Here’s Why CBD Potency Matters

Posted 3 years ago by Ian Shutts

With increasing evidence in scientific literature around the therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD), more and more new consumers are looking into using the cannabis compound, either as a form of self-medication or as a health supplement. While a resurgence of natural medicine amidst the ongoing opioid crisis is certainly a good thing, cannabis greenhorns would do well to understand CBD potency, as well as how it can help determine what type of product is best for their individual needs.  


Potency expectations by product type

The first and most important consideration when looking into CBD potency is product typing. Not all CBD oils are created equal, but they can be divided into three categories: isolates, distillates and full-spectrum products. 


As implied by the name, isolates are the purest form of CBD available, with the highest possible single-cannabinoid concentrations on the market; distillates are roughly 75% CBD with trace amounts of secondary cannabinoids like cannabigerol (CBG) and cannabicyclol (CBC), while full-spectrum CBD contains various other cannabinoids and terpenes with the lowest potential for potency of the three. Before vetting products for potency, be sure you’re browsing the right CBD product type for your desired use case. 

So what makes CBD potency so important? In this post, we go over how potency is measured within the industry as well as how it affects product efficacy, cost and dosage ranges — all important considerations for prospective new consumers and individuals looking to use CBD as a therapeutic supplement. 


How is CBD Potency Measured?

As with other plant-extracted compounds, the potency of cannabinoid products is measured in milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL). This means the amount of CBD you’re getting per purchase is not so much decided by the size of the bottle but by the potency of the product, which ultimately determines how much of it is consumed at a time.

At the low end, CBD potency typically starts at around 16mg/mL. High-strength products such as those sold on can get up to potencies of 300mg/mL.


How Potency Influences Dosage

The ideal CBD dosage varies from person to person, largely to be determined by individual body weight. As of this writing, the current recommended dosages by body weight are as follows:

  • 11mg or less for mild effects, 12mg or more for a large dose in adults 130lbs and under 
  • 18mg or less for mild effects, 19mg or more for a large dose in adults from 131lbs to 230lbs 
  • 23mg or less for mild effects, 24mg or more for a large dose in adults from over 230lbs

Whether a moderate or large dose is right for you depends on your particular use case; a good rule of thumb is that large doses are best reserved for serious conditions such as debilitating pain, mood or inflammatory disorders.


How Potency Justifies Product Pricing

Industry extraction processes are expensive, with top-of-the-line manufacturers using complex machine processes such as supercritical CO2 extraction to produce quality CBD isolates with stellar potency and impressive purity. On the other hand, solvent extraction processes — such as with hexane, butane or ethanol — create lower potency products with trace amounts of solvent residue that can be harmful in some methods of consumption like vaping. 


When browsing the shelf, be sure to note product potency, sourcing and extraction process printed on the package before making a purchase. It’s also worth noting whether or not the claims on said packaging are certified by third-party testing. As in any industry, consumers get what they pay for — and are free to choose between quality and quantity based on their personal budgets.