Why Is CBD So Expensive? Plus, How to Be Sure You’re Buying From a Safe Supplier
And if you’re wondering whether the price of CBD oil will drop, you’re in luck.
CBD oil is the most popular ingredient on the block this year. If this is news to you, let’s quickly clear up what it is: CBD is one of the many naturally occurring chemical compounds present in the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants, found in both marijuana and industrial hemp. Unlike THC (the psychoactive element of cannabis), CBD cannot get you high, no matter how much you take.
What’s drawing both consumers and product manufacturers to CBD oil are its highly promising purported health benefits, from reduced anxiety to help with nausea, inflammation, and insomnia. And though we still need more comprehensive research on the effectiveness of CBD oil, the World Health Organization has reported that “CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Thanks to all of the above, CBD is sneaking its way into snacks, drinks, beauty products, even dog food. And understandably so—who wouldn’t want to sleep soundly, reduce chronic pain, and feel more relaxed? However, there’s one key complaint we hear time and again regarding CBD products: the price.
You’ll see a range of price points in the CBD market, of course, but many of them cost upwards of $50 to $100 for a small-sized vial (typically one fluid ounce) of CBD oil or a box of CBD gummy bears. In an effort to understand why—and to find out if and when this crazy cost might lower—we checked in with Brian J. Baum, the President & CEO of CBD giant CANNOVIA.
So, why is CBD so expensive?
According to Baum, there are several factors driving the price of CBD. The most significant is the limited supply vs. the overwhelming demand.
“On the supply side, the imbalance is due to the fact that hemp farming was generally illegal prior to the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018 (Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018), signed into law on December 20, 2018,” he says. Prior to that, hemp farming was only permitted in several states and mainly for research purposes. The Farm bill authorized the farming of “industrial hemp,” that is, hemp with less than 0.3 percent THC (the psychoactive element of cannabis).
Given the reality that hemp is a “crop,” we are just now in the first full growing season for new crops. “This first season is limited due to the lack of defined hemp farming guidelines issued by the USDA. Each state must then either implement the federal guidelines or develop their own plan for regulating hemp farming,” Baum explains.
On the demand side, consumers are increasingly looking for natural treatments for supporting health and wellness. A product that the National Library of Medicine reports was first used for therapeutic benefit in 400 AD, that has never been associated with overdose or death, certainly appeals to this consumer interest.
Will the price of CBD come down over time?
Good news: “The cost of CBD will absolutely drop over time,” says Baum. One of the main drivers for legalizing hemp farming was the potential for farmers to have a new cash crop to replace tobacco. As a result of hemp legalization, the transition to hemp is occurring in states across the country. “We will see the first full yield of a hemp crop in 2020 in states that have implemented farming regulations,” he says.
Another factor driving the cost of CBD is the extraction process. Currently, the extraction of CBD crude from hemp biomass is a bottleneck in the production cycle. There are a limited number of processors equipped to extract hemp biomass. The shortage of processors and the actual cost of extraction is keeping the cost of extraction high. The laws of supply and demand are quickly rebalancing this function as well. Many new extraction providers are coming in to the market, and innovations in the extraction process are already on the horizon which will drive down extraction costs.
“Within the next two to three years we should begin to see the CBD market supply and demand come into balance and result in lower priced CBD products,” Baum says.
How can we tell if we’re overpaying or underpaying for CBD?
There are many great CBD products on the market today. But according to Baum, there are also many products that are substandard for a variety of reasons:
1. Some products imply CBD content. Certain online retailers are notorious for misrepresenting products in the CBD market. Amazon, for instance, does not allow the sale of CBD products, but a search for CBD at Amazon will present numerous “hemp seed oil” products which have no CBD. When it comes to CBD, everyone should be cautious and do their research before buying online.
2. Some products contain quality CBD but their concentrations are so low that they offer no therapeutic benefit. “For example, a 30 milliliter (1 ounce) full-spectrum CBD tincture listed with 50 milligrams of CBD. An average dose of 0.75 milliliters would contain about 1.1 milligrams of CBD. At that level, consumers would not see any CBD benefits.”
3. Inferior CBD is an issue. Given the shortage of domestically produced CBD, much of the CBD in the US has been sourced from overseas markets, such as China. Hemp is a bio accumulator, meaning it absorbs everything in the soil in which it is planted. If the soil is not properly tested, soil contamination from prior crops is quite likely. This could include herbicides, pesticides and metals.
How can we assess the value of CBD products?
One of the best methods of evaluating the quality of a CBD product is the “Certificate of Analysis” (COA). Any reputable CBD source should readily supply the consumer with a certificate of analysis. The COA will provide test results of the actual of the CBD used in a given product. These lab results will provide the concentrations of CBD in the product.
CBD oil is sneaking its way into snacks, drinks, beauty products, even dog food. And understandably so—who wouldn’t want to sleep soundly, reduce chronic pain, and feel more relaxed? However, there’s one key complaint we hear time and again regarding CBD products: the price.
How to Tell If You’re Overpaying for CBD Oil
The notoriety of CBD, or cannabidiol, has grown tremendously over the last couple years, and so has the availability of CBD oils (and their prices). Many people who are getting into CBD start by asking the question: “How much does CBD oil cost?” But with so much variation in the industry, determining which products are truly worth the cost can be a challenge.
To simplify this process, Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN, Senior Editor of Health & Wellness Strategy at Remedy Review, a CBD reviews site, compared the prices of popular CBD oil brands on the market—including Medterra, cbdMD, and Naternal—to pinpoint the average cost of CBD oil.
How much does CBD oil cost?
To determine the value, or cost per milligram of a CBD oil, divide the price of the product by the total mg of CBD. For example, a bottle of CBD oil that costs $120 and contains a total of 2,400 mg of CBD costs $0.05 per mg.
The price of a CBD tincture can vary across brands, but the average cost tends to land somewhere between $0.05 to $0.20 per mg of CBD. If you’re paying more than 20 cents per mg of CBD, you’re likely overpaying.
The best value CBD oils
The average prices of some leading brands are similar, but a few clear leaders emerge when we talk about value. Below, we’ve highlighted the most cost efficient products from three top brands to help you get the most for your money.
Each 1 ml serving of this full-spectrum product from Naternal contains 40 mg of cannabinoids, including CBD and trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3% by law), terpenes, and flavonoids from the cannabis plant, a.k.a. hemp.
To buy: Naternal Full Spectrum 1,200 mg CBD Oil, $40; naternal.com
This THC-free CBD oil tincture from Medterra provides 100 mg of CBD in each 1 ml serving.
To buy: Medterra CBD Isolate 3,000 mg Tincture, $135; medterracbd.com
This moderate strength product from cbdMD is THC-free and delivers 25 mg cannabinoids (including CBD) in each 1 ml serving. It’s available in natural, berry, orange, and mint flavors.
To buy: cbdMD Broad Spectrum 750 mg CBD Oil, $70; cbdMD.com
CBD oil price comparison
In the price comparison below, you can see the average cost per mg of CBD for 10 top brands, organized from lowest (i.e. best value) to highest.
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.03
- CBD oil price range: $25–$60
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.06
- CBD oil price range: $34.99–$132.99
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.07
- CBD oil price range: $29.99–$339.99
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.08
- CBD oil price range: $29–$260
- FAB CBD
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.09
- CBD oil price range: $39–$129
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.10
- CBD oil price range: $57.95–$115
- Charlotte’s Web
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.11
- CBD oil price range: $39.99–$164.99
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.12
- CBD oil price range: $89–$269
- NuLeaf Naturals
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.12
- CBD oil price range: $38.50–$439
- Green Roads
- Average cost per mg CBD: $0.14
- CBD oil price range: $23.95–$342.50
Why do people pay so much for CBD oil?
The main draw towards CBD products stems from the compound’s many potential health benefits. People buy CBD products to help with inflammation and pain, anxiety and stress, and sleep quality. This is not a full list, but it does encompass some of the most common reasons people turn to CBD. Additionally, CBD oil rarely produces any negative side effects, which can be best avoided by proper dosage and administration.
It’s also worth noting that while many people enjoy using CBD oil as a part of their wellness routine, the Food and Drug Administration has only approved one CBD-based drug, known as Epidiolex. This means that mainstream hemp products, like CBD tinctures, have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat any disease. If you have a serious medical condition or take prescription medications, consult with your physician before buying CBD oil.
Factors that affect CBD oil prices
CBD oil seems like a pricier wellness supplement, but there’s a reason. Many additional manufacturing and quality control practices go into creating a trustworthy CBD oil that other dietary supplements do not require. Some factors that affect how much CBD oil costs include:
The origin of the hemp plant matters, and the best CBD companies source their industrial hemp from domestic farms. The most recent Farm Bill laws regulate standards for U.S. hemp cultivation, so American-grown hemp is the safest option for quality CBD oil. Organically or ethically-grown hemp will cost more as well, especially USDA-certified organic hemp that is more costly to grow.
Strength and type of CBD extract
While products with higher strengths or concentrations of CBD are more expensive, they also have better value. This is because they have a lower cost per mg of CBD. Similar to buying toilet paper in bulk to save money, you can save money in the long run if you opt for a strong CBD oil that will last for a longer period of time than less potent options.
The type of CBD product can affect the price as well. For example, a full-spectrum product may be priced differently than a CBD isolate or broad-spectrum product that has gone through additional distillation and purification processes to filter out plant compounds like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC-free CBD oils are a good option for anyone who submits to regular drug testing, but full-spectrum CBD products may elicit an entourage effect that may be more effective in terms of elevating your general health and wellness.
Whether you’re buying CBD oils online or in-store, third-party lab testing is a must for all hemp-derived products. This process isn’t cheap, and more in-depth testing can cost more (which leads to a more costly end product). However, this external testing provides greater evidence of quality, safety, and transparency for the brand and its products.
Some CBD oil tinctures may contain premium ingredients like a USDA-certified organic MCT coconut oil or all-natural flavorings that can increase the price of the product. If you’re set on purchasing a truly organic CBD oil, the extra cost may be worth it.
Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious, factor affecting the price of CBD oil is discounts or coupons that may lower the overall cost of an order. Many of the CBD brands listed above offer first-time buyer discounts, as well as subscription or bundle-and-save options that can cut the price of CBD oil significantly.
Is CBD oil worth the cost?
If you’re looking to buy CBD oil online, there’s no doubt that there are plenty of hemp products to choose from. Apart from CBD oils, there’s also the option of varying application styles like CBD capsules, gummies, topical lotions, and much more.
With all this information to take into account, the CBD industry can seem like a confusing marketplace with an overwhelming number of hemp oils (and prices) to filter through. However, many consumers are flocking to CBD, and often use its potential health benefits as a way to justify the price tag.
So if you’re in the market for an all-natural plant extract with a lot of hype around its benefits, CBD oil may be worth the splurge. And you can still shop for high-quality products without breaking the bank.
Ashley Jordan Ferira, PhD, RDN is the Senior Editor of Health & Wellness Strategy at Remedy Review, an independent CBD reviews site. Dr. Ferira completed her PhD in Foods & Nutrition at The University of Georgia, where she researched the role of vitamin D in pediatric cardiometabolic disease. The products featured in this article were tested at ProVerde Laboratories in Milford, MA and Avazyme, Inc. in Durham, NC.
This content is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice; it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before consuming or using any of the products mentioned on this site.
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Want to know how much CBD oil costs? Check out our guide to CBD prices and comparisons from the top 10 CBD oil brands, then determine which is right for you.