Hemp extract is widely reported to reduce anxiety, but when arriving at a decision on which product to try the consumer is too often left experiencing the opposite effect. Like many “emerging markets”, the CBD market has experienced a staggering number of new entrants all looking to distinguish themselves on price, brand, quality, efficacy or combination thereof. Simultaneously, the internet has exploded with information making the consumption of honest information an exercise in filtering without clear criteria.
Obviously, quality and efficacy should serve as a prerequisite for any consumers search for a CBD product. As some readers are likely aware, there are a variety of resources on the internet with a diverse range of evaluation criteria. As a disclaimer, you will not find on DankeSuper reviewed on these platforms, and it’s because we have not requested they review our product yet. We believe in our product and will be submitting it for range of independent reviews in upcoming weeks, but for now let’s establish the baseline criteria used in product selection for this buyers guide (and the minimum to which we hold ourselves above).
- Readily available COA for contaminants, terpenes, and phytocannabinoids with COA at the batch extract level for all three and product level for cannabinoids (at a minimum).
- Clear description of ingredients and hemp extract concentrations with the ability to delineate what concentrations mean in context of cannabinoid content.
- Description of where the hemp is sourced and how it is extracted.
For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on brands that meet the criteria above, using full spectrum hemp extract derived using either supercritical or ethanol extraction. Typically, supercritical C02 (used by DankeSuper) and butane extraction are considered the preferred methods for extraction across members of the industry, but we’re including ethanol because it’s the technique used by the current leader within the industry in terms of market share, Charlotte’s Web. The importance of COA’s extends beyond superficial qualities such as “authenticity” or transparency, and extend to the fact that hemp as a plant acts as a bioaccumulator. A “bioaccumulator” is an powerful quality within the context of regenerative agricultural, but an important consideration in terms of human consumption. Essentially, it means that the hemp plant acts like a sponge to its environmental factors including toxins and contaminants. It’s for this reason we strongly suggest matching product to extract batch. Just because an extract utilized last year read “ND” for toxins and contaminants doesn’t necessarily ensure the safety of the product your consuming.
The other critical component of COA is that it provides an honest interpretation of a products phytocannabinoid make up. In November, 2019 Leafly published a study of 47 CBD brands with the following summarized the results:
- 51% of products (24 of 47) delivered the promised CBD within 20% of the labeled dosage.
- 23% of products (11 of 47) delivered some CBD, but less than 80% of the dosage promised on the label.
- 15% of products (7 of 47) delivered more than 120% of the promised CBD.
- 11% of products (5 of 47) delivered no CBD whatsoever.
In full spectrum & broad spectrum products, one way to reduce potential “false advertising” is to state the concentration of extract and refer to the COA to determine the precise amount of CBD. The reason being that even if the extract was derived from the same harvest of hemp there’s a certain degree of variation expected across underlying batch extracts (generally around 20%) . Hence, we return to the fact that actual batch COA is a critical component in evaluating the product you intend to consume (or are considering).
Note, that this discussion has focused exclusively on broad spectrum & full spectrum extracts. This is for good reason… DankeSuper currently holds the view that the most effective means to realize hemp’s benefits is in the form of whole plant extract, but acknowledges that broad spectrum may be the most appropriate choice for some individuals. For my insight into that view, check out our blog post on the Spectrum of the Absurd.