Why Is CBD so Expensive? [The TRUTH Revealed…]
It’s a sad but common question among the countless thousands of people who take CBD daily: “Why is this CBD oil so damn expensive?!”
For those new to CBD, the price of CBD oil probably seems unnecessarily high – especially for such a small bottle. As you’re surely aware, some products that contain high levels of CBD cost well over a hundred dollars. Are these prices justifiable?
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why CBD oil is way more expensive than you think it should be.
Breeding CBD-Rich Strains
You probably see CBD oil as a convenient bottle of (hopefully) beneficial liquid. However, the process that goes into making that small bottle is long and expensive.
For starters, producers have to breed a quality, CBD-rich strain of cannabis. This is difficult, in part because of various legal issues that still exist around cannabis. Though hemp-derived CBD is now legal across the USA, it is still illegal to grow some varieties of the plant.
CBD-rich plants are permissible to grow in specific states. Still, the general process of growing cannabis – or hemp – is limited. Heavy taxes also accompany legal cannabis cultivation. This results in a huge amount of requisite oversight from state governments. If you knew the licensing fees that legal growers have to pay, then the expensive prices of CBD oil would make much more sense.
In other countries (for example, in the United Kingdom) the problems are worse. In the UK, the government only allows a finite number of growers to obtain cannabis growing licenses. These licenses are hard to get, and they often go to friends and family of the UK government. It’s no secret, for example, that the husband of a UK minister tasked with discussing cannabis policy is the largest grower in the British Isles.
The Effect on Hemp Farmers
This is especially bad for hemp farmers, as other crops receive more favorable taxation. This means there is little incentive for farmers to grow cannabis – or hemp for that matter. Naturally, this reduces the supply of domestically-grown hemp. It also drives prices up even further.
Without even considering the legalities, the actual process of growing quality cannabis is expensive. It’s true that cannabis is a hardy plant – hence its common name of ‘weed’. However, to obtain quality yields it still requires things like specific temperatures and moisture content. In some localities, these are impossible to provide without sophisticated (and very expensive) indoor grow operations.
You can imagine how expensive it is to grow CBD cannabis in a temperature-controlled environment. Throw in things like artificial lights, ventilation systems, and feeding setups, and you’re in for a hefty bill.
As you can see, things can get quite expensive quickly. Overhead costs are not an insignificant reason for the expensive cost of the CBD oil.
Heavy taxation also exists in the sale of cannabis for the purpose of making CBD oil. And as we discussed above, even after harvest, the actual process of making CBD oil has plenty of costs.
What It Takes to Manufacture CBD Oil
CBD oil might seem like a simple medicine at first glance. Inert oil with CBD inside it can’t possibly cost that much to make, right?
Well, the extraction process necessary to isolate the CBD (and other cannabinoids) requires significant setup. It also requires very expensive equipment and high-paid workers that know how to use it.
Take CO2 extraction machines, for instance. These use unimaginable levels of heat and pressure to transform carbon dioxide into a supercritical state. Supercritical means the CO2 has properties of both a liquid and a gas. In this state, the CO2 can permeate solid plant matter and extract phytochemicals. In other words, it can “pull” things like cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds right out of the plant.
Once this process is complete, the resulting extract needs further purification. This is especially the case if you’re trying to make CBD isolate. (CBD isolate is a form of CBD oil that contains only CBD and nothing else.) All in all, there are a tremendous amount of steps that go into making a high-quality CBD oil. These steps require hi-tech machinery, as well as people who know how to operate them. In other words, they require a lot of money.
Let’s take a look at another step of the CBD extraction process that requires even more specialized equipment.
The Importance of Winterization
After CO2 extraction, the resulting mixture gets frozen and purified in a process known as winterization. Winterization allows manufacturers to separate specific compounds prior to finalizing and bottling a tincture.
After compound separation, the final mix suspends in an inert oil for a period of time. Depending on the choice of oil for the CBD product, the cost can increase dramatically during this step.
Coconut and hemp oil provide taste and texture, but quality ones are not cheap. These oils promote health benefits associated with using specific types of fatty oils. For example, coconut oil’s ability to encourage CBD intake in the body (via intestinal lymphatic drug delivery) is a unique quality of fatty oils. The CBD oil becomes ‘stuck’ in the intestines, and transfers more easily into the blood.
After winterization, the CBD oil is bottled and prepared for shipment and consumption. You might think that should be it. However, there are still other necessary steps prior to getting a high-quality CBD oil into a consumer’s hands.
Getting CBD Oil Ready for Market (Legality and More)
CBD, as well as cannabis in general, is in a very interesting position with regard to its legality.
Though it is well known that CBD is in no way psychoactive or at all addictive, many people still treat it with the same dubiousness and fear that they do regular cannabis. For this reason, many countries have extremely stringent rules regarding how CBD oil is to be tested, as well as numerous regulations that the product itself must conform to.
This essentially involves the CBD oil being tested extensively, both in laboratories and by governmental food and drug spot checks. These tests cost a huge amount of money because the CBD oil is required to be tested against many different criteria, such as individual efficacy, THC content and more.
Certain organizations, such as Provacan in the UK, have even gone so far as to get their CBD oil certified as Kosher, a process that is as expensive as it is arduous.
Efficacy for the Customer
Part of the reason for all these accreditations and tests is to ensure the product’s final efficacy for the consumer, but it’s also to try and encourage people to actually pick up and try CBD oil. Due to its significant negative public image due to its association with cannabis, people still look at CBD oil with fear. By obtaining a variety of accreditations and accolades, CBD producers hope to try and court a wider audience.
The sheer variety of legal challenges and taxation issues is made worse by the fact that it is legally difficult to try and sell CBD oil across international or even state borders, as the legality of it differs depending on where you are.
What’s more, cannabis is still technically federally illegal in the USA, meaning that people think they constantly run the risk of endangering themselves by using it, even if hemp-derived CBD is not controlled in the same way marijuana is.
CBD Oil Price Comparison Table
With the basics of what goes into making a quality CBD oil, let’s actually do a quick CBD oil price comparison. As one would suspect, there’s really no exact answer to the question “how much does CBD oil cost?” Prices will vary according to strength, brand name, and so on. That said, here is a convenient table for directly comparing prices across several popular/top-rated CBD brands.
Prices are subject to change frequently. Check official online stores for the most accurate and up-to-date costs.
If the question "why is CBD oil so expensive" is still bugging you, read on to understand why. We explain the costs of producing CBD, from plant to bottle.
What is CBD oil, and why is it so expensive?
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: Depending on who you ask, CBD oil can be a miracle cure, a snake-oil placebo, or something vague in between. This poorly regulated industry, which has boomed over the last three years, is a minefield for newcomers. Considering that manufacturers are unauthorized to make medical claims, how can one CBD oil cost $50, while another of the same volume costs $390? And are premium CBD oils justified for being so expensive?
Firstly, what is CBD?
Dani Gordon: CBD stands for cannabidiol. That’s the chemical name for one of the chemicals in the cannabis plant. The CBD oil that you’re seeing on shelves that consumers can buy without a prescription is actually from low-THC, the stuff that makes you high, varieties of the cannabis plant.
Narrator: CBD is a new and rapidly growing phenomenon, with sales tripling in the last three years. But the line between what consumers are using it for and what manufacturers can say to attract them is increasingly blurred.
Gordon: It can be used for a variety of purposes, things like inflammation, anxiety, stress, and it can also be used just to support general wellness. Now, the differentiating criteria between a medicine and a supplement is you cannot make a claim that it treats or cures a specific medically diagnosed disease. And that’s really important for companies to understand, because they can get their products pulled off the shelves, and they can also potentially sometimes unintentionally mislead consumers.
Narrator: But in the age of anxiety, it’s no surprise that CBD has become a hot ticket for manufacturers, who infuse all sorts of products with cannabidiol, shrewdly tapping into its perceived wellness benefits and bumping up the price of otherwise standard items, like gummies, sportswear, tampons, and even dog treats. But how do we assess the value of CBD oil, which is actually produced in two different ways?
Gordon: A full- or broad-spectrum product is made from the whole plant extract. They take the flower and they process it, and they come up with an extract that not only has CBD, but it has other plant chemicals, other cannabinoids, other terpenoids, other things in the plant that work together in this, what’s called this herbal synergy, this entourage effect. And what you get is greater than the sum of its parts.
Narrator: But some manufacturers process the extract even further into CBD isolate, a substance devoid of all other plant chemicals and labeled as “pure CBD.” But this isolate, which often features in expensive products, is generally considered to be less effective and cheaper to make.
Gordon: Some brands and some companies will put CBD isolate into a product and then brand it as a premium product, even though the cost of actually making it, because the cost of the isolate, is quite a lot lower than the cost of a full- or broad-spectrum CBD.
Narrator: But because of lax regulations in the industry, this fundamental difference in CBD oils is often disguised by manufacturers. The front of this premium $300 bottle, for example, does not display that it is, in fact, made from isolate.
Gordon: Sometimes you have to dig into the nitty-gritty of the ingredients. And sometimes you even have to, you might have to call the company and see what they’ve actually used. But in general, the labeling criteria are becoming a little bit stricter, so more and more consumers will be able to know what is a CBD isolate product and what comes from a full- or broad-spectrum source.
Narrator: These products can also be measured by the amount of cannabidiol in each bottle.
Gordon: What you really need to look for is the number of milligrams in the entire bottle, and then the number of milligrams of CBD per dose. And that’s really gonna tell you the bang for buck.
Narrator: But even high-dosage, full-spectrum CBD doesn’t have the approval from the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA says it “recognizes the significant public interest in cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD. However, there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.”
More worryingly, lab tests conducted by the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis found that 62% of CBD products tested in the UK didn’t contain the cannabidiol content promised on the label. One product actually contained no CBD whatsoever.
CBD is shrouded in mystery and confusion for the consumer. On the one hand, a 2018 cross-sectional study of CBD users found that almost 62% “reported using CBD to treat a medical condition,” stating that CBD has “broad therapeutic value. But on the other hand, manufacturers cannot use the research data to make medical claims, leaving spokespeople in the unenviable position of having to promote their products to a certain demographic while avoiding endorsing the public’s perception of CBD.
Brett Heaps: So, what we’re not allowed to do with our products is make any medicinal claims, ’cause they’re not medical products. All our products that we sell are wellness products to improve sleeps and moods. We see CBD as a homeostasis product, which balances the levels in your body to get you into a normal state and balanced mind.
Narrator: Thankfully, despite the misconceptions, no matter what you use it for, there is a way to get a snapshot of the quality of CBD oil.
Gordon: You wanna look for a certificate of analysis. That means that that is a third-party-tested lab report. They test their product to make sure that it’s not contaminated, make sure it doesn’t have accidental THC levels above the allowed limit. Make sure it doesn’t have heavy metals in it. Make sure there’s no microbials, so, bacteria or fungus that can grow in these plants. No herbicides, pesticides, things you don’t want in it.
Narrator: So, why is it so expensive? The cost of producing CBD oil isn’t particularly high in relation to other large-scale crops. But there appears to be a premium on all cannabidiol, as revealed in this comparison of full-spec CBD, which shows that its prices grow pretty uniformly, according to the price per milligram in each bottle. With any wellness product with a global hype, high demand means high prices. Statistics show that sales of CBD will likely reach $1.8 billion in the next two years. But without regulation, medical research, and clear consumer knowledge, the human value of CBD oil will, for now, remain a matter of opinion.
CBD is a growing phenomenon, with sales tripling in the last three years. But manufacturers are forbidden to make medical claims on its effectiveness.