that must be extrapolated. Because CBD is so new and
obscure to the average consumer, Patterson says, intro-
duction to the category typically exposes several perti-
Is this pot?
Is this illegal?
Will this get me high?
Will I fail a drug test?
For cannabis, the answer to each of these is yes, but the
same is untrue for CBD.
“If the ;rst four questions from a consumer are all of
those things, that means that there’s a distinction that
they’re looking for,” Patterson says. “So if we confuse the
two in any situation, then we’re just adding to customer
confusion, and that means not the death of a category, but
not realizing the opportunity of a category.”
Experts believe the realization of the CBD category
depends greatly on its representation by the industry as
solely a health and wellness category, independent from
cannabis and all the legal rami;cations and consumer
qualms that are tied to it.
What’s more, just as the categorical distinction between
CBD and cannabis thus far remains hazy, labeling also
poses a challenge, says Jessica Lukas, VP of consumer
insights for Boulder, Colo.-based BDS Analytics. Retailers
must “push for consistent or at least clear labeling and communication from all products carried in the store,” Lukas
says. Otherwise, “;it; will do the consumer and the industry
a disservice if every product is labeled di;erently,” she says.
Given the lack of regulation—coupled with the in;ux
of products and excitement around hemp-derived CBD—
industry terminology is tremendously inconsistent, caus-
ing confusion for both consumers and retailers new to the
category. Most notable is the discrepancy between the
terms “hemp extract” and “CBD”; they are, in fact, not
Although hemp is now legal, the FDA says CBD cannot
be used in food or dietary supplements because it is listed
as “an active ingredient in a drug product,” called Epidiolex—an FDA-approved treatment for epilepsy, owned
by GW Pharmaceuticals. As such, the FDA considers all
other CBD products to be “adulterated” or “misbranded,”
according to Hemp Industry Daily’s recent Farm Bill report.
“That three-letter term is representative of a pharma-
ceutical medication,” Patterson says. “When you put that
on the label, you are in fact impersonating a pharmaceu-
However, the FDA has only sporadically enforced its
ban on adding CBD to food, drugs and cosmetics. And
while further regulation remains in limbo, companies and
retailers are generally left to their own discretion, with
some taking the risky route toward CBD terminology—
latching onto the phrase’s mounting momentum—while
others have chosen the direction of discretion, identifying
The ABCs of CBD
“Think of CBD oil as an
essential oil, much
like lavender or
—Erica McBride Stark, National Hemp Association
Cannabidiol (CBD): One of the
primary cannabinoids found in
cannabis; not associated with
typical psychoactive e;ects.
(THC): One of the primary
cannabinoids found in cannabis;
associated with psychoactive
Broad spectrum: A cannabis
product that contains more
than just CBD, such as minor
cannabinoids and terpenes, but
usually no THC.
produced by the cannabis plant.
Cannabis: A family of plants
that may be referred to as either
indica or sativa; indica is usually
associated with marijuana, and
sativa with hemp.
Cannabis oil: An oil derived
from cannabis; can be used to
describe CBD oil, but is often
used to describe high THC oils.
CBD oil: A cannabis product
(hemp- or marijuana-derived)
that is high in CBD.
A biological system of
the body composed of
produced naturally by the
body, that seeks balance or
Full spectrum: A cannabis
product that contains not
only CBD but also other
cannabinoids (usually THC)
and terpenes in their naturally
Hemp: Any cannabis plant
containing less than 0.3% THC
on a dry-weight basis.
Hemp oil: An oil derived from
hemp cannabis, usually as hemp
seed oil; also can be CBD oil.
Isolate: A cannabis product
that contains only CBD.
Marijuana: Any cannabis plant
containing more than 0.3% THC
on a dry-weight basis.
Terpenes: Oils found in all
plants that give the plant scent,
flavor and additional benefits.
Terpsolate: A cannabis
product that contains CBD and
Sources: Hemp Health Zone/MarketHub