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How to Buy CBD and Medical Cannabis/Marijuana by Marcella Povis

Over the holidays one of my family members said to me,”Oh I have the CBD cream and it didn’t really work for me.” To which I responded, “you haven’t tried mine.” Minutes after giving him a sample he exclaimed he could close his fist, which he was unable to do beforehand. He was surprised and ecstatic. The reason I tell you this is because not all CBD, or cannabis, products are created equally. I’ve heard that CBD products within the industry are like the wild-wild west; anyone can put anything in these products because they are not regulated in anyway.

Thus I am going to provide you with empowering information for you to have the next time you go shopping for CBD or cannabis products.

Buying CBD

Goals of every CBD consumer:

Find a safe product

Find an effective product

High value for low cost

Additionally, I encourage CBD consumers to support organizations that demonstrate environmental and social responsibility, and when possible, to support local businesses.

Here's how to SUCCEED:

Certificate of analysis (COA)

Every CBD producer must have tested its product prior to labeling, right? They should therefore be able to produce a certificate of analysis that quantifies the contents. I encourage all consumers to contact companies and request this certificate. It should contain:

-cannabinoid and terpene potencies

-contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, microbes, and mold toxins (mycotoxins)

-a (recent) date and batch number that can clearly associated with the product in hand

-verification that the testing was performed by a third-party, independent analytical lab.

Some companies test their CBD concentrate, then dilute it in oil and simply do the math to achieve their labeled potency. In my opinion, this is unacceptable - the final product should be tested.

Other important questions:

Is the CBD produced from domestic hemp or imported hemp?

Is it certified organic?

What processing methods were used? CO2, ethanol, hydrocarbons, distillation...?

Is it considered broad spectrum or isolate?

Is the facility good manufacturing practices (GMP) certified?

Does the person you're speaking with work for the company that produces the product, or just a reseller?

Can the organization demonstrate any evidence of environmental or social stewardship?


Read the label. If there are any ingredients you're not familiar with (or can't pronounce), look them up, or choose a product with simpler, more natural ingredients.

Vapes, topicals, food items

CBD vape pens often contain toxic ingredients found in nicotine e-liquids, and based on a study described in the "Challenges in the CBD Marketplace" section, frequently contaminated with heavy metals and other toxins. While vape pens are convenient and discreet, my strong advice is to inhale CBD-dominant cannabis using a flower vaporizer.

Topical CBD products are more likely to be effective if they are more potent: 0.5% should be the minimum, while some effective products contain up to 2% CBD by weight.

Food items, especially gummies, are often challenging for laboratory analytical equipment and methods. Even with a COA, it can be hard to know for sure if the potency and purity results are accurate.


Do the math and calculate the cost per milligram. Most products range between $0.02 and $0.20 per milligram of CBD.

Example: CBD oil, 2 ounce bottle, 10mg/ml potency, $100. (2 fluid ounces = 60ml)

$cost/mg CBD = $100/(10x60) = $0.16 per milligram

Check out Natural Journey's CBD products in the shop

Buying Cannabis/Medical Marijuana


Talk with other patients. Word-of-mouth is often the best source of information. Consider attending a support group or chat with other patients in an online forum.

Call a local cannabis-testing laboratory and ask them which suppliers are consistently bringing in top quality products.

Call a few suppliers and ask the following questions: (By the time you get their responses, you’ll likely be able to tell if they’re the kind of establishment you want to buy medicine from).

Do you use an independent laboratory to test your medicine for potency and/or contamination (mold, bacteria, pesticides, solvents)?

Do you carry organic or pesticide-free products?

Do you carry CBD-rich products (not from industrial hemp)?

Do you sell non-smokable forms of cannabis, such as tinctures or salves?

What is the average cost per gram of herbal cannabis?


Spend less than $100 on medicine. Many new patients are convinced to buy much more than they need. You may also want to purchase a vaporizer for $50-$400 (more on vaporizers below).

Decide if you want to use a specific delivery method (e.g. inhalation, oral, topical). If you’re not sure, I recommend trying both inhalation and oral for most conditions, plus topical if you’re treating pain or skin conditions.

Purchase small amounts of a variety of different products. Every person has an individualized response to cannabis, and the purpose of your first trip is to sample enough products to get a better idea of what’s right for you.


Raw Cannabis Flowers – for inhalation and raw consumption

Choose 2-4 strains from the following categories and purchase 1 gram each. Make your final selection by choosing the bud that has the most appealing aroma to you.[1]

-Daytime strain (energizing)

-Nighttime strain (promotes sleep)

-Condition specific strain (most popular with other people who have your same condition) Use strain finder

-Non-psychoactive strain (CBD-dominant)[2]

Inhalation Device:

-Vaporizers: tabletop, AC-powered models are often less expensive, easier to use and clean, and longer lasting. Purchase a portable, battery-operated model only if you’re sure you want the convenience. Your vaporizer should have a variable temperature gauge so you can control the smoke content. Avoid products that expose plastic to high temperatures so you don’t inhale plastic fumes.

-Smoking: use a glass or stone pipe with a long stem and without water filtration. Purchase a hemp/beeswax wick so you can avoid inhaling lighter fumes.

Cannabis Tincture – for oral use

-Look for products that have been lab tested to contain a known potency (milligrams cannabinoids per milliliter of tincture). Potencies between 2mg/ml and 20 mg/ml will work. It’s important to make sure the lab checked for decarboxylation (heat activation) – at least 50% decarboxylation is preferable. Heated and unheated products have very different effects.

-Choose an oil-based tincture if available. Alcohol-based tinctures can be harsh in the mouth, and glycerin-based tinctures are often very low in potency, but any of the three types of tinctures can make a good medicine if they’re prepared correctly and used in the right dosage.

-Most tinctures are made from a blend of strains. If specific strain tinctures are available, choose based on your needs for daytime, nighttime, condition-specific, or non-psychoactive.

-Purchase the equivalent of 30-100 mg of cannabinoids to evaluate the product.

Topical Cannabis Salves - Purchase a small amount to try on areas of pain, inflammation, or itching.

Other Useful Supplies

-Small digital scale

-5ml oral syringe for accurate tincture dosing

-Herb grinder for use with vaporizer

-Glass jars for storage

-Timer or stopwatch

Endocannabinoid-enhancing foods

-Hemp seeds

-Flax seeds (grind at home in a coffee grinder)

-Chia Seeds


-Sardines and anchovies

-Raw chocolate (cocoa nibs, raw cocoa powder)

-Dark chocolate (at least 70% dark)

What to Avoid for Beginners:

-Edibles and capsules

-Hemp-based CBD products

-Concentrates (i.e. hash, kief, dabs, wax, shatter, RSO, extract)

-Liquid-based vaporizers

-Highest-potency THC strains


These terms describe three categories of cannabis strains that may have distinct characteristics. Indica strains may be better for pain relief and more sedating. Sativa strains may be more energizing, mentally stimulating and mood lifting. Hybrid strains may offer the best of both worlds. In reality, these classifications are often not an effective way to guide consumer choice. Use the guidelines above to find the best products instead of choosing indica vs sativa.


While some strains are named for their medicinal qualities, many have names that are not descriptive, and some not at all appropriate for a healing herb. Two products with the same strain name, from different producers or different harvests, may in fact have very different medicinal effects. The best way to distinguish between strains is to look closely and observe the aroma.

Also, keep a journal or what you’ve tried, what has worked and what has not worked. Record the answers to all the questions listed for each product to narrow what works best for you. Please keep in mind, medical cannabis and CBD are not covered by insurance; everything will be an out-of-pocket expense. In conclusion, if you have any other questions or concerns about buying CBD or medical cannabis/marijuana seek out a certified professional who can guide you on what may be best for you and possibly offer recommendations. I am happy to help in any way possible simply call/text 314-800-4535, or email

Check out Natural Journey's CBD products in the shop

[1]The compounds in cannabis that create the aroma, known as terpenes, are physiologically active and can modify the medicinal effect.

[2]The psychoactivity of a strain is mostly based on the ratio of CBD:THC. At 1:1 the psychoactivity begins to diminish, and at 4:1 or higher most users will not experience a psychoactive effect.


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