By Jessica Cobb, Certified Aromatherapist:
Why is CBD So Expensive?
If you’ve done some research on CBD, you’ve probably already suffered from serious sticker shock. It costs HOW much per bottle? Why is this product so expensive?
There’s no getting around it: CBD as a supplement will set you back more than just a few dollars.
For example, the average price of CBD per milligram hovers around $0.15 per mg. That means that a standard 500 mg, 30 mL bottle of sublingual CBD will set you back about $75.00, not including tax or shipping.
You can easily calculate the cost per mg of CBD for any product by using these two numbers:
- The price of a product
- The CBD content in that product
Using this formula, you calculate the cost per mg of CBD like this:
Product price / CBD content in mg = Price per milligram of CBD content
So for the example above, using average costs per mg of CBD, our math looks like this:
$75 / 500 mg = $0.15 per mg
In case you were wondering, Plant Therapy’s cost per mg of CBD is $0.08 per mg of CBD, so we’re doing pretty good!
For some people, they’re willing and able to pay high the price without a second thought. But for customers with more conservative budgets, the high price tag can be seriously daunting. They may instead end up purchasing inferior CBD products that might be incorrectly labeled, impure, or even (worst case scenario) unsafe, rather than lab-tested, high-quality CBD because of the price.
If you’re curious about why the price of CBD is so high and want to help understand and justify the price tag, keep reading. We’re going to break down the costs that come with creating quality CBD products.
Costs start to rise before seeds are even planted.
Costs begin before hemp seeds are even planted. Agricultural costs such as seeds, farming equipment, labor, state, city, and county licenses. Hemp growers are also required to source seeds below a specific amount of THC, which can be hard to find. Additionally, with farming hemp comes even more testing and reporting costs than other agricultural crops, due to the legal grey area of cannabis plants and rapidly changing state laws. This means more money, time and paperwork for the grower.
For example, these costs can be as low as $25 in Vermont, to upwards of $500-$1,000 in other states depending on the licenses needed, and in some cases, growers are also charged a $5 per acre fee.
Harvesting and Extraction Costs
Once a hemp grower has invested the money, time and manpower into their hemp crop and it’s reached maturity, the harvesting process begins. The cost to harvest one acre of hemp can fall between $300-$600.
Once the hemp is harvested, the plant components (stem, seeds, etc.) need to be separated with a special machine called a decorticator. The decorticator machine alone can cost upwards of $2 million.
The next step is to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other chemical components from the plant through CO2 extraction. A CO2 extraction machine costs between $135,000-$150,000 or higher, and another $20,000-$35,000 for other parts (a rotary evaporator and centrifuge, if you’re wondering).
These machine costs are in addition to the cost of maintaining buildings, infrastructure, skilled labor and more.
Third party testing: Vital, but increases the cost
First, before we talk about testing, I want to make it clear why it’s so important.
Hemp has a unique and amazing ability to absorb toxins from polluted soil. It’s a natural soil remediator, which means it actively pulls toxins, heavy metals and pollutants from the soul it grows in.
The hemp plant is so good at absorbing toxins that after Chernobyl disaster and nuclear meltdown in 1988, hemp was planted in the soil around the contaminated disaster site for just that reason: To help pull the radioactive toxins from the soil.
But this ability to absorb toxins means that oil extracted from hemp plants that were grown near contaminated soil – either from pesticides, industrial waste or other impurities – may contain those same toxins in concentrated amounts. And in the CBD market, as it exists today, manufacturers have no obligation to tell customers where the hemp was grown…or what was in the soil used to grow it. Nor are they obligated to test their product for harmful contaminants.
Countries that are cheapest to buy hemp extract from, like China or Romania, don’t have the same laws about pesticide use or testing, can potentially have those toxins in high amounts.
This is exactly why third-party testing is so, so important for hemp products. Testing to prove product purity, as well as CBC levels, is absolutely necessary when looking to buy these products. But this testing, equipment and quality control add up in cost, which is part of CBD costs remain high.
In some cases, it’s ok to pinch pennies! Batch-testing CBD is not one of them.
In keeping with our commitment to quality and purity, Plant Therapy rigorously tests every batch of our CBD. We enlist reputable third-party laboratories to run High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) tests, measuring the potency and levels of cannabinoids in each batch of CBD, and ensuring that our broad-spectrum CBD is completely THC-free. Gas Chromatography-mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) tests, like those we currently offer for our essential oils, are also run to measure valuable terpene levels.
Additionally, during the post-manufacturing process, our CBD is tested for top 40 pesticides, a microbial test is done to confirm the batch is free of all bacteria, and each batch is tested for heavy metals to ensure all CBD sold by Plant Therapy is free of contaminants. Lot codes on the bottles will link directly to the test data, continuing Plant Therapy’s commitment to transparency with their customers.
But wait, we’re not with finished with costs yet!
Decarboxylation and chromatography
Once all the cannabinoids, terpenes and other chemical components are extracted, the initially extracted cannabis concentrate still contains acids that need to be decarboxylated. The cost for a decarboxylation oven is between $5,000-$7,000.
After decarboxylation, what’s left is a full-spectrum hemp extract (CBD). But if the THC needs removing (like in Plant Therapy’s broad-spectrum CBD), the concentrate needs to go through a chromatography machine, which can cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus skilled labor to run them.
Though the manufacturing side of the process has the largest costs associated with it, we have to also consider the following:
- Product distributors’ operating costs: These can be twice or even three times higher for companies dealing with hemp products.
- Liability business insurance: This can easily cost between $500-$700 per month, as opposed to the same insurance policy for non-hemp businesses, which would run about $700 for the entire year.
- Credit card processing: Because banking options and payment processors are very limited, companies pay for ‘high risk’ credit card processing, which can be hundreds of dollars a month.
- In-house compliance: Plant Therapy employs an in-house regulatory compliance employee who ensures our CBD meets legal requirements. With around a staggering 69% of CBD products being mislabeled, we consider this another layer of safety and transparency in our CBD products.
Like everything we do, Plant Therapy is bringing our company values to our CBD products.
Safety: You can trust that we are transparent about our product and what it does. We don’t make unsubstantiated claims. We do cite our resources and provide GC/MS tests for each oil (including CO2 Hemp Extract). This way you know exactly which chemical constituents go into your CBD.
Quality: High-quality products have always been a priority, but CBD is incredibly important. We sourced the highest-quality product right here in the United States from reputable, ethical growers.
Education: Our team will provide continuing education through content, videos, downloads, and trained staff members.
Pricing: Low, fair, and affordable pricing has always been our first priority.
To learn more, visit our CBD page for more information, or check out these other blog posts:
- What is CBD?
- What is the Endocannabinoid System?
- How to Use CBD
- Will CBD Get Me High?
- Broad-Spectrum vs. Full-Spectrum CBD
The High Cost Of CBD: Why Is CBD Expensive? (2019). Ministry of Hemp. Retrieved from https://www.ministryofhemp.com/blog/cost-cbd-expensive/
Leafly Investigation: Why Are CBD Prices So Confusing? (2017). Leafly. Retrieved from https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/leafly-investigation-cbd-prices-confusing
Why is CBD So Expensive? (2019). CBD Captain. Retrieved from https://hempcaptain.com/why-is-cbd-so-expensive/
Cannabidiol (CBD) Pre-Review Report. (2017). Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/medicines/access/controlled-substances/5.2_CBD.pdf