Health & Wellness

How I Shop for CBD in NYC

By Rebecca Norris
Jason Briscoe/Unsplash

You may have seen a certain three-letter term popping up all over the Internet lately. And no, I’m not talking about THC. While states across the nation are working to legalize the psychoactive, its non-psychoactive cousin, CBD, is making headlines for much different reasons. Where THC (AKA tetrahydrocannabinol) gets users high, CBD (short for cannabidiol) comes with myriad physical and mental health benefits. So it’s no wonder then that, I, like so many others, find myself scouring digital shelves for the best CBD the $22 billion industry has to offer.

But that begs the question, what’s worth actually clicking ‘Add to Cart’? That, my friends, is what we’re going to discuss today. Below, I share how I shop for CBD. Who knows, it might just inspire (and assist) you to do the same.

I Educate Myself

First things first, I take the time to understand the difference between CBD and THC. While both triple letter cannabinoids are derived from cannabis, there’s also hemp-derived CBD. Hemp is oftentimes confused with marijuana, but the difference comes down to the amount of THC in each. Where hemp-derived CBD products have less that 0.3% THC, marijuana-derived CBD products are made with varying amounts of THC, all the way up to 30%. The result? Hemp-derived CBD products offer people the opportunity to experience some of the benefits of cannabis—without the high.

I Make Sure It’s Legal

Along with educating myself on the different types of CBD the market has to offer, I ask myself one very important questions: Is it legal?

Now, given how many retailers—both brick and mortar and online—sell CBD, you might think that it’s all legal. That’s not the case though. While many CBD products are sold across state lines, it’s not as black and white as you might think.

For starters, it’s safe to assume that marijuana-derived CBD is a no-go unless, of course, you live in a legalized state or district (Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington D.C.). As for hemp-derived CBD, you’re still not quite in the clear.

Back in 2017, when the CBD industry really began to boom, the DEA tried to say that all CBD (whether derived from cannabis or hemp) was a Schedule I illegal substance. In 2018, however, President Trump passed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (AKA the 2018 Farm Bill), which ultimately stated that if the hemp-derived CBD contains less the 0.3% THC, adheres to state and federal regulations, and is grown by a properly licensed grower, then it’s legal.

Since that’s A LOT (to say the least), I typically try to stay on the safe side and only suss out products that have 0.3% THC or less. That might seem obvious given my little rant above, but you’d be surprised just how many CBD products have more than that; not to mention how many you don’t realize have more THC than that until you consume them.

I Look to Retailers and Brands I Trust

After re-educating myself on what levels of THC to search for, I click over to my favorite common beauty and wellness retailers, or, in some instances, actually go in person to test the products out before dropping cold hard cash.

While many CBD-aficionado articles will tell you to only shop from dispensaries and strictly CBD sites, I think those sites are a great place to do research, but prefer to peruse the virtual shelves of Sephora, Target, Barney’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, and the like. Given CBDs potential connection to marijuana, you might be surprised to find that you can actually find a great deal of hemp-derived CBD products at these mass retailers, but, at the end of the day, that just goes to show how gigantic this industry has grown—and with no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

On the chance that I get tired of typing into the search bar of my favorite sites in search of CBD magic, I make it easy on myself and head straight to Fleur Marche. The cannabis apothecary only sells CBD-infused products, which makes finding exactly what you’re looking for quick and to the point.

I Determine My Why

A big part of shopping for CBD comes down to why you’re shopping in the first place. For me, it’s all about chronic pain relief, calming skin solutions, and a non-prescription approach to anxiety. My neck and back are riddled with knots that have been in place (and refuse to budge) since 2013, I have sensitive combination skin, and my thoughts have a way of spinning out of control with every ‘What If’ in the book. But, mind you, that’s without CBD. With it, I find that my chronic pain is manageable, my complexion is even, and my mind is calm.

I Consider the Different Forms

To actually experience those benefits, however, I must first find the proper forms of CBD. While we now know that less than 0.3% THC is the sweet spot, there are also a bunch of different ways that CBD can be ingested and applied.

Take vapes for example. I have the W!nk Go Pen Oil Vaporizer which features all natural hemp-derived CBD that can be felt almost immediately upon inhalation. I usually reserve this for moments of extreme stress or right before going to sleep, as it’s incredibly calming. The trick when shopping for CBD vapes is to ensure that the oil isn’t made with propylene glycol, as when it’s heated it can transform into formaldehyde and be incredibly damaging to the health of your lungs.

Then there’s sublinguals. These drops are designed to be taken under the tongue and typically set in within 15 to 20 minutes. I love Mineral Focus, a terpene-centric hemp-derived CBD oil that no joke clears my head and facilitates a clear, central focus. I will say, however, if you take the sublingual route, be prepared to have a minute or so of oral discomfort, as you’re supposed to let the product absorb under your tongue, as opposed to swallowing it, which can feel unnatural. But maybe that’s just me.

If you love the idea of benefitting from CBD edibles without the weird mouth moment, opt for gummies or tinctures. I always have Sunday Scaries Gummies or CBD Tincture on hand for stress-relieving needs. However, for best results, it’s said that you should take the gummies daily, as if they’re a vitamin.

Ingestibles aside, there are topicals that can make a world of difference. While they often take a bit longer to feel the full effects of the CBD, once that relaxing feeling sinks in, you can expect it to last for hours. My favorite ways to experience topical CBD products are both personal and professional.

From a professional standpoint, I’ll take any opportunity I can to head into Paul Labrecque Spa on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for the CBD Ritual Massage; a 90-minute masterpiece that melts tension and aligns chakras with the help of 1,000mg of full-spectrum CBD.

When I don’t have time to head to the spa, I make sure that my vanity is stocked with Seven7h Sense CBD Soothing Muscle Balm or Leef Organics Recover CBD Sport. Both of these products have an effect similar to Bengay or Max-Freeze, only with the added relief of CBD.

Lastly, when it comes to calming my complexion, I rely on CBD-infused serums and oils, including Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum, Lord Jones Royal Oil, and Herbivore Botanicals Emerald CBD + Adaptogens Deep Moisture Glow Oil.

I Enjoy the Effects

Once I’ve chosen the CBD form of my choice, I pop it, drop it, or apply it for what I’m confident will always be a pleasant moment of self-care.

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