You probably read a lot about CBD these days. How it can make your life better, and maybe help with some ailments such as insomnia, anxiety. Or how CBD is used as a mean to improve athletic performance by some of the top athletes in the world.
You want to give it a try, but don’t know which brands to trust? Here are our 3 golden rules for choosing the best CBD oil in Europe (and in the UK / Ireland more specifically).
TL;DR: trust only European manufacturers which cultivate organic hemp and produce their CBD oil inside of the European Union, and who publish third party lab testings on their websites.
Rule #1: Purchase exclusively CBD oil coming from the European Union (and avoid CBD oils coming from the USA or from Switzerland)
Great news: hemp has always been cultivated in Europe, and the European Union has put a very strict regulatory framework around it: only a few dozen varieties are authorised, all of them containing no more than 0.2% THC. This strict regulation comes up with a lot of controls, and it already a proof of quality and safety in itself.
Secondly, on top of CBD being itself a sensitive topic by nature, the food, food safety and cosmetics regulations at the EU and countries levels are strict and conservative (which is great for protecting consumers), difficult to navigate and only manufacturers grounded here can be on top of everything.
Last but not least, European consumers have a history of putting the bar very high bar in terms of quality and transparency expectations. Some CBD manufacturers play the game of being 100% transparent and publish third party laboratory testing results on their websites (e.g. here), do not hesitate to check them out.
Consequently, we can consider that CBD / hemp is one of the most transparent supply chains in the food industry in Europe, if you go with a renowned manufacturer such as Fyllde.
Why shouldn’t I trust CBD oils imported from the USA?
There are a few really great CBD oil brands out there in the US. But also a lot of very bad ones. In fact, up to 70% of CBD oils in the US are mislabeled, sometimes leading to serious issues (some contain too much THC, some have less CBD or no CBD at all, some may be polluted with heavy metals..).
Also, there are a lot of US states where marijuana is legal. Some manufacturers would extract CBD from marijuana, which is clearly illegal in Europe. And even when extracted from hemp, the crops allowed for cultivation in the US may contain up to 0.3% of THC which is above what is authorised in Europe, leading to illegal products as well.
It’s wise to apply here the precautionary principle and avoid using any CBD oil that is imported from the United States of America. Keep your eyes opened, as a lot of stores and e-shops distribute American products in Europe…
Why shouldn’t I go with CBD oils imported from Switzerland?
Switzerland is peculiar: they are at the heart of Europe but not in the European Union. They have been much more liberal than the rest of the world on Cannabis quite early on. In fact they allow the cultivation of Cannabis varieties which contain up to 1% of THC (the stuff that can get people high), which is way more than the 0.2% allowed in Europe. Interestingly enough to note, It is even allowed there to smoke what they call “light Cannabis” for recreational purpose (i.e. getting a little bit high).
Some Swiss manufacturers created specific product lines for the European Union, trying to keep the THC rate below 0.2% to comply with European regulations. But even if the THC rate complies, there is no guarantee that they extract their CBD from hemp species which are authorised in the EU, so their products may be deemed illegal and held by customs. If you read reviews from Swiss shops, you can see dozens of complaints from customers who never received their parcels because they were seized.
As a consequence, we can’t advise to purchase CBD oil from a Swiss manufacturer or a Swiss shop as there a chance you will never receive your parcel.
What will happen in the UK post Brexit?
First, we still hope that the outcome will never be a “no deal” (fingers crossed)
In any case, the Food Safety Agency in the UK announced they will remain very aligned with the rest of Europe in regards to CBD. We can probably expect them to align the upcoming British regulations on the EU standards for the hemp and CBD oil industries. And we also hope that any type of goods will be able to freely move between the UK and the EU…
Rule #2: Prefer CBD oil coming from organic hemp
Hemp is a bioaccumulator: put simply, it’s one of the best options to clean up polluted soils from stuff like heavy metals. So if the soil is polluted, there is a big chance the CBD oil made from it would be polluted as well.
Luckily most of the hemp farmers in EU switched to organic methods a long, long time ago. And producing CBD oil from organic hemp crops is a good guarantee that it won’t contain any heavy metals such as lead or arsenic.
Wait, I bought this CBD oil supposedly organic, but they don’t have the EU organic logo?
Going through the certification process to get the EU green leaf on label is long and expensive. And it’s not a golden goose egg as it guarantees only that 95% of the ingredients are organic. At Fyllde we’re reviewing the different organic certifications available in Europe as we really want to be on top of things before making an informed choice on the one we will go through (we’ll post on that in the near future).
Rule #3: Do NEVER EVER buy CBD oil on Amazon or Ebay
Amazon or Ebay have to comply with outdated federal regulations in the US which prohibits the sale of CBD oil on their platforms. As a consequence they enforce very strict policies everywhere in the world, including where hemp and CBD is fully legal.
In fact we naively placed Fyllde oils on Amazon.fr, with listings “by the books” and they were taken down a few days later by their bots. Later on we received a message from the customer service telling they were sorry they have to apply these silly policies.
But I don’t understand. I found plenty of CBD oils on Amazon, how is that even possible?
Indeed, typing CBD oil Amazon in Google would bring hundreds, if not thousands of results.
Simply because some sneaky manufacturers see these platforms as a way to monetise quickly a very promising industry, and they do anything they can to fool the Amazon and eBay bots or teams to get their listing approved – from false labelling to typos (“CBD” becoming “CB”, or CB_D !)
Why shoudn’t I trust these options?
Well, if these manufacturers do anything they can to fool companies such as Amazon, would you trust what is in their products? Beyond that some of these products may come from outside the European Union, or contain synthetic CBD. At Fyllde, we are committed to raising the bar in the CBD industry and we truly believe such practices may damage the image of CBD in the long run.
To summarise: to play on the safe side, choose your CBD oils from a EU manufacturer which sources organic hemp cultivated in Europe and publishes third party lab testing!