full spectrum vs broad spectrum


Here’s everything you need to know about CBD

Find out what it is, if it shows up on a drug test and more.


Marisa Losciale


Posted on Mar 9, 2020   Updated on Jan 27, 2021, 4:37 am CST

Once you start researching “what is CBD?” you’ll realize there’s a lot more to it than you originally thought. With the tenacity of a tailwind, the questions start to pile up fast: is CBD legal? What is CBD good for? What’s the difference between CBD isolate, full spectrum, and broad spectrum CBD?

Looking for answers? Let’s start with the basics.

What is CBD? Are there dangers of CBD use?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the main chemical components (or cannabinoids) found in the Cannabis sativa plant. Unlike THC (another cannabinoid), CBD is not psychoactive. Meaning, it won’t get you high or alter your perception and it can be harvested for agricultural purposes via the hemp plant.

Its effects, according to the British Pharmacological Society Journals, can help relieve a wide range of symptoms including those associated with mood disorders, chronic pain, anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. However, since most of these products are listed as supplements and not medications, both the products themselves and their effects have not been regulated or substantiated by the FDA. 

That being said, since this isn’t a federally regulated industry, there are companies that falsify how much CBD is actually in the products, attempting to get away with using synthetics and even going as far as adding obscene amounts of melatonin to CBD edibles so consumers “feel” something. All of this is gross and potentially dangerous, so I’m going to tell you how to avoid it: READ THE LAB REPORTS AND INGREDIENT LABELS. I cannot stress this enough, and any reputable company will provide third-party lab results for all its CBD products. Why third-party? Because outside, unrelated labs have nothing to gain from their conclusions ensuring accuracy is never compromised.

Additionally, it’s important to talk to your doctor before incorporating any CBD into your routine as it can interact with certain prescriptions, and if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding the FDA advises against the use of any hemp or marijuana products.

Is CBD legal?

Yep! Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp (which is defined as having 0.3% or less of THC) has been declassified as a Schedule I controlled substance and granted full rights as an agricultural product.

Even though it’s legal, not enough people are familiar with CBD to know that the flower/herb itself looks and smells just like marijuana. So if weed is still illegal in your state, I would suggest keeping your CBD in its labeled packaging. This way if you travel with it (or store it in your gym bag and happen to get pulled over), you’ll have proof that what you have is THC-free.

Does CBD show up on a drug test and can you fail a drug test due to CBD use?

I wish it weren’t so, but yes, depending on how you use CBD and the type of CBD you consume, sometimes it can cause a false positive THC test result. Why? The answer is, once again, cannabinoids.

The two most popular cannabinoids are THC and CBD, but there are hundreds of other compounds like these that interact with our endocannabinoid system (specifically our CB1 and CB2 receptors) to alter pain perception, regulate our mood, stress responses, and memory. Certain cannabinoids will tap into our CB1 (central nervous system) receptors, while other compounds work with the CB2 (immune system, cardiovascular system, and muscular system) receptors. And when both the CB1 and CB2 receptors are triggered at the same time, patients respond with a greater success rate of CBD benefits due to something known as the “entourage effect.” Basically, cannabinoids work better together because they’re able to target and stimulate all the different types of receptors in our endocannabinoid system.

But what do these different cannabinoids have to do with causing you to fail a drug test? It basically boils down to how the CBD was extracted from the plant which determines if any other cannabinoids were extracted with it. Certain procurement methods will preserve all (if not most) of the cannabinoids found in the plant including trace amounts of THC (remember the guidelines for legality?), while others are able to extract all CBD without any of the other cannabinoids. So depending on how sensitive the drug tests are and how often you’re consuming the CBD product, you could end up flagged for a false positive.

Is this something you should be worried about? Well, in states where recreational marijuana is legal, you most likely won’t be drug tested for THC (but there are exceptions to this, so if you’re that concerned it might be worth it to review your employee handbook). But in all the other states, this could be problematic (except if you’re in New York City, where laws have barred the practice of testing for THC in pre-employment drug tests to protect medical marijuana users).

So how do you use CBD without risking a failed drug test? Easy, you just have to know what each of the extraction methods are, this way you can figure out which ones you should avoid. And we’ve got all the deetz for you below.

Full spectrum VS broad spectrum CBD and what it means

If you’ve ever looked at a CBD product’s packaging you might have picked up on the terms “full-spectrum,” “broad-spectrum,” “CBD isolate” and wondered what it all meant or if it matters (spoiler: it does).

Full-spectrum CBD provides you with (literally) a full spectrum of compounds of the hemp plant. This includes the terpenes, oils, and every cannabinoid found in the plant–so you’ll reap the benefits of not only CBD but CBG, CBDA, CBC, etc. However, this method of extraction also allows for trace amounts of THC to survive, meaning it’s possible that you can fail a drug test after consuming full-spectrum CBD products.

Broad-spectrum CBD includes most but not all of the compounds found in the hemp plant. It cuts out all of the essential oils and traces of THC, leaving behind only terpenes and other nonpsychoactive cannabinoids.

CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like–CBD isolated from all the other cannabinoids and hemp plant compounds. But when looking at CBD isolate products, it’s important to look at its “purity” percentage, (strange for an ‘isolated’ product, I know, but in an unregulated industry this small margin of error is acceptable and usually negligible). If the product’s purity is 99.9%+ you’re in the clear, but anything below 99.5% has the chance of flagging for a false-positive THC lab test result.

How to use CBD

CBD, like THC, is able to be consumed in a variety of forms (listed below).

How you choose to use it is a conversation for you and your doctor to have, but it usually depends on what your reason for using CBD is and any other health conditions you may have or medications you may be on. Ultimately, how you use CBD is up to you, but for example, if you have asthma or other pulmonary issues CBD edibles and topicals would be your best bet as you inhaling smoke or vapor could be irritating.

Where can I buy CBD oil, edibles, flower, tincture, etc.?

At this point, almost everyone has hopped on the CBD trend–even gas stations and now hairdressers are selling it. But just because someone feels comfortable selling it doesn’t mean they’re qualified to (or even know what they’re selling you). So to avoid sketchy products, stick with your local CBD dispensary’s recommendations or these trusted online and third-party-lab-tested resources.

1) Medterra CBD

Available online and at participating retailers, Medterra CBD is one of the most well-known and trusted brands in the space. All Medterra products are third-party lab tested and so high in quality, Medterra actually works in partnership with the Hemp Pilot Research Program.

Medterra offers all sorts of CBD products, including broad-spectrum and CBD products for pets. For those looking to order online, the site offers free shipping on orders $99+ and 15% off for those who choose the subscription option.

Price: $34.99-$99.99

2) JustCBD

JustCBD is another great online CBD retailer. JustCBD offers more of a variety than Medterra, so if you want to try CBD in all of its forms this is definitely the place to go. The company also does third-party lab tests for all its products, blogs recipe ideas, and regularly runs sales. Online customers can take advantage of free shipping and score 20% off their first order!

Price: $6.99-$250

3) Extract Labs

Founded by combat veteran Craig Henderson, Extract Labs was born as an alternative solution for PSTD and chronic pain. Henderson didn’t want to hop on the CBD bandwagon because it seemed like a good investment, he wanted to create a product cleaner, safer, and healthier than pharmaceuticals but with just as much success. That’s why all of Extract Labs’ products (not just the tinctures) are cGMP, certified kosher, and use only organic ingredients. And lemme tell ya, as someone who suffers from chronic pain and anxiety, Extract Labs creates products that actually work and nip these problems right in the butt! Don’t believe me? The company is the INDO EXPO recipient for the 2018 Best Isolate award, and both the 2018 and 2019 Best Extractor awards.

My faves from Extract Labs include the Broad Spectrum Tincture and Pure CBD Isolate tincture, but if you’re looking for something less earthy and a little sweeter, I recommend trying the Lemon, Raspberry, or Banana Foster tinctures.

Price: $30-$105

4) Select CBD

Select CBD is my go-to for CBD tincture because it’s one of the few brands that not only nailed the flavor but the consistency of the drops, too! Which, for anyone who’s tried tincture before, knows just how hard it can be to find a product that won’t make you gag. I suggest trying the Lemon Ginger drops because they won’t knock you out like the Lavender tincture, but will provide you with energizing, mood-boosting benefits (did I mention it tastes great?!).

Select CBD is not for sale online and can only be purchased at participating retailers, so yeah, you’ll have to leave your house to get your hands on it, but it’s well worth the extra effort!

Price: Varies by retailer


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*First Published: Mar 9, 2020, 1:30 pm CDT