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CBD edibles: What are they and what’s to know?

November 22, 2019
(Nastasic/iStock)

Consumers looking to try CBD have a huge variety of options available to them, including flower, vapes, oils, and—one of the most popular ways to consume CBD—infused edibles. With so many CBD edible products on the market, new consumers may find that world pretty tough to navigate. Leafly’s got your edible educational needs covered.

What are CBD edibles?

Edibles are—you guessed it—an ingestible form of cannabis that requires no combustion (fire) to activate its chemical compounds. Many people prefer edibles because there’s no smoke to inhale or permeate carpets and furniture.

There are two common types of CBD edibles: balanced THC/CBD and CBD dominant. Balanced edibles contain equal (or near-equal) amounts of both THC and CBD. CBD-dominant edibles, on the other hand, typically contain little or no measurable THC—it’s all about the CBD.

Because they contain some THC, consumers should expect balanced edibles to impart some of the classic cannabis high that THC is mostly responsible for. CBD-dominant edibles, on the other hand, shouldn’t bring about any sort of intoxication.

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CBD vs. THC: What’s the difference?

Why buy CBD edibles?

There are many advantages to consuming CBD edibles. The most obvious is that they don’t put smoke into your lungs. In addition to the health advantages, CBD edibles are also great for those seeking a quick, convenient, and discreet way to medicate. Lastly, one of the greatest advantages of CBD edibles is that they’re often affordable. CBD flower and oil can carry a hefty price tag, especially when bought in bulk, but you can usually get edibles in bulk for a lower cost-per-item.

How are CBD edibles made?

CBD edibles come from three distinct types of CBD: full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate.

Full-spectrum CBD products are made using the complete chemical profile of the cannabis or hemp plant. Be clear: products from cannabis and hemp are not the same, and do not produce the same experience.

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What’s the difference between CBD derived from hemp and cannabis?

Full-spectrum products derived from cannabis use all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and molecular compounds within the cannabis plant, which includes THC—sometimes in very small, almost trace amounts, but sometimes in significant doses. Full-spectrum CBD products from hemp use the full chemical profile of the hemp plant, which really may not be that different from broad-spectrum CBD.

Broad-spectrum CBD products contain all of the cannabinoids of the cannabis or hemp plant they are sourced, but have had the THC removed.

CBD isolate products consist of nothing except CBD. No other cannabinoids, no terpenes, no nothing but pure CBD. These too, are often made from industrial hemp, instead of actual cannabis.

It is important to note that both products from cannabis and hemp can be labeled as full spectrum, but they are not the same. Hemp products as labeled this way because they capture the full chemical profile of the hemp plant, which by definition contains only trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%). Though technically full-spectrum, these products may not provide the complete experience that many consumers associate with full-spectrum products from more chemically diverse cannabis plants.

Which CBD edibles should I be consuming?

CBD edibles come in various forms including: gummies, hard candies, chocolates, cookies, cakes, and even capsules. Among these many varieties, gummies are the most popular option for most consumers in the US.

When choosing products, the first question to ask is, what type of experience do you want? If you are looking for a THC-inclusive experience that will get you high, but be a little bit lighter than the high you might experience from consuming a THC-dominant flower, then a balanced product may be best for you. Many products present a 1:1 ratio, for instance 10mg of CBD to 10mg of THC, but others offer higher CBD to THC ratios as well.

If you only want the wellness benefits of CBD, then a CBD-dominant edible, from hemp or cannabis dependent on consumer preference, would be the best call for you, as they won’t get you high, but will allow you to experience the wellness benefits of CBD.

While CBD-only edibles are widely available online and at retailers like grocery stores and pharmacies, the consistency and reliability of these products isn’t always guaranteed.

To learn more about the current state of CBD products on the market, check out Leafly’s recent potency test of 47 CBD products.

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Are you getting the CBD you paid for? We put 47 products to the test

Where should I buy CBD edibles?

To buy CBD edibles derived from cannabis, you will need to be in a legal state with access to dispensaries. While they’re not available to all consumers, these remain the best place to purchase full-spectrum products that are guaranteed lab tested in compliance with local laws.

Hemp-derived CBD edibles, because they contain less than 0.3% THC, can be purchased from dispensaries, grocery stores, online retailers, and even directly from the producers’ websites.

With full-spectrum CBD from hemp, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate products, the vetting process becomes a lot trickier due to the lack of FDA regulations. For these products, you’d need to purchase from a marketplace with clean, trusted, verified products. To learn more about what to look for when buying hemp-derived CBD, check out this guide.

Dante Jordan's Bio Image

Dante Jordan

Dante Jordan is a Content Associate for Leafly, where he specializes in creating topics pertaining to cannabis products, strains, and dispensaries. He also manages the Leafly strain database.

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