Third party product testing and reporting is a must in today’s anarchical CBD market. The question then becomes, “How do we quantify the quality of a CBD product?”.
There are four categories that we score to give the consumer proper insights into what they are taking. The four categories we score CBD products on are Potency, Effects, Taste, and Packaging.
Not all categories are created equal so instead of just averaging the four scores, we apply a weighted average with significant value placed on the potency.
The weighted average outputs the overall CBD Informative Score (CBDI Score). All scores are out of ten.
We use an 8-point weighted average system with the following point distribution:
- Potency: 5
- Effects: 1
- Taste: 1
- Packaging: 1
Note: We don’t measure the taste of topical products, therefore we take the 1-point weight that is given to Taste and divide it up between Effects and Packaging giving a total of 1.5 weight to each.
Potency is the most important and least subjective giving it the highest weight. The other categories are more subjective yet have some importance in the consumer’s decision.
How the Scores are Chosen
The Potency Score starts at 10 and is conditionally lowered based on our third-party lab report data.
In short, we find the variance between the company’s claimed potency and what our lab test found. The higher the variance, the more points deducted.
Because the potency varies by product and by the lab’s testing process, we give a 10% margin of error before we deduct points. If the product is more than 10% over or under, our algorithm takes the remaining variance and multiplies it by ten to get how many points to take off.
So if the variance is 30%, 10% is allowed which leaves 20% that will be penalized 2 points (20%*10).
The industry is a bit disorganized on what the label’s claim really means. Does 1,000 MG of CBD oil mean there is 1,000 MG of the CBD cannabinoid or does that also include the CBDa cannabinoid? What if the CBD is full spectrum meaning that is contains other naturally occurring cannabinoids? Does their claim include these other cannabinoids?
There are different approaches to solving this and we outlined one that we use to score the products.
In a CBD product, we consider the potency level to include active CBD cannabinoids (CBD & CBDa) and active THC cannabinoids (THCa and Δ9-THC). Other cannabinoids, such as THCVa and CBDVa, are not considered in our potency score at this time.
The choice of including THC in our potency score stems from two main reasons:
- Full Spectrum implies other cannabinoids
- THC and CBD have healing properties*
*We do not offer medical advice.
If the company made a THC Claim (e.g. 10% THC), then we calculate demerits the same way we do with CBD. We have a 10% allowance and after that each percent essentially is one point deducted.
If the company made no obvious THC claims, then we have an allowance of 1% max THC. Anything above 1% gets deducted by multiplying the remaining percent by 1,000. So each .1 increase is a deduction of 1 point.
Note: The United States Government decided that .3% is the legal threshold. This number was arbitrarily derived and the government is currently under pressure to raise it. However, we believe extensive studies should be carried out to best quantify what the threshold should be taking into consideration drug testing and effects. Here’s another website that goes into this subject a bit more.
Now time for the more subjective ratings. To limit too much personal opinion, we give each product to at least two people for at least two weeks and have them report back their feedback independent of each other.
The average of each tester’s reported Effects Score.
The average of each tester’s reported Taste Score.
The average of each tester’s reported Packaging Score.
Here are some real scenarios that we’ve deducted packaging points for:
- A product was falsely advertised as a Jimmy Buffet product. Upon receiving it, the packaging had no correlation to Jimmy Buffet. It did however score well in Potency which especially gives the need for our scoring system to have an arbitrary deduction.
- A CBD Gummies product was coated in sugar, however, the nutritional facts omitted any sugar reporting.
The final score is called the CBD Informative Score, or CBDI Score for short, and is assigned to every product we test. Check out the cbd product rankings to see how the products we’ve tested stack up against each other from top to bottom.