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Is CBD legal?The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3 percent THC federally legal. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3 percent THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them federally illegal but legal under some state laws. Be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.

Some top cannabidiol (CBD) brands have organic farming practices and rely on third-party testing to verify the purity and quantity of ingredients. They then make these results available to potential customers.

This article discusses CBD and provides a list of top brands that sell CBD products. It also examines the effectiveness of CBD and safety precautions a person can consider.

Quick links

CBD is one of the many cannabinoids present in the Cannabis sativa plant. Another cannabinoid is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a compound that produces the feeling of being “high.” Some C. sativa plants contain minimal THC.

Research states that CBD is nonintoxicating. According to the authors, its beneficial effects include reduction of seizures, pain, and inflammation. In addition, a few studies suggest it may:

CBD in products

Products that contain CBD include:

  • cigarettes for smoking or vaping
  • rectal or vaginal suppositories
  • tinctures or sprays to apply under the tongue
  • nasal sprays
  • creams, lotions, and oils
  • edibles, such as capsules and gummies

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not oversee CBD products in the same way it does other drugs or dietary supplements. As a result, companies may sometimes mislabel or misrepresent their products. For this reason, a person should ensure they do their research and find a product of good quality that is right for them.

Learn more about how to shop for CBD products here.

Extracts of CBD fall into one of the following categories:

  • Full-spectrum: This comes from the C. sativa plant. It contains essential oils and other compounds, including less than 0.3% THC.
  • Broad-spectrum: This is similar to full-spectrum, but it is almost THC-free.
  • Isolate: This is the purest form of CBD.

How we chose

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Ingredients: MNT chooses products containing safe and high-quality ingredients that are clearly labeled. They should also confirm they are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and mold.
  • Dosage: MNT chooses products that must clearly state the CBD dosage.
  • Serving size: MNT selects products in which manufacturers recommend a dosage.
  • Third-party labs: MNT chooses products that must undergo third-party testing for contaminants by an ISO 17025-compliant laboratory.
  • Available certificate of analysis: MNT chooses companies that demonstrate transparency and share a product’s certificate of analysis following receipt of its third-party lab results.

Below are some of the top CBD brands that a person may consider.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best CBD oils: Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web makes CBD products that promote sleep, calmness, and recovery, it says. Options include oils, capsules, gummies, and creams.

The oils and capsules contain full-spectrum CBD. The oils contain 60 milligrams (mg) of CBD per serving, and the capsules have 25 mg. Each serving of 2 gummies contains 10 mg of CBD.

The company says that its farming practices are organic and regenerative, and it allows customers to download products’ certificates of analysis.

Charlotte’s Web is a Certified B Corporation, meaning that it meets standards for public transparency and environmental performance.

The company was founded in 2011 and was among the first CBD companies to have large-scale distribution of CBD products. The company strives to promote quality, transparency, and community in its daily operations and initiatives.

Pros

  • The oil dropper has marked dosage levels.
  • The range of products is wide.

Cons

  • The company’s products can be more expensive than those of other brands.

The costs range from $11.99–299.97.

Best for sleep: CBDistillery

CBDistillery offers full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate CBD products that promote sleep and relaxation, the company says. The range includes oils, capsules, powders, gummies, topicals, vape liquids, and skin care.

The strength of the full-spectrum oil varies from 17–167 mg of CBD per serving. That of the broad-spectrum oil ranges from 17–83 mg per serving. Capsules and gummies contain 30 mg per serving.

CBDistillery uses plants without genetic modification grown with natural farming practices in the United States. It employs third-party lab testing, and its products have U.S. Hemp Authority certification.

What distinguishes CBDistillery’s products is that each comes in a wide range of strengths. For example, full-spectrum tinctures are available in five concentrations, from 8 mg per serving to 167 mg per serving.

Pros

  • The labels, product, and website have clear information about CBD contents.
  • The products may be easy to use, even for people new to CBD.

Cons

  • Some customers report a slow response to refund requests, delayed deliveries, and billing problems.

The costs range from $27–240.

Best for pain relief: Papa & Barkley

Papa & Barkley says that its CBD products promote sleep, reduce stress, and increase mental focus.

The tinctures and capsules contain 30 mg of full-spectrum, whole plant extract CBD per serving. Other products include CBD-infused body oils, balms, and lotions.

The company uses organic, regenerative farm practices, so the hemp plants grow in natural soil without pesticides. The whole plant infusions also contain chlorophyll and other phytonutrients, which may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Instead of using chemicals or harsh extraction methods, Papa & Barkley uses heat, pressure, and water to extract the oil. The company’s products undergo triple third-party testing.

Papa & Barkley is different from other CBD manufacturers because of the process that it uses to extract CBD. The company says that the absence of harsh chemicals in this patented process results in clean, potent CBD.

Pros

  • The range of products is wide.
  • The gummies have many different flavors.
  • The body oils come in a range of fragrances.

Cons

  • All the products contain THC.
  • Some customers report that the oil containers can leak.
  • Some customers note that the scents are too strong.

The costs range from $18–180.

Best product range: Lord Jones

Lord Jones says that its CBD line, which includes tinctures, capsules, gummies, and a variety of bath products, promotes calmness and well-being.

The full-spectrum tinctures contain 20 mg of CBD per serving, while the broad-spectrum ones contain 10 mg per serving.

The capsules and gummies contain broad-spectrum CBD. There is 25 mg of CBD in each capsule and 20 mg in each gummy.

The company sources its CBD from select plants on U.S. farms. The products undergo lab tests to ensure potency and purity.

Lord Jones is distinct because of its wide range of products, from more common ones, such as tinctures and gummies, to bath products and lip balms.

Pros

  • The extract derives from the whole cannabis plant.
  • The diverse product has some unusual variations, such as gumdrops and lip balm.

Cons

  • The costs may be somewhat higher than those of other CBD brands.
  • Measuring the dosage of topicals can be difficult.
  • The test results may be difficult to find.

The costs range from $30–220.50.

Best for testing: Sunsoil

Sunsoil, formerly Green Soil CBD, uses full-spectrum CBD in all its products.

Options include capsules, softgels, drops, and CBD-infused coconut oil. The softgels and coconut oil contain 20 mg of CBD per serving, and the drops contain 10 mg per serving.

The hemp plants are from farms certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The company extracts the CBD by infusing the hemp with coconut oil, which it believes yields the best possible product.

Sunsoil uses third-party tests throughout the production process to ensure that its products are free from contaminants and contain the amount of CBD indicated on the label.

The testing labs have accreditation with the International Organization for Standardization, and the results are freely available.

Sunsoil is different from other CBD brands because of its coconut oil infusion process.

Pros

  • The products are third-party tested throughout the manufacturing process.
  • The CBD oil drops are pet-friendly and can be used in cooking.

Cons

  • The product range is limited.
  • The flavor range is limited.
  • Lipid CBD extraction, which the company practices, may be less effective than carbon dioxide extraction.

The costs range from $30–120.

Charlotte’s WebCBDistilleryPapa & BarkleyLord JonesSunsoil
Type of CBDoils and capsules are full spectrumfull spectrum, broad spectrum, isolatefull spectrumfull spectrum, broad spectrum, isolatefull spectrum
Type of productsoils, capsules, gummies, creamsoils, capsules, gummies, powders, topicals, vape liquids, drinks, pet productstinctures, capsules, topicals, transdermal patchestinctures, capsules, topicals, facial care, bath salts, lip balm, gumdropstinctures, capsules, softgels, coconut oil
Typical CBD dosage per servinggummies: 10 mg
oils: 60 mg
capsules: 25 mg
gummies: 33 mg
oils: 33 mg
capsules: 30 mg
30-mg and 60-mg optionsgumdrops: 20 mg
tincture: 116.29–958.39 mg in 30 ml
tinctures: 21.86 mg per g
Third-party tested?YesYesYesYesYes
Quality controlsCertified B CorporationU.S. Hemp AuthorityiGen, Leaping Bunny, Fair TradeU.S. Hemp Roundtableindependent labs
OrganicThe hemp in capsules is organic.The naturally farmed hemp is free from genetic modification and pesticides.The site does not list organic certifications.The site does not list organic certifications.Yes
Cost$11.99–299.97 $27–240 $18–180$30–220.50$60–120

Legalities concerning CBD are complex. While C. sativa plants containing lessthan 0.3% of THC are no longer a controlled substance under federal law, some states may still prohibit its use.

However, some CBD products do not come from the hemp plant and may contain higher THC levels. These remain illegal in many areas of the U.S.

A person can look to the National Conference of State Legislatures for information on CBD regulation in their state.

A 2017 study indicates that low doses of CBD might benefit and maintain a person’s physiological health. However, it is not advisable to simply assume CBD products are safe and effective.

Safety

The National Center for Health Research (NCHR) lists the following reported side effects of CBD:

Moreover, some studies in animals suggest CBD may harm the liver and central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord. The NCHR also states the dosage of CBD on product labels is sometimes inaccurate, which could add to the potential harm.

The FDA cautions that there is a need for further research into several CBD safety concerns, such as the effects of its long-term use, or the dosages that may trigger risks.

Efficacy

Studies show CBD is effective in treating epilepsy, and the FDA has approved it to treat certain types of seizures. Research has not yet proven CBD’s value for other conditions.

A 2020 review examining clinical trials to determine the efficacy of CBD found low quality evidence to support its use for anxiety, and moderate evidence that supports its use for psychosis.

The authors of the review also report that researchers should conduct more extensive clinical trials to confirm the effectiveness of CBD for:

A wide range of CBD products is available. When looking for a product, a person might consider:

  • Speed: Vaping and tinctures may work more quickly than capsules or topicals. How quickly a person would like to feel the effects of their CBD product may influence the type of product they choose.
  • THC content: People who wish to avoid THC should not use products with full-spectrum CBD.
  • Legality: CBD and THC regulations vary by state, so make sure a product is legal before purchasing it.
  • Dosage: Some products have clearer dosing instructions than others.

Below are answers to common questions about choosing the best CBD brand.

What is the safest CBD brand?

The safety of CBD products may depend on the company’s quality control processes and commitment to third-party testing. Other contributing factors include the potency of CBD and any additional ingredients. For example, some CBD products may cause interactions similar to those of grapefruit, but not all people are susceptible to these interactions.

To make safe choices with CBD:

  • Check for interactions with any medications or supplements.
  • Discuss CBD use with a healthcare professional first.
  • Start with small doses and watch for side effects.
  • Only use CBD products tested by independent third-party labs.

How do you know if a CBD product is high quality?

A CBD product is more likely to be high quality if:

  • The manufacturer relies on testing from independent third-party labs.
  • A person can easily see the test results.
  • The company provides clear information about potency and other ingredients.
  • The company is a member of certification and industry self-regulation organizations.
  • The company provides clear information about its farming practices.

What are the best types of CBD products?

The best type of product depends on what a person is looking for. Someone who wants relief from muscle aches may benefit more from a topical CBD product, while someone who wants better sleep might prefer an ingestible CBD product, such as gummies or vape liquids.

Researching the characteristics of different CBD products can help a person choose one that is right for them.

Top CBD brands test their products for pesticides and other impurities. They also ensure that the amount of CBD on the label is accurate.

While some studies suggest that CBD may help with various health issues, the FDA has only approved one CBD product, and this is used to treat seizures.

Due to safety concerns around the use of CBD products, and therefore a person should contact a healthcare professional before using any products of this kind.