The world of CBDs is a bit overwhelming. Ever since I wrote a short review about San Luis Obispo-based producer Mender in June, there’s been a steady string of deliveries of capsules, balms, and vape pens from around the country to my desk. None of these products get you high — unlike the stone-inducing THC part of cannabis, CBD, or cannabidiol, doesn’t really have much obvious psychoactive effect. But they all offer a seemingly unending range of beneficial wellness effects, from better sleep to less stress, pain relief to smoother, uh, beards.
The science is starting to line up to support some of those beliefs. But when it comes to determining what effect this brown pill or that foggy vape pull has on my well-being, the immediate results are far from obvious. Like other “alternative medicines” — and we can even throw doctor-endorsed vitamins in that mix — it may only be after prolonged and sustained use that CBDs will fully ease one’s woes.
That said, a rather untracked and somewhat sporadic combination of the following products have helped me sleep better, mellow out during stressful stretches, and even soothe a sore foot, perhaps from both the inside (via a capsule) and out (via a balm). The flavorful vape pens have become a go-to chill-out item in my house, and a good friend swore that one of the balms brought his out-of-whack lower back into better form. I’m starting to think a certain salve is clearing up some dry skin on my shin too.
Here’s the smorgasbord that’s run through my household over the past few months. All of these products can be purchased through the company website, as it remains legal to ship CBD across state lines.
Bluebird Botanicals: Though initially using hemp grown in Kentucky when they started in 2012, Bluebird Botanicals shifted farming to their home state of Colorado in 2017. They produce a wide range of CBD items: capsules, oils, concentrates, and vape oils for humans as well as capsules and oils for pets, and isolates, which is essentially powered CBD. Packaged in vitamin-like bottles, Bluebird feels like a blue-chip CBD company — not a lot of hype, just honest, well-made products. $25-$14,000 (for 1000 grams of isolate!); bluebirdbotanicals.com
JuJu Royal: Bob Marley’s son Julian Marley is behind this line of sublingual tablets, disposable vape pens, and vape juices. They sent me their line of vape juices, which come in three flavors: Reggae Splash (passionfruit-mango-sour apple), JuJu Juice (guava-pineapple-strawberry), and Kingston Cream (banana-strawberry-blueberry). Keep in mind, you will need your own vape pen for this, for which I used the Rubi (see below). It’s hard to dislike the flavor of these juices — they’re like breathing in a candy smoothie — and the vapor is thick and impressive, in case you need to show off. $18-$89; jujuroyal.net
Lazarus Naturals: This company, like many of the others, produces a wide range of products, and all are packaged very cleanly and professionally: the capsules look like vitamin bottles you’d see in health stores while the balm tins are reminiscent of spa and beauty shops. The balms are particularly well-done, made from mango butter, organic beeswax, coconut oil, and other nice-smelling extracts, and rub on very smoothly. Most compelling, the employee-owned Portland, Oregon company puts its discounts where its pro-CBD mouth is, offering 40 percent off to veterans, active military, those with long-term disability, and low-income households. $12-$200; lazarusnaturals.com
Quanta: This Burbank brand is based in a technology that almost sounds more like magic, in which quantum physics is used to enhance the “bio-energy” of the CBD and make it react more quickly with your body. This is the muscle rub that my friend used on his thrown-out back, and he thinks it both numbed the pain and enabled a quicker recovery. The sleek, small pen tastes very mild and feels very down-to-business without flavor frills. $46-$60; quantacbd.com
Rubi by KandyPens: If you’re going to get into the vape juice game, you’ll need your own vape pen. This is a simple, clean, and, if needed, discreet device by Kandy Pens, a company that was founded in Santa Barbara. It’s just four inches long, holds 1 mL of liquid (which you carefully eye-drop into the small chamber), and charges via a simple USB-enabled jack (like most everything these days). Beyond that, there are no buttons to push, as it is pull-activated. It comes in an array of colors, from black to hot pink. The Vape Guide just named it their favorite pen of this sort. $50; kandypens.com
Silk Road: Perhaps the best designed, smartly packaged, elegantly flavored, and easy-to-use products in this roundup, the Silk Road vape pens come in three different moods: Relax (with lavender and chamomile, for stress relief and sleep); Focus (grapefruit, bergamot, and peppermint, for energy/creativity); and Relief (tangerine, lemongrass, and spearmint, for soreness/cramps/headaches). Sporting the hashtag #DitchThePills, the line — which also includes a sister series with THC — was created by San Francisco-based David Kram after losing his 26-year-old brother to an opioid overdose. Each pull delivers a moderate amount of soft vapor, and there are about 110 doses per pen. $49; silkroadbrand.com
SingleSeed: This Phoenix-based company sells a wide range of items: CBD water, gummies, capsules, lozenges, patches, roll-ons, vape cartridges, vape juices, powders, mists, serums, etc. They sent me the gummies (like skunky candy); the $5 capsule two-pack (lots of packaging compared to other capsule bottles, but an affordable way to start); Nano Salve (which also includes St. John’s wort, arnica, lobelia leaf, peppermint, and cayenne pepper); body lotion (caramel cream aroma); and hair and beard oil (a first for me, and still waiting for results). In short, a one-stop shop. Prices vary; singleseed.com