How To Read A CBD Label

With so many CBD products on the market, you need to be sure to buy the best CBD product for your specific health and wellness needs. If you are new to CBD and you are making your first purchase, you definitely want to spend some time comparing product labels. This applies whether you are shopping over the counter, online or in a licensed adult-use and medical cannabis store.

Part of the problem with CBD purchases is that label requirements vary state by state. However, beyond state requirements, there are no FDA regulations around CBD. This means some products that state they contain “hemp oil” may or may not contain CBD. [1] This is particularly important since a big part of your decision making should be on how much CBD a product contains.

Here are key things to look for on the label of a CBD product in making your purchase decision:

CBD Dosage

The most important thing to look for on the label is CBD dosage. The amount of CBD will be stated in milligrams or as a percentage on the label.  Milligrams refer to the amount of CBD in the product. This is the most commonly used listing format in the United States.

On the other hand, the percentage that is shown on the labels, whether it’s 10, 15 or 30 percent indicates the concentration of CBD.  This is based on the actual weight of the CBD as a portion of the total weight of the liquid in the bottle.  This may be more difficult to determine.   You also need to factor in the size of the bottle – 10ml, 30 ml and so forth. So, 500mg of CBD in a 10ml bottle is a strength of 5 percent CBD.  This is a less commonly used way of stating the amount of CBD in the product.

Serving Size/Servings Per Container

Many CBD labels also will include the number and size of CBD servings in each package. However, since there is not standard serving of CBD, the right serving will depend on your weight, metabolism, condition, method of consumption, and more. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor what the appropriate serving size is for you and the condition you are treating.

Source of CBD Oil

Know the source of the CBD. CBD products in the medical and adult-use cannabis markets often contain THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. Hemp-derived CBD comes from industrial hemp plants consisting of less than 0.3% THC.

Also watch for the terms regarding the CBD spectrum. The two main CBD types or spectrums are full spectrum and isolate. The difference refers to the range of naturally-occurring compounds found in the cannabis plant. Full-spectrum CBD products include all of these compounds, which means they have THC.  Isolates are the purest form of CBD since all the other compounds and impurities have been removed.  There also is another less-common CBD spectrum called broad-spectrum CBD, which can be considered a mix between the full-spectrum and isolate.  Broad-spectrum CBD preserves the range of plant compounds but THC has been removed.

Manufacturing Date

CBD will degrade over time so look for the manufacturing date to find out how old the product is.


As with other products and medications, CBD products should include information about storage to ensure quality and potency. Also check the product’s expiration date so you are sure you are consuming fresh, potent CBD.

Finally, look for other ingredients. most CBD products have other ingredients. Gummies will commonly contain glycerin, colors, and flavors. Tinctures often come mixed with some other oil, spirits, or glycerin. Carefully review these ingredients for quality, purity, and the presence of potential allergens. Also consider any warning labels about drug interactions. [2]

[1] Downs, David, “How to read a CBD label,” Leafly, November 21, 2019.
[2] IBID