CBD Pricing: Why did prices drop in 2020? Does price equate to quality? Who are the most and least expensive within each category?

Our in-house statisticians took a comprehensive look at the major CBD brands on the market, the discrepancies in their prices as compared to last year, and what these discrepancies say about how CBD prices, quality, and trends in the industry overall.
Alexa Peters
Written by Alexa Peters, Cannabis Writer
Last Updated
Price Report

If you’ve ever bought CBD—a main, yet non-psychoactive ingredient, in cannabis that may be helpful for issues like anxiety, pain, insomnia, and more—you’ve probably balked at the radical differences in price for what appears to be the same product. To make matters worse, the CBD industry is still largely unregulated by the FDA, meaning that overpaying for a subpar CBD product is a real risk for consumers. In response, Leafreport decided to publish an Independent CBD price report similar to the one we did last year.

Summary of Key Findings

Of a variety of findings in Leaf Report’s Independent Study of CBD Products, perhaps the most startling discovery is that 70% of brands lowered their prices in 2020 to some degree. This confirms that there is plenty of supply on the market, creating fierce price competition among brands.

As well, this year’s price comparison report found that:

  • CBD prices decreased by 17% compared to last year.
  • Pet edibles are the exception, with a 44% increase in prices.
  • The cheapest product family is isolates, which differs from the most expensive product family (pet edibles) by 87.5%.
  • Lazarus Naturals ranked as the cheapest brand for 3 different product families.
  • Provocan and American Shaman star ranked as the most expensive brands in many categories.
  • The difference between the cheapest and most expensive brands can get to as high as 5222% , while the largest differences are actually found on topicals.

 

How CBD Is Priced

To understand why prices overall have dropped, let’s talk about how CBD is priced—which isn’t straightforward.

Firstly, the supply of hemp on the market is hugely impactful to the final price of any isolate, broad spectrum, or full spectrum product. For instance, Angela Arena, owner of CBD company Kind Lab, says that one of the most significant reasons for CBD’s steady price decline in 2020 is that more hemp suppliers have entered the market since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp cultivation.

With the increased access to hemp, more and more CBD brands are able to enter the market.

“Prices were so high because the supply was so low, [but] we’re starting to see that drop, especially as people get creative and find ways to produce lower cost products and introduce those into the market, it’s going to become a lot more price competitive,” said Arena.

While in many ways this market saturation of brands can be a good thing for consumers because it creates the competition that drives prices down, it also can ensnare the uneducated.

For instance, there are 3 types of CBD concentrates in any given CBD product—isolates, broad spectrums and full spectrums. Without THC, isolate is by far the cheapest to manufacture to scale, while broad and full spectrum are more THC-rich and more costly to manufacture. Certain types of products, like gummies, can be more expensive to manufacture, too.

“People will come out and say ‘this price is lower than yours’ but that’s an isolate that they use. We have broad spectrum, go to full spectrum, then remove the THC and do it all through CO2—that’s [just] more expensive,” said Chase Terwilliger, CEO of CBDistillery.

Additional factors that influence the final price of a CBD product are the underlying costs associated with certain certifications, quality testing with third-party labs and scientists, as well as any merchant fees that factor into the selling of the product at dispensaries and online.

CBD Price in Relationship to Quality

More expensive CBD isn’t automatically better quality. Again, because the market is the unregulated wild west, a company that doesn’t quality test for purity, or that uses isolates and mislabels it as full-spectrum, can charge just as much as a brand offering CBD that’s better quality.

Hence, a good way to make sure a CBD product is worth the money is to check how it is advertised. It’s always worth checking if the label says USDA Organic certified and if the brand publishes their certificates of third-party analysis (COAs) on their website. Also, as Terwilliger notes, look for a little orange stamp that says U.S. Hemp Authority Certified. This third-party organization evaluates the transparency of a brand’s testing protocol, quality manual, marketing, and more.

“It would be surprising if there’s a company out there that could pass those tests but didn’t have the Hemp Authority Certified [sticker]— so you can kind of identify the problem company there because they’re not doing it what we call ‘the right way,’” said Terwilliger.

As Terwilliger says, doing it “the right way” plays into the quality of a CBD product, so Leaf Report’s included our brand rating in this price study, too. We grade brands from 1-100 based on certain criteria like the diversity of products available, quality, transparency and more. This number should be taken into consideration along with the price of a specific CBD brand’s product to get a full 360-degree view of a product’s value.

How We are Trying to Help

Overall the product family prices per mg of CBD vary enormously from $0.032 to $1.69, a dramatic 5222% gap, as we found on CBD topicals. Another dramatic 1400% gap was found on pet edibles.

We here at Leafreport are seeing what you are seeing and our purpose is to help you figure out what your best choices are, and help you compare and contrast different products that can help you achieve your goals.

We wanted to create a consumer guideline, a series of benchmarks that could be used to compare quantity, potency and prices of various CBD products.

We looked at the total avg price of each brand (in US dollars per mg of CBD) and created a 3-category price index (A, B & C) so we could more easily compare brands:

  • A – “Bargain grade”– prices in this category range from $0.01-$0.079/mg CBD
  • B – “Market grade” – prices in the market grade category range from $0.08-$0.149/mg CBD
  • C- “Pricy grade” – prices were those above $0.15/mg CBD

 

Findings For Each Product Family

CBD Tinctures

Tinctures are CBD formulations meant to be taken orally. Tinctures usually include CBD, in full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate oil forms, as well as sort of carrier oil like MCT oil that helps deliver the cannabinoid and optimize its absorption.

Tinctures may be best for whole body issues like anxiety or chronic pain, by nature of the way its metabolized by the liver and sent into the bloodstream. According to Arena from Kind Lab, they have started selling many more tinctures during the pandemic due increased mental health issues.

“My ingestibles all exceed my topicals now. I think people are coming in less for issues of the body, like physical, and more of, like mental health and stress specifically. And you really, the best way to approach that is to ingest something,” she said.

Full and Broad Spectrum Tinctures

Average price per mg: $0.09 per milligram of CBD.

Least Expensive Brand: Lazarus Naturals have the least expensive full/broad spectrum CBD tincture at $0.03 per mg. As compared to last year in this category, their prices have decreased by about $0.016. They are not USDA organic or Hemp Authority certified but they do third-party test their products to ensure legal, quality and safety standards are met, and they publish these certificates of analysis clearly on their website.

Lazarus Naturals’ Leafreport brand score: 88.

Most Expensive Brand: CBD American Shaman came in as the most expensive tincture in this category at $0.20 per milligram, which is about on-par with their prices last year. The brand tests for CBD and THC content, which they publish clearly on their website. They are not USDA certified, but they are Hemp Authority Certified.

CBD American Shaman’s Leafreport brand score: 71

Discrepancies from 2019 study: Plain Jane was the cheapest tincture in this category last year at $0.03 per milligram. As well, Diamond CBD was the most expensive in 2019 at $0.32 per mg. Generally, in 2019, the average price per milligram of CBD for full and broad spectrum tinctures was $0.12, so prices for this category have fallen by an average of 25% in 2020.

 

Isolate Tinctures

Average price per mg: $0.08 per milligram.

Least Expensive Brand: Lazarus Naturals comes in again as the lowest-priced option for isolate tinctures at $0.02 per mg, which is down two cents from their price per mg in this category in 2019. Lazarus Naturals uses an ethanol-based process to rend all their isolates in-house, and they third-party test for quality.

Lazarus Naturals’ Leafreport brand score: 88

Most Expensive Brand: At 0.18 per mg, we found Blue Moon Hemp’s isolate-based tincture is the most expensive in this category in our independent study. The brand publishes their third-party testing certificates of analysis clearly on their website, and claims to extract their CBD using a proprietary process. They are not Hemp Authority Certified.

Blue Moon Hemp’s Leaf Report brand score: 79

Comparison with 2019 study: in 2019, the average price per milligram of CBD for isolate tinctures was $0.13, so prices for this category have fallen by an average of 38% in 2020.

 

CBD Gummies

CBD-rich candies make delicious treats, but also one of the most labor-intensive to manufacture. For that reason, CBDistillery’s Terwilliger says they are the most expensive CBD product category.

“They’re really hard to manufacture and they’re hard to get the right consistency throughout, and they’re somewhat problematic in the summer,” said Terwilliger. “You got to get the right gummy because it’ll melt if you’re shipping it in the summer.”

Here’s what our report found for 2020 CBD Gummy prices, so you can be informed going in.

Average price per mg: $0.11 per mg of CBD.

Least Expensive Brand: Half Day CBD came in with the cheapest CBD gummy option, at $0.043 per milligram. They make their gummies in an in-house FDA-approved facility, and promise that the CBD is infused in, not sprayed onto the final candy. They also third-party test and publish COAs for each gummy flavor on their website. They are not Hemp Authority Certified.

Half Day CBD’s Leafreport Brand Score: 67

Most Expensive Brand: Veritas Farms had the most expensive gummy in our study, coming it at $0.21 per milligram of CBD. Veritas Farms using locally-sourced full-spectrum CBD in their gummies, cultivated and harvested with sustainable farming methods, and extracted with ethanol. Every product is tested and they publish certificates of analysis on their website.

Veritas Farm’s Leafreport Brand Score: 85

Comparison with 2019 study: Last year, the average price of CBD gummies was about $0.14 per mg of CBD. The brand with the least expensive CBD gummy was CBDistillery with an average cost of $0.07 per mg. The most expensive—at $0.28 per mg CBD—was LordJones. That means, overall, the cost of CBD gummies has fallen by an average of 3 cents in 2020.

 

CBD Capsules & Soft Gels

CBD capsules contain CBD that you swallow orally, like a supplement. Although this appears to be one of the most convenient and discreet methods for dosing CBD, studies have shown it’s not the most efficient for absorbing high levels of CBD into the body. Still, for those with mild issues and a concern about using anything related to cannabis, it may be the preferred product.

Average price per mg: $0.08 per mg of CBD.

Least Expensive brand: At $0.044 per mg CBD on average, Avid Hemp comes in as the cheapest option for CBD capsules, which they offer at several potencies and make with distillate and isolate. They are not USDA certified, but they do testing in-house for quality and safety, and they publish the results on their website. They are not Hemp Authority Certified.

Avid Hemp’s Leafreport Brand Score: 70

Most Expensive brand: Medical Mary offers CBD capsules for $0.14 per mg CBD, the highest price per mg in our study. At their FDA-approved facility, Medical Mary uses CO2 extraction and before mixed into a product, the CBD is third-party tested. They publish lab results on their website and have a Good Manufacturing Practice sticker, but are not USDA organic or Hemp Authority Certified.

Medical Mary’s Leafreport Brand Score: 61

Price comparison with 2019 study: The average price of CBD capsules last year was $0.12 per mg CBD, with the cheapest brand being Lazarus Naturals at $0.05 per mg, and the most expensive being Mary’s Nutritionals at $0.43 per mg CBD. Hence, the cheapest CBD capsules are quite a bit cheaper this year, bringing the average price down by 33% to $0.08 per mg CBD.

 

CBD Topicals

When it comes to localized pain, CBD topicals—like a lotion—are a popular remedy. With topicals, a patient can rub the product right into the painful area—and data shows that this transdermal application may be very effective.

Average price per mg: $0.24 per MG CBD

Least Expensive brand: Naternal comes in with the lowest price per mg in the topicals category, at $0.032.

Naternal Leafreport Brand Score: 71

Most Expensive brand: Kushly comes with the most expensive product in this category—$1.69 per mg CBD.

CBD American Shaman’s Leaf Report Brand Score: 69

Price comparison with 2019 study: The cost of CBD topicals has fallen by 4% in 2020.

 

CBD Vapes & E-liquids

CBD oil can be put into a cartridge, vaporized, and inhaled, too. This smokeless option can be a convenient and precise way to dose CBD. What’s more, inhalation of CBD is the most efficient way to absorb the cannabinoid, so the effects of vaping CBD may be more fast-acting than with other products.

Vapes should always be extensively researched, as poor quality and after-market vapes have been linked to lung damage.

Average price per mg: $0.12 per mg CBD

Least Expensive brand: Phenopen came in with the cheapest CBD vapes, offered at $0.021 per mg CBD. They publish their COAs on their website and claim to have 100% pure hemp extract in their vapes. They are not USDA Organic or Hemp Authority certified.

Phenopen’s Leafreport Brand Score: 70

Most Expensive brand: Provocan offered the most expensive CBD vape at $0.21 per mg CBD. In order to follow EU & UK safety standards, this UK-based brand offers their third-party test results on their website. They use full-spectrum CO2 extract in their CBD and olive oil as their carrier oil. They claim to use organic products but are not USDA organic or U.S. Hemp Authority Certified.

Provocan’s Leafreport Brand Score: 69

Price comparison with 2019 study: The cost of CBD vapes has fallen by 14% in 2020.

 

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate—which appears like crystals or powder— is another way some people dose with CBD. Isolate can be taken either by putting the powder under the tongue or swallowing it with a glass of water.

While isolate is a highly concentrated form of CBD, studies show CBD isolate is not as effective as products utilizing broad and full-spectrum CBD. But, because isolate contains no THC, it is a popular product for those consumers who need to avoid THC altogether—plus, it’s the cheapest form of CBD.

Average price per mg: $0.02/mg CBD

Least Expensive brand: At a rate of $0.01 per mg CBD, Bluebird Botanicals offers the least expensive CBD isolate in our study. Every product from Bluebird Botanicals is third-party tested, and they recently because the first hemp company to have its products certified Glyphosate Residue Free. They also have been certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority.

Bluebird Botanicals’ Leafreport Brand Score: 76

Most Expensive brand: CBD Living comes in with the most expensive isolate—$0.08 per mg CBD. They do not use certified organic hemp and third-party tested, although those COAs are not easily located on their website. CBD Living is not Hemp Authority Certified.

CBD Living’s Leafreport Brand Score: 78

Price comparison with 2019 study: The cost of CBD isolate has fallen by 33% in 2020.

 

CBD for Pets

Since the Farm Bill passed in 2018, CBD has become a more mainstream option for calming an anxious pet or treating serious animal conditions like osteoarthritis—leading to an outrageous hike in pet CBD edibles prices, which are up by 44% overall in 2020 as compared to last year.

“The popularity of, and interest in, CBD for pets has grown exponentially,” said JoAnna Pendergrass, Guest DVM (Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) at the pet CBD brand, Honest Paws. “Although the veterinary research on CBD for pets is still in its nascence, CBD has shown to be safe and effective in certain conditions, like canine osteoarthritis. I am looking forward to seeing more veterinary research on CBD and learning more about how CBD can be used to manage various health conditions in pets.”

Here are our findings on pet CBD tincture and edible prices, so you can consider what may be the best brand for your pet and pocketbook.

Pet CBD Tinctures:

Average price per mg: $0.13 per mg CBD

Least Expensive brand: Naternal came in as the brands with the least expensive pet CBD tincture in our study, at $0.042 per mg CBD. Naternal’s full-spectrum hemp extract is third-party tested, and the COAs are published clearly on the website. While they claim to be “all-natural,” there isn’t a clear USDA organic certification and they are not Hemp Authority Certified.

Naternal’s Leafreport Brand Score: 71

Most Expensive brand: At $0.64 per mg CBD, Elixinol has the most expensive pet CBD option. That said, they are Hemp Authority Certified, use USDA certified organic CBD oils in their pet tinctures, and they offer their Certificates of Analysis readily on their website.

Elixinol’s Leaf Report Brand Score: 89

 

Pet CBD Edibles:

Average price per mg: $0.23/mg CBD

Least Expensive brand: Made By Hemp had the cheapest pet CBD edibles, at $0.08 per mg CBD. The brand is farm bill compliant and tested for purity and quality, that said their Certificates of Analysis are not easily found on their website and they are not Hemp Authority Certified.

Made By Hemp’s Leafreport Brand Score: 76

Most Expensive brand: Purekana had the most expensive pet CBD edibles, priced at $0.95 per mg CBD—and they have one of the highest brand scores of any of the brands we looked at. They extract their CBD using the solvent-free CO2 process, offer third-party testing results on each product page, and their hemp is grown and harvested organically. They are not Hemp Authority Certified.

Purekana’s Leafreport Brand Score: 90

Price comparison with 2019 study: This year, we’ve divided our study of CBD pet products into two categories—tinctures and edibles. Last year, when the category was combined, the average price was $0.19 per mg CBD. Interestingly, the most inexpensive brand last year was Elixinol with $0.03/mg CBD and the most expensive was Sabaidee at $0.47 per mg CBD.

The cost of pet CBD tinctures has fallen by 28% in 2020.

The cost of pet CBD edibles has risen by 44% in 2020.

 

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Alexa Peters
Alexa Peters
Cannabis Writer
Alexa Peters is a Seattle-based freelance writer and editor with a specialty in arts & culture, wellness, and lifestyle journalism, as well as content writing. My cannabis and CBD-focused work has appeared in Leafly, CannabisMD, Healthline, Green Valley Nation, and many other publications.

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