a closeup of green light up sign that says cannabis shop with a cannabis leaf.

Unregulated CBD Biz Maintains High Standards

3 minute read

A cannabis review site dedicated to impartial product research recently published a handy article that takes a broad look at the CBD industry as a whole. Oracle, the site behind the research, analyzed a small pool of 196 companies, including Extract Labs. There are well over 1,500 brands in the crowded market today. But most of the major long-running companies are included on the list, providing a good look at established businesses. 

Surprisingly, the industry is doing better than we all may have thought. 

If you’re in the business or a cannabis connoisseur, you’ve likely come across some version of this ubiquitous warning: “CBD is unregulated, and you should proceed with caution.” There is plenty of truth to this; it’s important to be an informed consumer. But the oft-repeated sentiment creates an image of mustached con men maliciously covering a skull and crossbones on a tincture bottle with a CBD label. Oracle’s analysis shows the industry isn’t as nefarious as the common warning suggests. 

“What surprised me about these findings is how it paints a different view of the cannabis industry than what we’re told in the media,” Ali Mans Cornwell, the author who evaluated the research, said in an email. “Despite being largely unregulated with much more to be done, the CBD industry still maintains a certain level of safety, transparency, and integrity.” 

Cornwell discovered over 90 percent of brands third-party-test their extractions and provide certificates of analysis detailing what’s in a product batch. This is a big win for the industry as a whole. It means that most brands are letting customers know what’s in their products and ensuring extractions are free of harmful contaminants. 

“Just look at the percentage of companies third-party testing their products, publishing their hemp sources, being transparent with their extraction methods, and obtaining USDA Organic certifications,” he said. “All of this is indicative of an industry so aware of its current reputation that it’s taking appropriate steps to ensure standards are met.” 

Far fewer were certified organic, only 4 percent, but that doesn’t mean only 4 percent adhere to organic standards. The USDA is a government entity. Since the FDA has not produced federal guidelines for producing and manufacturing hemp products, it is difficult to obtain the official stamp.  

“Be under no illusion, though. Way more needs to be done, whether it be through educational resources, tougher federal and state-level regulation, or simply getting consumers to make better decisions when shopping for CBD products,” Cornwell said. 

With marijuana, in particular, some labs have been caught inflating THC content. There have been issues of over and under-labeling in the CBD business as well. 

“The CBD industry certainly isn’t in the clear yet, but this analysis shows it’s doing way better than most expected it to,” he said.

A screenshot from cannabis review site Oracle's analysis on extract labs

Other Noteworthy Takeaways

Types of Products 
Most CBD brands offer oils and topicals, 80 and 70 percent respectively. Gummies, beauty/skincare products, vapes, then beverages are also popular. The least common products were transdermal patches, inhalers, and lubricants (Ooh, la la!).  Candles came in last place, which may be as useful as these CBD pants

Extraction Method
The fact that over 53 percent of CBD companies use CO2 extraction (including us!) is another notable revelation. The cleanliness, faster extraction times, lower costs and higher yields make this method is desirable for extractors and consumers alike. Ethanol extraction was the second most popular process, yet only took up 12 percent. 

Minor Cannabinoids
We are proud to be part of the small cohort of CBD businesses that offer other minor cannabinoids. Just under 20 percent offer CBG, 12 percent offer CBN, and only 4 percent offer CBC. We provide all three!

Sixty percent of CBD companies charge under 0.15 cents per milligram of CBD. Only 9 percent charge the highest rate, $0.21 to $0.25. Only 9 percent price below $0.05, including us! 

Hemp Sourcing
Their analysis revealed that the majority of brands source their hemp from Colorado, over 31 percent. Oregon trails in a second at 15 percent, followed by Kentucky at 9 percent. This isn’t too surprising since Colorado is a national leader in the cannabis movement. What is strange is that only 8 percent of companies source from California, where there are over 550 registered growers. Ten percent source internationally, mostly from Europe. 

More About the Brand Review Process

Find specific brand reviews on Oracle’s site, which they utilized for their analysis. To rate their products, they test 3 to 6 popular products from credible brands and rate them by function, finish, flavor and feeling. Oracle reviewers consider effectiveness, potency, onset, duration and overall experience.


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