hemp Concentrate, Premium Hemp Extract, and so on. They also try to mimic true CBD labels by saying 1,000 mg or 50,000 mg, but never state milligrams of… what?
The muscle and joint topical products will have numbers like 300,000 or 450,000 printed boldly on the label (how can you go wrong with something that has big, bold numbers like that!?) but as a consumer, I’ve no clue what that refers to. Those topical products will be blended with turmeric, arnica, lidocaine, or trolamine salicylate (which is essentially Aspercreme).
This is why, if you are shopping for CBD products, never shop on Amazon. You’ll end up getting scammed and ending up with snake oil. Instead, shop with real retailers of CBD products like Peace River, and be sure to do your research.
Shopping for CBD Lessons
Lesson #1: Quality! Be sure to check if the seller lets you see their products’ Certificate of Analysis (COA) to indicate purity. What certifications (GMP or FDA) does the manufacturer have for their lab so you know this wasn’t made in a bucket in the garage or barn.
Lesson #2: Value! Do the simple arithmetic on a simple calculator; divide the price by the milligrams to find your true cost per milligram. CBD can’t do you any good if you can’t afford to use it. CBD can’t do you any good if you can’t afford to take a proper dosage – or afford to take it as often as you need it.
Lesson #3: The Amazon Test! If the product doesn’t say CBD, it is not CBD!
Tom Schenk is CEO and Co-Founder of Peace River CBD.