5 Ways to Recognize High-Grade CBD Hemp Oil & Prevent Getting Ripped Off

Understand the good from the bad
Jeff Yauck Jeff Yauck / Updated on June 9, 2019

CBD hemp oil

The 2014 legalization of high-grade CBD hemp oil (as long as it contains less than 0.3% THC), means the market has exploded in the last couple of years and will continue to grow at an astounding rate. A few years ago, the CBD oil industry was effectively worthless, but in 2015 it earned $202 million, and in 2016 the market grew to $688 million! By 2021, some financial estimations say that it could be worth $3 billion!

While this is unquestionably exciting news, it is still worth keeping in mind that the cannabis industry is a relatively unregulated market. Admittedly it is not quite like the ‘Wild West’ of 2014 and 2015, when a host of ‘hustlers’ tried to make a quick buck by selling low-quality rubbish and passing it off as high-grade CBD hemp oil. Nonetheless, it is still wise to do your research and find the best products, because CBD oil isn’t cheap! In this article, we provide you with five excellent ways to spot top-notch CBD oil and differentiate it from garbage – and believe us, there’s A LOT of garbage out there.

1 – Check the Color of CBD Hemp Oil

A surprising number of people are blissfully unaware that CBD hemp oil comes in varying degrees of strength and quality. It goes without saying that the oil must be extracted via the supercritical and/or subcritical CO2 extraction method, but that still doesn’t necessarily mean the oil will be pure.

Generally speaking, there are three types of CBD oil:

  • Raw: This type of oil is almost black in appearance (or dark green) because once it has been extracted from the raw hemp material, no further purification processes have been implemented. Therefore, your oil will contain terpenes and chlorophyll along with other parts of the plant (which is a good thing).
  • Decarboxylated: Decarboxylated CBD oils are similar to Raw CBD oil except for the fact that the active compounds have undergone the ‘decarboxylation’ process. In the raw plant material, both THC and CBD exist as acidic molecules (THC-A and CBD-A, respectively), but the chemical process of decarboxylation “drops” the acid, which (some claim) improves bioavailability. Appearance-wise these are also unfiltered oils, and have a dark green or black color similar to the raw tinctures.
  • Filtered: This is the CBD oil that most manufacturers make, and that most people consume. It comes in a lovely light golden color, and has undergone both decarboxylation and filtering processes, removing the parts of the plant that were left over from the initial extraction process. If you want to look at things in a more ‘translatable’ way, high-grade CBD hemp oil is like a fine brandy or vodka, insofar as it has been triple distilled for purity!

medical grade cbd oil

2 – Where is the CBD Hemp Oil Sourced From?

You will notice that the majority of high-grade CBD hemp oil comes from Colorado or Denmark, although there are other locations that grow extremely high quality hemp (including Kentucky, Germany, the Netherlands, and other Scandinavian countries). The most important factors include where the plant was grown, how it was grown, and the species of cannabis (whether it’s a Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, or Cannabis ruderalis variety). The soil, climate and even the plants growing in the farm “next door” all affect the quality of the product.

Alos, it is crucial to remember that cannabis is a ‘hyperaccumulator.’ This means it absorbs contaminants from the soil (and the air) that it grows in with ease. If you choose CBD sourced from hemp that was grown under “non-food” conditions, you could be consuming toxic substances.

European hemp farms (and in particular German-certified farms) are notorious for having some of the strictest agricultural regulations in the world, so you might say that they represent the “gold standard” in terms of the purest, highest quality raw CBD material. Also, remember that all organic hemp grown in Europe adheres to European Union standards, which are far stricter than in the United States.

3 – Is the CBD Hemp Oil Tested by an Independent Third Party?

Since cannabis is not an FDA-approved food or drug, independent third-party testing is NOT a mandatory requirement in the CBD oil industry. As such, would-be hustlers have no incentive to pay for it (which would ultimately reveal their scam). On the other hand, reputable companies routinely pay thousands of dollars to use independent third party labs, which verify the contents of their products in terms of both purity and potency.

For some of the larger CBD companies out there, the overall cost of third-party testing easily runs into the six figure area. Clearly, only a company with high-grade CBD hemp oil will pay such a large sum to prove the validity of their marketing pitch. Most organizations that pay for the tests proudly post their Certificate of Verification on their website, so be on the lookout for this when you’re shopping around (or if you don’t see one, feel free to call the company directly to ask them where you can view their lab reports).

Obviously, do your research however and make sure that the third party lab is real, and not some fictitious operation made up to fool customers. A simple online search for the analytics lab should take you directly to their website.

Finally, it’s important to understand that third party labs test the cannabinoid profile of the oil, along with any potential contamination. Quality certificates will tell you the percentage of CBD, terpenes, and other phytocannabinoids found in the oil, as well as if there are any pesticides, heavy metals or other microbiological contaminants. In simple terms, independent third-party lab testing means there is nowhere to hide for low-quality CBD oil producers.

4 – Beware of the THC Content

CBD hemp oil must contain less than 0.3% THC for it to be legal to sell and ship across the United States as a food supplement. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana, but industrial hemp naturally contains very low levels of it. CBD, on the other hand, is non-psychoactive and helps relieve pain and deal with a host of other medical issues, without getting you ‘high.’

high cbd hemp oil

The trouble is, some manufacturers are less than open about the full ingredients of their CBD hemp oil. As a rule of thumb, it is best not to risk purchasing any oil which doesn’t provide you with the full list of ingredients, especially the THC and CBD content. CBD can counteract the negative effects of THC in any case, especially if the ratio is 4:1 or greater. However, the bigger issue is drug testing.

Even at 0.3% THC, there is a possibility of failing a company drug test if you consume a large amount of CBD oil. As such, you should be looking for products with a THC content as close to zero as possible. There are a handful of brands that sell CBD oils with practically no THC whatsoever. If nothing else, though, shoot for a brand that claims a THC content of less than 0.05%.

5 – The Whole Plant Extract & Nothing But

Just to make things more confusing, there are oils made from Whole Plant Hemp, and oils made from Isolated Hemp! Whole plant hemp is associated with high-grade CBD oil and is extracted from the seeds, stem, and stalk of the plant. Not only does the oil contain CBD, but it also has a full range of other natural cannabis compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and “secondary” cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBG-A.

Research shows that CBD oil containing the full cannabis spectrum is more effective than its Isolated Hemp counterpart. Isolated hemp relates to products containing the stock of the hemp plant only. The creators of these products remove all the fatty acids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant’s Trichomes.

The CBD ‘crystals’ are the only remaining component, and the end product resembles a white powder – CBD in its purest form. Most experts agree that these products tend to degrade the synergistic properties of the hemp plant, and as CBD isolate contains fewer cannabinoids than whole plant extracts, a far larger amount of hemp is required to extract a relatively small level of the isolate. For all practical purposes, a high quality full-spectrum oil is much preferred to a CBD isolate.

Final Thoughts on How to Identify High-Grade CBD Hemp Oil

There is an enormous amount of research which shows the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. This versatile marijuana compound is a potential game changer in the medical field as it produces no high, but in order to receive its true therapeutic potential, you will need to sort out the high-grade CBD oils from the host of low quality garbage that’s out there.

Although the FDA is cracking down on companies that sell low-quality oil, never assume that a company with a professional-looking website and a valid marketing campaign is the real deal. Instead, play detective and make sure it is golden filtered oil that’s grown in the right location, tested by an independent third party (with an exceptionally low level of THC), and that it is made from the whole plant. Nothing else is worth your money.

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  • Full-spectrum Hemp extract
  • No pesticides, solvents or chemical fertilizers
  • 3rd party laboratory tested
  • Price Range ($48.00 – $139.00)
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  • Maximum potency and purity
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  • Full-Spectrum Extract (Made in USA)
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  • Contain no artificial flavors or preservatives
  • Prices range ($48-$125)
  • CBDPure uses a chemical-free CO2 extraction process
  • 3rd party laboratory tested
  • Certified hemp grown in Colorado
  • Price Range ($29.99 – $79.99)
  • Full-spectrum Extract
  • Derived from Non-GMO Hemp
  • Ship to all 50 States
  • Price Range ($49.00 – $299.00)
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  • Organic hemp CO2 extract tincture
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  • Organic hemp CO2 extract tincture
  • Available in Cinnamint & Natural
  • Full-spectrum extract
  • Price Range ($39 - $249)

  1. Mario Claxton
    Check for FDA or sort

    I always check for third party stamp if I am to buy some CBD. And also when I got from CBD Pure, it was for the reason that they offer a 90 day money back guarantee, so I thought they must be authentic. And true their oil is very good.

  2. David South

    This is SO helpful – i had no idea that quality could be recognized through the color of the CBD oil! Will save lots of people from wasting their money

  3. Mandy Tee
    Reply to Ann Kohanow

    Ann Kohanow, I believe the cbd vape products are more for anxiety than pain, as most of them contain only cbd isolate in a pg/vg base as opposed to being full-spectrum oils. Vaping actual oil isn’t considered to be a good idea and could actually be dangerous. There are some full-spectrum vape eliquids out there but I suspect they use chemical additives to keep the hemp extracts homogenized so I personally choose not to buy them as there’s not enough evidence to prove they are safe to vape. Standard isolate eliquid does help my anxiety and chills me out, for pain, I use an oral full spectrum extract. Hope this helps x

  4. Mary
    Strength of CBD oil

    I have bought CBD oil from Holland and Barrett . Does anyone know if this is a good oil. It says 5% on the bottle . Does that mean it’s a mild one.? It is golden on colour . I want it for anxiety . Hope someone can enlighten me .

  5. Ann Kohanow

    I am looking for a great cbd vape oil. Does anyone have any really good recommendations? I bought 1 bottle, 30ml 1000mg from Hempure. It has been 3 weeks now and nothing. Just feel like I am vaping to be vaping. I sent a question to them and some guy answered me back. His response was he was sorry for my experience but have spoken to many people that it has worked well on. He went on to say some people require a higher dose while others work better for a lower dose. He also went to explain the reason it might not be working yet was because my endocannabinoid has a imbalance and compared it to like taking a multivitamin. That it might take 2-3 months before it could work on me. To me this sounds like BS. As he was wanting me to take advantage of 35% off right now and maybe try a tincture or another mg of the vape oil. I just dont know if I should believe in this. Any suggestions or comments about this? And please any suggestions on companies that have really good cbd vape oil.


  6. Stanley Pennington
    More effective

    It is always advisable to go for some premium brands if you want to try CBD. This way you will save yourself from any unwanted allergies or reactions to CBD, and most of the people take CBD for medicinal use. So buying good quality can be both, more effective and fast effective.

  7. Teri Castro
    CTFO oil and pain cream WORKS

    I use CBD 500mg of 10x Pure and it’s amazing for my pain, lowered my cholesterol, my tryglicerides, no longer on my Ambien for sleep and I sleep all night, my doctor has also weened me off my Zoloft. I’m on zero big pharma drugs a year after starting CBD oil for the above and for my spinal pain from a 4000ft roll down a mountain skiing on hard ice. I’m off of opiods that only put me in more pain. Need a link to try what I’m using which also has a 60 day empty bottle money back guarantee on all products. I’m a happy camper 😉

    1. JoAnn Krisch
      help for pain

      What brand are you using? Can i have the link?

    2. Beth Ann Jackman
      Needed info for my husbands sore back.

      I’m interested.

    3. Andrea Wasielewski
      help for my pain

      thank you so much for sharing
      this is a hard decision because of not knowing each product
      I need to be out of pain with my fibro and arthritis

      could I have the link for this product?

  8. Amanda
    Feeling sick after taking CBD oil

    Have you ever felt sick to your stomach after taking CBD oil?

  9. Mia Laurent
    The color of CBD oil will show out the thickness?

    Is the color of the CBD oil more transparent, the thinner the oil?

  10. Philicity
    Advice please

    I have some Sativa / Indica plants and I want to make balm and oral infusion for our personal use. What is the suggested proportion of decarboxilated cannabis to coconut oil ?
    My husband is a prostrate cancer survivor and I am a breast cancer survivor. We want to use it orally and also on our sun damaged skin.

  11. denise johnston

    I am beginning the process of researching CBD and the processing, carrier oils, etc. I was approached by Hempworx but they are short on info and won’t share any labeling regarding the products. Am I on the right track. Has any heard of Hempworx?

    I am also bipolar/depression/anxiety and Type 2 diabetic – will CBD interfere with any of my medicinal treatments. I have been asked by a family member whether CBD messes with the production of serotonin (that it acts like predisone).

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