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The Importance of Learning How To Read A CBD Product Label

June 4, 2021 in General Education

CBD Product Labeling

The CBD market is booming. In 2020, approximately $5 billion in CBD retail sales were generated with a prediction of nearly $17 billion by 2025. Due to the lack of federal regulations of CBD products in the US, there are a lot of sketchy products for sale online, over the counter and even at recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries. It is more important than ever that CBD consumers know what to look for when purchasing products. The first step is learning how to read a CBD label. In this article I will explain all the important information that should be on every CBD product you purchase.

CBD Labeling Requirements

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a list of all the ingredients contained in every CBD product is required to appear on the information panel of the outer label. Unfortunately, with no federal regulations in place, the restrictions on CBD and its labeling requirements are left up to each state which varies enormously. Here is a link to the status of CBD in all 50 states. The most comprehensive labeling requirements can be found in state-licensed medical and recreational cannabis systems.

Be aware that there are manufacturers whose labels try to imitate those of federal dietary ingredient labels. Even more suspicious are those that don’t even try to appear legitimate with labels with next to no information. More often than not, the information contained on the labels are not inaccurate.

There are hundreds of CBD companies that have made misleading statements about the contents of their product. Either it contains more or less CBD than is listed on the label or it fails to disclose that it contains solvents or toxins. Others have made false medical claims that the product can treat or prevent disease. The FDA has issued dozens of warnings to these companies. The pandemic has made things even worse in which companies claim their CBD product cures COVID-19. In those cases, their websites were forced to be removed.

Steer clear of vague wording on labels such as hemp extract or hemp oil which does not assure the presence of actual CBD in the product. Hemp seed oil contains no CBD.

Research The CBD Company

The first thing you should research is the company name and their website URL which should appear on the label. One of the most important pieces of information on a company website is whether or not their third-party test of their products is available to consumers. If the company does not lab test or that information is not available, do not purchase the product. The website should also clearly explain how their CBD product was extracted. CO2 extraction is the cleanest and most environmentally friendly method. Solvent distillation can leave a harmful residue on your product.

Third-Party Certification

Third-party certification assures the consumer that the final product is compliant with specific standards for quality, safety and performance. This is achieved through review of the manufacturing process by an independent organization. Third-party certification is required for recreational and medical cannabis products in legal states.

Certificate of Analysis (COA)

You should examine the Certificate of Analysis which is the document from an accredited lab that lists all the cannabinonoids and their concentrations that a product contains. It also includes the results of testing for toxins, pesticides and contaminants. Here is the link to How To Read A COA. Be aware that lab quality varies and that some companies use old COAs for current products.

QR Code

Scan the QR code on the product to download the COA.

CBD Dosage

Until the FDA regulates CBD products, there is no set standard dose of CBD. Recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries recommend one dose of CBD to contain 10mg. It is important to understand that the desired dose varies for each individual and depends on several factors such as the medical condition being treated, body weight, metabolism, delivery method, tolerance level, etc.

A CBD label should provide the following information:

  • Total milligrams (mg) in the bottle
  • Serving size
  • Mgs/serving
  • Number of servings in the bottle
Sources of CBD

There are three types of CBD products:

  • Full Spectrum CBD includes trace levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, including a maximum of 0.3% THC
  • Broad spectrum CBD includes trace levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, without THC
  • CBD isolate consists of nearly pure CBD crystals with no other cannabinoids and terpenes

THC Content

The label should clearly tell you how much THC, if any, is in their product. It legally can contain up to 0.3% THC. If there is zero THC, that information should appear on the label.

Other Important Labeling Information

Batch and Lot Number

Every CBD product in the state-licensed recreational and medical cannabis system contains a batch number and a lot number, telling you when and where it was manufactured. If there is a recall, it is easy to identify if your product is affected.

Manufacturing Date

Like any cannabis product, CBD breaks down over time. The manner in which you store it is crucial in maintaining its potency. The manufacturing date lets you know exactly when your product was made.
Both CBD edibles and tinctures should be used within months rather than years. The fresher the better in the matter of high-CBD flower.

License numbers

Manufacturers of state-licensed cannabis products are required to list their license number on the label. Most states allow consumers to look up licensees using their number.

Additional Ingredients

Apart from CBD isolate or raw CBD oil, most CBD products contain other ingredients. Tinctures are mixed with alcohol, oil or glycerin. Gummies typically contain glycerin, colors and flavors. Make sure to check them out for their quality and potential allergens. Avoid additives in CBD vape pens such as thickeners, flavorings, essential oils and vitamins. Colorado plans to ban PEG, MCT oil and tocopheryl-acetate. Washington has already banned tocopheryl-acetate. Other states are expected to follow.

Storage Instructions

Some CBD labels may also tell you how best to store your product.

Warning Labels

CBD is known to have interactions with certain prescription medications.
Read the warnings and disclaimers and act accordingly.

Being an informed CBD consumer will provide you with a safe, beneficial product and save you money!

Sources:, How To Read A CBD Label, David Downs, Nov. 21, 2019, How To Read CBD Labels: A Crash Course on CBD Labeling, Sabina King, CBD Labeling Requirements, Melanie Neff, July 20, 2020, How To Read A COA and Why It’s So Important, Elena Schmidt, Feb. 26, 2020, Is CBD legal in Your State? Check This Chart To Find Out, Bruce Barcott, Nov. 22, 2019

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