Where to Buy CBD: Online vs. In Stores

By | Updated on November 9, 2023

Evidence Based 2

Buying CBD for the first time can be confusing. Should you shop online or look for products in person at a local store? The second option might sound better initially because you don’t have to wait to get your product.

But the truth is that shopping for CBD online is better because it’s easy to find reputable brands and check third-party test results to make sure your products are accurate and safe. Still, buying CBD in person has its advantages, too. 

Keep reading for a detailed guide on where to buy CBD and other important considerations. 

Buying CBD Online

Buying CBD online is the best overall option for several reasons:

  • You can look at the company’s third-party test reports, called certificates of analysis (CoA). An independent lab does these tests to prove that the CBD product contains as much CBD and other cannabinoids as advertised and is free of contaminants.
  • You can easily look up the company’s customer reviews, reputation, and other helpful details, like where its hemp is grown and whether it’s certified organic by the USDA.
  • You have access to a much wider variety of brands and products, whereas your local store might not carry the specific brand you’re looking for (or any top-tier CBD company, for that matter).
  • You can easily compare CBD brands by checking their reviews, third-party CoAs, prices, and more.
  • It’s usually cheaper to buy CBD online; plus, you get money-saving offers like subscriptions and can take advantage of significant discounts on Black Friday
  • It’s incredibly convenient: choose your products and have them delivered straight to your door.

Did you know? Research from 2022 shows that 39.2% of people buy their CBD products online, 19.5% from pharmacies, 10.7% from CBD specialty retailers, 7.2% from natural food stores and vitamin retailers, and 23.4% from other sources. 

example of a third-party cbd test report
Example of a third-party test report (CoA) for CBD capsules.

Buying Online From Individual CBD Brands

The vast majority of people buy CBD products from individual CBD company websites. Although there are hundreds of CBD brands to choose from, there aren’t many high-quality, reputable options. We’ve reviewed and tested over 50 CBD brands. The top five best CBD brands we recommend are:

1. Lazarus Naturals

Lazarus Naturals is the #1 CBD brand we’ve reviewed because it offers exceptional quality at some of the lowest prices in the industry. The products we tested were highly effective and affordable.

Lazarus Naturals controls every step of the process, from growing the USDA-certified organic hemp in central Oregon to extraction and formulating the finished products. It’s also an ethical, employee-owned company that offers a massive 60% discount for military, first responders, and other qualifying groups. 

Overall Rating: 4.9/5

2. R&R CBD

Based in Colorado, the heart of the CBD industry, R&R CBD is another top-tier brand. It uses USDA-certified organic hemp, and many of its products are also certified organic, which is no easy feat. We tested its CBD oil and other products, which are both potent and priced below average. Another awesome thing about R&R is that their third-party tests are very detailed and even show the levels of terpenes, which should be present in full-spectrum CBD products. 

Overall Rating: 4.8/5

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3. Upstate Elevator Supply Co.

Vermont’s Upstate Elevator is another exceptional CBD company. It grows its own proprietary strains of hemp suited for Vermont’s short growing season, which are also certified organic by the USDA. The products we tested worked well, and the prices are some of the lowest in the CBD industry. 

Overall Rating: 4.8/5

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4. Endoca

Founded in 2010 in Denmark, Endoca is one of the oldest CBD companies in the world. It focuses on making high-quality, full-spectrum CBD products that are as potent and effective as possible. They’re sourced from EU-certified organic hemp grown in Denmark. If you’re in the market for extra-potent CBD oil without any bells or whistles, Endoca is a great pick. 

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

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5. CBDistillery

Colorado’s CBDistillery is one of the most popular American CBD brands. It’s backed by over 40,000 satisfied customer reviews and is one of the most transparent companies in the industry. You can choose from a huge variety of products to suit your needs. We tested its CBD oils and gummies, finding them effective. 

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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Buying From Online CBD Marketplaces

The second option for buying CBD online is to shop at marketplaces. The key difference is that CBD marketplaces offer products from many different brands in one place. This makes them a good option if you want to:

  • Test out products from multiple brands
  • Buy many CBD products at once because marketplaces often give discounts for large orders

We’ve shopped at several CBD marketplaces, and our #1 pick is CBD.co. Thanks to its hefty discounts, you can get products cheaper than buying directly from brands when you spend $99 or more. We ended up saving 30% on a large order, and all the products we received were in good condition and worked well.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Buying CBD At a Store

CBD products we found at a local Publix store in Florida.

Although we recommend buying CBD online, you can also buy CBD in person from grocery stores, supplement and health food shops, pharmacies, vape shops, individual CBD brand shops, dispensaries, gas stations, and other brick-and-mortar locations.

Buying CBD in person at a store does have some advantages:

  • You get your product right away
  • You can get a feel for the product before buying it
  • You may be able to find store staff that specialize in CBD and can answer your questions and help you make an informed buying decision

But the problem with buying CBD at a store is that the quality and variety of products vary drastically. For example, there’s a huge difference between buying CBD at a gas station or a small supplement store where you probably won’t recognize any of the brand names vs. a health food store carrying major brands with staff knowledgeable about CBD.

And even if you’re lucky enough to find a reputable shop selling CBD, it’s still difficult to check third-party CoA tests for the products you want to buy. 

Not all CBD products come with a QR code; even if they do, you’ll have to scan them with your phone and spend time reading the tests right there and then. It’s way less convenient than looking up third-party CoAs when you shop online.

If you’re set on buying CBD from a store, we recommend buying from a specific CBD brand’s shop or a store that sells products from leading brands. On the other hand, you should never buy CBD from gas stations.

Important Questions When Buying CBD

Does the product come with a third-party test (CoA)?

You should always check the latest available third-party lab test results (CoAs) for the product you want to buy because they will verify the levels of CBD and other cannabinoids and check for contaminants. You can find these on the company’s website; some brands also add a QR code to the product packaging that you can scan to see the CoAs.

Is the product full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate?

CBD extract comes in three kinds: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the beneficial cannabinoids and other compounds naturally found in hemp, including small amounts (<0.3%) of THC. It’s considered the most effective form of CBD. Broad-spectrum is similar but with the THC removed. CBD isolate is just pure CBD by itself; it’s considered much less effective.

What is the strength of the product?

Potency or strength refers to the concentration of CBD in a product, which is usually measured as one full dropper (1ml) of CBD oil, one capsule, one gummy, or a similar measure. It can vary from as little as 5 mg to as much as 300 mg. 

Although the right strength depends on your CBD dosage, we recommend shopping for products that provide at least 20 mg of CBD per dose. Once you figure out how much CBD is ideal for you through trial and error, you can choose CBD products with a similar potency. As a rough guideline, most people take 20-100 mg doses of CBD once or twice daily. 

What’s the hemp source of the product?

All CBD products are derived from hemp, the non-intoxicating variety of cannabis that was legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill. But as you might expect, hemp can vary drastically in quality. Some signs of high-quality hemp include USDA organic certification, vertical integration (a company that grows and extracts its own hemp rather than using other producers), US Hemp Authority certification, and clear details about where or how the hemp is grown. You can typically find this information on the CBD company’s website. 

Are there any ingredients you want to avoid?

Let’s say you’re vegan and want to use CBD capsules or gummies. You should check the ingredients and avoid gelatin, which is an animal product often used to make capsules and gummies. Or maybe you want to avoid artificial flavoring in CBD gummies. Whatever the case, if you want to get (or avoid) specific ingredients, be sure to check the ingredients list of the specific product. 

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