One of the most common questions we see is, “Is CBD Illegal?” The possession and consumption of CBD is legal but it depends on where it comes from. This is where the difference between hemp and cannabis comes in–the distinction is nothing more than a legal one.
Cannabis Vs Hemp Oil
Cannabis itself is a genus of flowering plant – in other words the scientific name for the plant. Hemp is bred and grown for the industrial use of fiber and seed, which is why hemp must legally contain below 0.3% THC – so that it stays below the threshold of inducing psychoactivity.
The Answer: CBD is legal as long as it is derived from hemp which is non-psychoactive and by definition, contains less than 0.3% THC.
If the CBD is derived from traditional cannabis (that tests above 0.3% THC), then it is not federally legal – even if your state has approved CBD programs in place. Does this mean you’ll get in trouble? No, especially not if you’re complying with the CBD legislation in your state – 44 of 50 states have legal CBD programs in place.
If the CBD is derived from industrial hemp (that tests below 0.3% THC), then it is federally legal for you to possess and consume the product. This is why it’s so important to know where the starting material is sourced when purchasing CBD products. This distinction is also why hemp-derived CBD is legal to ship to all 50 states – even stores like Whole Foods have begun stocking the stuff.
Why All the Confusion?
In short, there have been contradictory rulings, legislation, and statements made from various government organizations. In 2014, President Obama signed the Farm Bill of 2013 into law. Section 7606 of the act defines industrial hemp as distinct from marijuana and authorizes the cultivation of hemp for industrial and research purposes. This made it pretty clear that the cultivation of industrial hemp in the United States was and is legal. Although, the bill never addressed CBD specifically.
This bill was later reaffirmed by the 2018 Farm Bill, which was signed into law by President Trump and defined industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity distinct from marijuana with the full legal status of such a commodity.
Two years after the original law, in 2016, the DEA published a rule stating that all cannabis extracts, including CBD, are considered Schedule I substances. The rule stirred confusion regarding its application to CBD derived from hemp. Businesses and consumers demanded answers and it was challenged in court almost immediately. The businesses argued that the rule skirted established federal process – only Congress has the authority to create a statute.
Ultimately DEA spokesperson Russ Baer was forced to clarify: “If the products are derived from the non-psychoactive part of the marijuana plant, then you’re talking a non-controlled substance.”
Like many of the issues surrounding the cannabis industry, there is conflict regarding CBD legality at both the state and federal levels. But one thing is clear, the DEA’s 2016 rule was meant to target commercial business selling these products, not the end-consumers. Essentially as long as there are legitimate businesses selling tested CBD products that ensure safety and legality, you as the consumer have nothing to worry about.
A Quick Note About CBD & Drug Testing
If drug testing is a part of the conditions of your employment, you might be concerned about the potential of CBD to cause you to test positive for THC. This isn’t an unfounded concern. Avoiding full-spectrum products containing trace amounts of THC will ensure you reduce the risk of any uncomfortable conversations with your employer.
Legality Of Mailing And Buying CBD Online
If you live in a state where cannabis is illegal, you might have a difficult time acquiring legitimate CBD oil from a retail location. Most people turn to the Internet in an effort to buy CBD online, and typically find a range of stores — all claiming to sell the best stuff and ship it right to your house.
The problem is that there are no testing regulations for these products, so the effectiveness and safety of many items on the market has not been proven. Therefore, the onus falls on the manufacturer, to be honest about how much CBD is actually in the oil, where the starting material was grown and how it’s been extracted.
The FDA actually issued a warning for making false claims of effectiveness and medicinal benefits because so many illegitimate companies sell snake oil marketed as CBD that doesn’t do anything. Despite all these challenges, if you know what you’re buying, hemp-derived CBD oil as a product itself is not illegal, according to federal law.
Yes, CBD is legal to purchase online — as long as it is derived from industrial hemp and not marijuana.
Is it Legal to Ship CBD?
Yes, companies that comply with the 2014 Farm Bill and its 2018 update can ship their products anywhere in the United States. The 2014 bill differentiates marijuana from industrial hemp and permits the cultivation of hemp within the United States, and the 2018 version reaffirms this distinction in more concrete terms that distinguish industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity, not a federally scheduled controlled substance.
Is it Legal to Ship Edibles in the Mail?
Yes, companies that comply with the above can ship edibles as well.
Which Companies are Compliant?
Companies growing industrial hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC are in compliance with the law. The DEA has acknowledged that CBD is legal if it’s made from the non-psychoactive part of the cannabis plant (the mature hemp stalk) because that part of the plant falls outside the Controlled Substance Act’s definition of marijuana.
Interested in some of the legislative history of Obama’s Farm Bill, Trump’s follow-up, and the subsequent DEA comments on the Controlled Substances Act? Read our article on the legal background of cannabis vs hemp oil.
Buyer’s Guide To Legal And Organic CBD
At The CBD Encyclopedia, we have been involved in Colorado’s hemp industry since its inception, so we’ve seen the expansion from high-quality medicine to social commodity firsthand. Investment dollars have rushed into various sectors of the industry, and the primary focus is ROI. When people see green it’s easy to get excited and focus on the numbers instead of the patients.
Of all the companies we’ve interacted with and tested, Joy Organics has been the standout. Its vertically integrated, Colorado-based facility is as impressive as its product line. Joy Organics uses organic, non-GMO hemp to extract its CBD products, from tinctures to topicals to vape products to softgel capsules.
We’ve personally tested their product line, to great success, and we’ve reviewed the independent batch test results to confirm their high cannabinoid content.
There are literally hundreds of CBD retailers – but only a few sell CBD products with any medical efficacy. There are some very important questions to ask before deciding where to buy:
Where was it grown? Is it organic?
In the United States – all products should derived from organic hemp grown in the United States. Hemp grown in the European Union (EU) is acceptable ONLY if it is grown using organic methods and the company can prove the lack of pesticides, mold, and heavy metals through current test results (see below).
Watch Out For: Hemp grown in China. Even in countries with agricultural regulations, the list of approved pesticides is far from safe. Thus you are really relying on the specific company’s ethical standards when it comes to hemp cultivation.
The reason this is such a big deal with hemp when compared to other plants, is that hemp is a dynamic accumulator plant. Dynamic accumulator is a term used to describe plants that gather minerals – both good and bad – from the surrounding soil and store them in its tissues.
So if you’re growing a hemp plant with petroleum-based pesticides in soil that contains heavy metals…you’re inevitably going to have a hemp plant containing both toxic pesticides and heavy metals. This is why many people have poor experiences when first trying CBD – you buy your vegetables organically, why not your hemp? The presence of these toxins is not regulated by any agency and they will end up in your CBD oil if you don’t purchase from the correct company.
Vertical Integration is the only way to ensure top to bottom quality, consistency, and safety. All hemp should be organically grown on-site and final the extracted products should be produced in-house with sustainable practices. This is important because it gives the company full control over all the inputs in their tinctures, salves, and other products.
Watch Out For: Companies that won’t or can’t tell you where their plant material is sourced. If they wholesale the material from a farm, can they ensure the product is free of pesticides and mold via a laboratory test?
Does the company provide test results?
Each batch of flower AND finished product should be tested by a state certified testing facility for potency, legality and safety. These test results should also be made available to any patient that requests them. These tests should certify 3 things: the amount of CBD contained in the product, the amount of THC in the product (the starting hemp plant material must test below 0.3%), and the lack of mold or toxic pesticides.
Watch Out For: Companies that do not have test results or refuse to give them to customers. Also be wary of companies who only test one batch of finished product and then assume that all future batches will be the same – big mistake. Hemp is a product of nature and thus, no two batches will ever be identical – even in the most regulated environment. The company must provide you test results for the actual product you intend to purchase as well as the plant material used to make it – otherwise you are jeopardizing your safety and the medical efficacy of the product.
Organic ethanol wash – this is one of the oldest and most natural way to derive a full spectrum extract from the cannabis plant. Critical CO2 extractions are also acceptable and produce a full spectrum CBD extract. A full spectrum extract strips all the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant – in this case, without the need to use any toxic hydrocarbons. Ethanol washes and CO2 extractions produce a CBD extract that is 100% safe and solvent-free. Full spectrum extracts utilize the whole plant which results in an extract with greater medical efficacy than isolating and administering CBD, for instance, on its own.
Watch Out For: Companies who won’t disclose their extraction method or utilize hydrocarbons like butane and propane. These substances are toxic in high amounts and even with proper purging, most hydrocarbon extracts contain residual solvent. Other extraction methods do not result in a full spectrum extract – meaning they were not able to extract all of the beneficial compounds from the hemp plant (i.e. you don’t get the full range of benefits).
What carrier substance is used?
Ingestible CBD oil should be composed of coconut MCT oil and full spectrum hemp extract (the part that contains the actual CBD). It’s important that the carrier oil contains Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), like coconut oil, because it is easier for the body to digest. Remember that cannabinoids are best delivered to the body in either fat or alcohol as a carrier.
Watch Out For: Companies who use cheap oil carriers that don’t contain MCTs. Also look out for products that don’t clearly and accurately state the ingredients used. It’s important you as a consumer can identify all inputs – especially if the product is being used for medical or therapeutic purposes.
What Exactly Is In the Product?
Any CBD vape oil you purchase should consist of a very short list of ingredients: a carrier oil (such as MCT oil, hemp oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil) and CBD or hemp extract (depending on how the company labels its CBD concentrate), with a possible ingredient or two added for flavoring, whether it be a proprietary terpene blend or a natural or artificial flavoring.
Another possible addition is vegetable glycerin, a common thinning agent that has not been shown to be harmful when vaporized. That’s it. Anything else should raise an eyebrow.
Watch Out For: Anything containing propylene glycol or polyethylene glycol. These compounds have been associated with the formation of toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, benzene, and acetaldehyde that can cause cancer and other disease in humans. Steer clear of any product intended to be inhaled that contains these ingredients.
This is something we’re very particular about, and for good reason: propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol are two common thinning agents used by many manufacturers to ease the flow of the finished product. While both of these ingredients are generally recognized as safe for topical application and oral consumption, multiple studies have shown that they become toxicwhen heated to the temperatures required for vaporization, and especially in high-temperature vaporizers designed to create big clouds of vapor (you know, the popular kind!). For this reason, we avoid all vape products containing propylene glycol, CBD or otherwise.
- No phone number
- No indication of where plant material is sourced
- Can’t speak to a real person – even via email
- No test results
- Not organic
- No clear indication of dosage (or of which cannabinoid)
How To Choose The Best CBD Product For You
CBD is growing in popularity among all kinds of people with all kinds of symptoms, and for good reason. CBD has been demonstrated to help treat a variety of conditions without any of the mind-altering effects of THC. The non-psychoactive cannabinoid possesses anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic, hypnotic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, and neuroprotective benefits, according to mounting research.
While CBD may be helpful to many people for symptom management, it can also be confusing or even intimidating to find the right products for you. This is because there are literally thousands of different products from hundreds of brands, each making different (and sometimes outlandish) claims about their ability to heal. In such a crowded market, it can be hard to choose the best CBD product for what ails you.
So, how do you navigate the crowded field of CBD products to find the best products for you and your body? Not to worry, we’re here to guide you each step of the way. Here, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how to choose the best CBD product(s) for your symptoms, body, and wellness goals.
Before beginning in earnest, we open with a brief discussion of how CBD works with your body’s natural processes. We’ll then give some general guidelines for choosing the best CBD product for what ails you, then discuss individual CBD product types in detail. We’ll illuminate the types of symptoms each CBD product type might be best for, including tips and tricks to get the most from your dose. We’ll also drop a few product recommendations to help you in your search.
How CBD Behaves In Your Body
CBD has been shown to have widespread positive regulatory effects on the body’s processes. In layman’s terms, this means that CBD acts to help reduce extremes, supporting and improving homeostasis. It does this by interacting with your endocannabinoid system, a system of receptors and chemical messengers throughout your body.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system’s receptors to influence different processes in the body. It has been demonstrated to soothe and prevent seizures, alleviate pain, calm anxiety, ease depression, and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
This anti-inflammatory action is at the heart of most of CBD’s health effects. This is because inflammation is a common thread in many different diseases. In fact, some researchers believe that all disease is rooted in inflammation, called the Inflammation Theory of Disease. CBD reduces the severity of symptoms by alleviating the inflammation in different parts of your body.
Because the receptors CBD acts on are located throughout your body, there isn’t really a system that CBD can’t be used to help regulate. It can even be applied to the skin for fast-acting relief at the site of pain. While CBD acts consistently across different body symptoms, it may take different lengths of time to become effective depending on your dosing method.
How to Choose the Best CBD Product for Your Body
CBD behaves consistently throughout the body, but can be absorbed a couple of different ways to achieve these effects. This is the key difference between all the types of otherwise-equal CBD products. Onset time and duration are major considerations when choosing a CBD product for your needs and symptoms.
Generally speaking, vapor products and raw hemp flower have the fastest onset time of any CBD product. This is because these products deliver CBD to the bloodstream quickly through the soft tissues of the lungs, providing systemic relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and other conditions. Relief is fast: people usually feel better within 15 minutes of using one of these products.
Topicals also tend to take effect quickly (within 15-30 minutes) because of their interaction with endocannabinoid receptors in the skin. This property can make topical CBD very useful to provide targeted relief at the source of discomfort. It’s also good for alleviating sudden symptoms like muscle spasms or cramping.
CBD tinctures and oils tend to take effect within an hour or so, depending on how they are formulated as well as how they are taken. Water-soluble formulas often have a quicker onset time than traditional oil-based tinctures, but relief can be accelerated by holding the product in the mouth as long as possible instead of swallowing it. This allows the tincture to be absorbed by the soft tissues of the mouth and makes tinctures and oils a very versatile choice.
Edibles like gummies, softgels, and capsules have the longest onset time of any CBD product. This is because they are absorbed through the digestive tract which, as anyone who has ever taken a THC edible can tell you, causes a highly variable absorption rate. While it may take up to two hours to feel relief with CBD edibles, they also provide long-lasting symptom relief. Many people report being using CBD edibles and softgels for all-day comfort, making these products ideal for chronic conditions.
CBD Softgels, Capsules, & Edibles
Long-lasting CBD products like edibles, capsules, and softgels are our favorite way to achieve consistent relief that lasts for hours. Since they’re absorbed through the digestive system, these products tend to take longer to absorb compared to other delivery methods. That long onset time, however, is also accompanied by hour after hour of comfort due to the long-acting nature of CBD absorbed via the stomach and intestines.
If you like the idea of long-lasting comfort and wellness support but aren’t so into the thought of waiting two hours to feel better, we suggest pairing an edible dose of CBD with something that takes effect a bit quicker. For immediate relief, consider a vape pen, a bowl of organic hemp flower, or a topical CBD product to get the ball rolling. You might also take a look at tinctures, especially water-based formulas that are easier for your body to absorb.
We especially like edible CBD for management of chronic conditions that don’t often have acute symptoms. These products are our favorite for preventing flare-ups and managing low-grade but persistent symptoms. While they all fall into the same category of effectiveness, edible CBD products are potentially useful because of their diversity — they quite literally offer something for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of classic softgels or enjoy the tasty treat offered by a flavorfulgummy, there is an edible CBD product for you.
We especially like the softgels from Joy Organics, but we’re also fond of the vegan capsules by cbdMD. If gummies are more your thing, you might consider the tasty vegan gummies offered by cbdMD. Made with tapioca starch instead of gelatin, you can feel confident treating your symptoms without supporting animal cruelty. We also like the CBD peach rings from Seabedee(or the sour gummy bears, if you’re so inclined) for a tasty and effective systemic dose of organic CBD.
Tinctures & CBD Oils
CBD tinctures come in many different flavors, dosage strengths, and formulations. Unlike edibles, which must be absorbed in the stomach, tinctures offer a bit more flexibility in CBD dosing. They can be taken sublingually (dropped under the tongue and held there for a minute or two) or ingested orally by either swallowing immediately or mixing with food or beverages.
The versatility of tinctures makes them helpful in treating a wide range of symptoms, from pain and inflammation to fever to anxiety. They can also provide CBD newcomers more flexibility with their dosing. This makes it possible to “feel out” what dosing strategy works best for you without committing to multiple products immediately.
We enjoy the line of tinctures available from Joy Organics (the lemon flavor is our favorite!). We also like the traditional oil-based tinctures carried by cbdMD, which are available in a wide variety of flavors for all palates.
Taking tinctures sublingually can greatly accelerate their onset time — within 30 minutes for many, as opposed to over an hour in some cases. However, that rapid onset time comes at a bit of a price. Usually, the longer a product takes to set in, the longer its effects last.
Generally, water-soluble tinctures will take effect more quickly than oil-based CBD, though this may vary from person to person. We like using tinctures for balanced relief that acts relatively quickly and remains effective throughout our day. However, if you’re in need of immediate relief, you might consider CBD vape products or hemp flower.
CBD Vapor Products & Hemp Flower
When you’re in need of immediate relief from severe symptoms, there are few things better than a CBD vaporizer or a bowl of organic hemp flower. Unlike oral dosing methods, inhaled CBD is absorbed directly into the bloodstream through the tissues of the lungs. This delivery method provides near-instantaneous relief, though the effects will only last about 4-6 hours or so.
We prefer to inhale CBD when we need to alleviate acute symptoms. These might include spasms, pain, seizures, and other rapid-onset symptoms. Inhaled CBD in the form of a vape or bowl offers the added benefit of convenient dosing. While it’s less precise compared to oral methods, it is easier to discern whether or not you need more to feel better.
We love the vape pens and cartridges from Specktra, which come in a great variety of flavors and targeted for different purposes.
When reaching for hemp flower, we trust the organic buds from Canna Comforts. Created to look, smell, taste, and smoke just like cannabis without the high, the hemp flower from Canna Comforts is sure to provide soothing relief — with the quickness. Reach for a prerolled joint or palm wrap if you don’t have the time to load a bowl or roll your own.
Where to buy CBD Online: Our Favorite CBD Brands
The cannabis industry has been growing exponentially since legalization hit. With the excitement, new CBD brands have been popping up more than ever before making it difficult for consumers to find the best CBD brand for their needs. There is no shortage of snake oil products out there and companies looking to cash in likely leaving you to question: Which CBD brand is proven to work? Which is the best for my condition? Which CBD brand is best for a total beginner?
Our mission at Key to Cannabis has always been to bring you unbiased and honest product reviews on CBD brands we trust. We want to make your journey to discovering the best CBD brands as simple as possible. So far in 2020, we are quite impressed with the selection of CBD brands and products they offer. Check out some of our favorites below!
Most Innovative CBD Brand: FOCL
FOCL came on to the CBD market scene with a unique blend of products the brand has dubbed “wellness stacks.” With day– and nighttime-specific CBD capsules, as well as supplemental CBD oil drops, FOCL offers a balanced offering of CBD relief to get you energized for the day as well as ready for a relaxing slumber in the evening. FOCL partners with chemists, doctors, and other wellness experts to create diverse formulas that are completed with adaptogenic herbs, powerful mushrooms, and hand-chosen botanicals.
These unique blends take the CBD market in a totally new direction. Similar to how bodybuilders stack supplements to achieve total-body fitness, FOCL’s intuitive and advanced formulas help stack natural supplements to help consumers achieve total body wellness.
Best CBD Brand for Beginners: Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte’s Web is one of our favorite CBD brands, and for a good reason. We like to recommend this product for those just starting their CBD journey. Their website has an easy-to-use product finder, ideal for someone thinking about trying CBD for the first time. With a few simple questions you’ll be matched with suggestions tailored to your needs.
Charlotte’s Web product lineup is varied and includes creams, oil tinctures, extracts, capsules and gummies. Covering just about anyone’s preferences and needs. We also appreciate Charlotte’s Web transparency in listing their entire ingredient list on every product. You can even check out their updated lab results available online.
You’ll find that some products have other ingredients such as melatonin or L-theanine. These ingredients are actually naturally occurring in the human body but can act in tandem with CBD to amplify the effects you’re seeking. For example, their Sleep Gummies combine melatonin while their Calm Gummies use L-theanine (an amino acid that promotes relaxation). You can read more about Charlotte’s Web and their products here.
Most Specialized CBD Brand: Joy Organics
Have you ever visited a restaurant with a lengthy menu and question how good the restaurant really could be? The assumption being that these types of places didn’t specialize in anything. So they likely didn’t excel at anything either. Joy Organics is the polar opposite!
They have a limited range of THC-free, broad spectrum CBD products which makes our top 10 CBD brands year after year. Even though their selection might be limited, Joy Organics shorts nothing of quality. You know whatever product you are investing is will be tested and perfected every time. We have been a big fan of their vape pens, bath bombs and tinctures since day 1. Joy Organics also launched their new CBD gummies this year!
Best Hemp Flower Brand: Canna Comforts
Interested in getting your dose of CBD by a more classic method: raw hemp flower? Look no further than Canna Comforts. Canna Comforts grows all of their own raw hemp plans in the U.S. All of their hemp flower strains are compliant with the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, contain high levels of CBD, and provide full-spectrum benefits of other helpful cannabinoids.
Canna Comforts strains produce a nice, light body buzz without the heady psychoactive feeling of THC-strains. However, these flowers mix great with regular bud as well. They may even help alter a regular high to feel a bit more relaxing. We recommend checking out the Lifter strain if you’re looking for a high-CBD profile and Cherry if you’re interested in terps.
Best CBD Brand for Pets: Honest Paws
Honest Paws receives our vote for best CBD brand made just for pets. Known for their full-spectrum CBD extract and edible treats for your furry friends. Their products are designed according to your pet’s needs and levels of strength. Proper dosage is based on your animal’s weight but can increase according to specific conditions.
Products range from Peanut Butter treats. Flavors also reflect the specific need and purpose of the CBD treats. The coolest thing of all about Honest Paws? They make CBD products for all pets including dogs, cats and horses!
Most Affordable CBD Brand: The CBDistillery
CBDistillery is the best choice for CBD on a budget. They offer full-spectrum products made in the U.S. at some of the most reasonable prices available. We commend CBDistillery for not only their product pricing but their straight to the point labeling and consistency in dosage.
Every product also has a QR code directly on the container. With a quick scan you can instantly see the lab results of your product. The cost and precise labeling makes this an excellent choice for beginners too.
Most Interesting CBD Products: Hemp Bombs
Hemp Bombs definitely has some of the most unique applications of CBD available right now! If you’re interesting in exploring outside of extracts or capsules, Hemp Bombs has something to spice up your CBD routine.
Edible lovers will enjoy their wide selection of gummies, energy drink style CBD “shots” and lollipops. From CBD Tattoo Ointment to cold therapy cream for pain, even beard oil, there is something within the Hemp Bombs line that just about everyone can enjoy.
Most Scientific Approach: Ambary Gardens
Ambary Gardens doesn’t mess around when it comes to the science behind CBD. They use all their own hemp grown specifically for CBD production followed by a thorough testing process that occurs at their own in-house lab. Ambary Gardens’ strains are naturally low in THC and make some of the purest CBD products possible.
From tinctures to gel capsules, to specific products for conditions such as skin repair and muscle recovery. If you’re looking for a CBD isolate (only the CBD without any elements of the hemp flower) or a high potency, full spectrum extract, look no further.
Highest Potency CBD Brand: cbdMD
While there are plenty of brands that offer those products, cbdMD far exceeds the rest in its sheer potency. Their strongest oil contains a whopping 7500 mg of CBD (or 250 mg per serving). One product in particular, CBD Freeze Pain Roll On, will never go unnoticed for its potency and success.
Bonus: Linx Vapors High-end Vape Pens
Vaping is one of the most popular ways to consume CBD. When vaping CBD oil it is absorbed instantly thus offering immediate relief compared to other consumption methods. You will also experience the pure terpene flavor that is lost with other methods. So, if you enjoy vaping CBD why not go with the very best?
Linx Vapors offers some of the highest quality vape pens on the market right now with features such as ceramic atomizers (the piece that heats up the vape juice). Ceramic atomizers guarantee the flavor that you’re paying for is delivered without contamination.
Between the above ten companies, you should have no problems at all finding just the right solution for you. Whether you’re looking for raw hemp flower, a high potency extract or maybe just some nice treats for your pet, this list is a start into finding a product that works for you.
Where to Buy CBD: Drug Stores
With more and more people reaching for CBD to manage everything from chronic pain to cardiovascular disease, popular retailers are starting to stock CBD products on their shelves. It’s likely a matter of time before CBD, a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, enters the mainstream in earnest.
Signs of this popularization are evident on the shelves of major retailers, largely in the health and beauty industries. However, local drug stores are starting to get in on the action, too. A growing number of drug store chains carry CBD products on store shelves.
While the unclear legal status of CBD remains an obstacle for many national retailers, an increasing number of chain drug stores are stocking CBD in some states. Because of the patchy availability of CBD, finding which local drug stores carry CBD can be challenging. As a general rule, states with legal cannabis programs have more brick-and-mortar CBD buying options.
While CBD products aren’t quite mainstream yet, the tide is shifting that way quickly. Currently, CBD products are available in some capacity at each of the biggest national pharmacies. However, it isn’t quite that simple. Due to state restrictions and a lack of clarity at the federal level about the legal status of hemp, national chains sometimes face roadblocks to stocking CBD. For this reason, which local drug stores carry CBD depends largely on where you live.
Since all forms of hemp and marijuana remain illegal in South Dakota, Idaho, and Nebraska, you won’t be able to purchase CBD products of any kind in physical stores in these states. However, other states allow the sale of CBD in stores, though some have restrictions surrounding the licensing for would-be CBD retailers.
These restrictions are the main reason that CBD isn’t (yet) available nationwide. Think about it: CBD is a booming industry, and businesses of all types are eager to cash in. In order to do so, however, they have to work with state regulatory agencies to sell CBD and hemp products legally. Companies take different approaches to this (which we’ll discuss individually), and consequently offer different products.
There’s an additional complication to consider when looking for CBD at your local drug store too: you may not be able to find what you need. Most major retailers only carry topicals at this time, not tinctures or other consumables. This is largely due to unclear FDA regulation of CBD ingestibles, which muddy the legal waters of CBD sales for pharmacies.
Until the FDA decides to stop their nonsense (and we aren’t holding our breath there), you’re not likely to find CBD tinctures, gummies, or softgels consistently on drugstore shelves any time soon. However, that doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find which local drug stores carry CBD in your area — just that it may take some hunting.
The single largest pharmacy chain in the nation, CVS is one of the chains of drug stores carrying CBD products in a number of states. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas. The pharmacy giant is working continuously to make CBD available in more states across the nation.
CVS has elected to carry only CBD topicals at this time. We understand this (rather conservative) approach, whether or not we fully agree with it — they are a national retailer, after all. Don’t get it twisted, though; the store’s focus on topicals hasn’t stopped them from carrying a diverse array of formulas to suit a variety of needs and symptoms
While the selection of products varies from state to state and from store to store, CVS works with a variety of different CBD brands. These include brands we know and love, like PlusCBD Oil and Charlotte’s Web, that produce quality products at affordable prices. This gives us hope that CVS is sourcing their CBD products responsibly, focusing on quality over quantity.
That said, the ubiquitous drug store also has the quantity aspect covered pretty well, too. A cursory look at their selection of topical CBD products shows a little bit of everything. From pain creams to roll-ons to skincare products to hair and body treatments, CVS carries a little something for every need.
We appreciate this move on the pharmacy’s part. While they’re taking their time stocking every component of a complete CBD regimen, they appear to acknowledge the diverse potential of CBD. This awareness is reflected in the variety of the products they stock, which includes everything from high-dosage pain products to bath and body care items.
Another dynamo of the local pharmacy industry, Walgreens offers CBD products in nearly 1,500 stores across 18 states. These include Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Washington state. Walgreens continues to work with states to offer CBD in stores, and this list is likely to grow longer with time.
Like CVS, Walgreens has made the decision to limit their CBD selection to topical creams, sprays, and patches. This isn’t an outrageous stance, though we feel that the line the FDA and, consequently, major retailers appear to draw between topicals and edibles seems a bit, well, arbitrary. The company states that this is in the interest of offering a wider range of wellness products to their customers.
However, we should note that Walgreens is less open about the CBD products and brands compared to other retailers. Compared to other drug stores carry CBD, we aren’t quite convinced yet. We can’t help but cock an eyebrow at this: none of their CBD products are listed on their website, so there isn’t really any way of knowing what your store carries without showing up there in person.
We get it — get people in the door, and they’re more likely to buy since they’re already there and they want it now. That said, we’re a bit skeptical of this strategy. Rather than empowering buyers to make informed decisions, there’s something here that feels a bit disingenuous, sort of like they’re banking on people grabbing what’s available because they need it right then. This strategy doesn’t seem to account for product efficacy or quality, which makes us leery.
While we can’t speak to the CBD products offered at Walgreens, we feel a little weird about their strategy as it appears. As a group of people pretty devoted to increasing transparency, not being able to even view available products online feels kind of shady.
While it may be convenient, we aren’t sure how much to trust Walgreens. Since there isn’t clarity about the consistency of products from state to state (or even store to store), what’s true at our local pharmacy may not be true at another across town, or across state lines. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t go to Walgreens for CBD, but we are saying that we’d sure like more publicly available information about the products they carry.
A relative newcomer (and rather small player) in national CBD retail, Rite Aid launched a pilot program selling CBD in Oregon and Washington state. Since rolling out the pilot program in April of 2019, the company hasn’t yet voiced plans to expand the program to other states — but we think it’s likely they’ll eventually branch out across the nation. Beginning in legal states, Rite Aid is one of the growing number of drug stores carry CBD products.
Rite Aid has also decided to sell only topical CBD products and, frankly, had something rather puzzling to say about their stance. “At this point in time,” said Chief Operations Officer Bryan Everett, “we’re only offering the topical solutions of creams, lip balms, [and] lotions.”
That seems reasonable, but then Everett said something that was genuinely bewildering: “We won’t be carrying any of the injectables at any of our stores as part of the pilot.” Does the COO of Rite Aid actually think people are routinely injecting CBD? Is that how he thinks this works??
As CBD enthusiasts who have personally tested hundreds of hemp products, we can say with certainty that no company has ever pitched us an injectable form of CBD. Google was just as puzzled by Everett’s bizarre statement as we were: it asked, “did you mean ingestible CBD?” The few articles it did turn up for “injectable” used the term in relation to the potential of CBD to reduce overdose deaths and opioid dependence.
We’re hoping that Mr. Everett misspoke, but his statement doesn’t give us much confidence about Rite Aid’s knowledge about the products they’re selling. The fact that the names of the brands they sell aren’t publicly available (at least, not readily) doesn’t help the case, either. While the availability of CBD at Rite Aid may be convenient for Washingtonians and Oregonians, we need more information before recommending them as a CBD source.
Walmart is sort of a technicality here, and we’ll tell you why: they do not carry CBD products in any of their physical store locations. We recognize this doesn’t quite fit the bill of this article, but we feel it’s worth noting, and watching, how Walmart handles the question of local drug stores carry CBD products. If there’s anything we can count on Walmart to do, it’s to seize whatever portion of the market they can. That seizure appears to be quite strategic — again, unsurprising — and begins online.
Walmart has chosen to sell CBD products online exclusively, likely to determine interest in advance of stocking products on shelves. They currently work with only two brands: Medterra and Procana. The two brands are available through the store’s online sales portal, though the orders are fulfilled by discount supplement company VitaSprings.
The limited brand availability shouldn’t be mistaken as a lack of product variety, though. Since they’re only selling online and not in physical stores, Walmart has chosen to offer softgels, tinctures, and other ingestibles alongside topicals. They have also elected to carry pet products, a potential boon to pet owners. It’s notable that, at the time of this writing, Walmart is the only local drugstore carry CBD products to include items for pets.
While the prospect of CBD availability at a retail giant like Walmart is exciting in a certain light, there’s still a ways to go. Stocking of CBD products on Walmart’s site is inconsistent, and items are frequently difficult to find. This isn’t unexpected — it sometimes takes a while to figure out what sells. That said, since the point of this article is to find products available in person, we’re not fully on board with Walmart’s approach to CBD products at this time.
While they’re better known in the grocery industry, Kroger is also a major player in the world of local pharmacy chains. The retailer sells CBD products in hundreds of stores in states across the country. These include Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
Like other major pharmacies stocking CBD on store shelves, Kroger has elected to carry only topicals at this point. Available brands seem to vary from store to store as well as by state, but there appears to be a variety of different products available at many locations around the nation. Some of Kroger’s other local drug stores carry CBD as well, like Fred Meyer and Smith’s Food & Drug. While these stores also plan stock topical CBD products as part of Kroger’s new program, the consistency of this rollout isn’t quite clear.
While brands offered on Kroger store shelves vary from place to place, Charlotte’s Web and PlusCBD Oil are among the brands we trust known to work with Kroger. It’s hard to get a feel for what exactly is available, though checking online can help you decide which location to visit. Finding which Kroger drug stores carry CBD brands you love might take a bit of legwork.
One thing we should note about Kroger’s CBD program is that it’s a little different from other major drug stores. While it doesn’t appear consistent across all locations, some stores only offer CBD products over the counter. This means that CBD is only available for purchase at these locations during pharmacy hours, which tend to be shorter than general operating hours of the grocery store.
In a way, this approach might be a good thing, as it allows people to speak to a trained pharmacist about any concerns or questions they have about a product. However, we could also see this discouraging some people from requesting CBD products, either due to discomfort or inconvenience.
While CBD products are increasing in both popularity and availability, it will likely still be some time before any local store can be a good one-stop shop for your CBD needs. However, the growing body of drug stores carry CBD appears to be growing quickly. Selecting which local drug store to choose for CBD, if any at all, depends on your needs, symptoms, and physiology.
Local drug stores carrying CBD topicals might be beneficial for many people, and we’re here for that, but we also acknowledge that they aren’t (yet) a comprehensive source for CBD wellness products. When it comes to finding which local drug stores carry CBD, we expect to continue to see the availability of these products change.