CBD has everyone talking these days.

No matter where you are, you will see CBD (an abbreviation of cannabidiol) products advertised, ready for your purchase and consumption. CBD products can be found in stores, pharmacies, massage/beauty parlors, restaurants—and, of course, dispensaries.

But not all CBDs are alike. How do you know you’re getting a quality product? How do you know what sets one product apart from another? The answers come from understanding where CBDs come from and how they are processed.

Isolate CBD is 100 percent pure; however, when the CBD is isolated, the symbiotic qualities of the other parts of the plant are eliminated. In other words, you get CBD, but you lose other critical properties that can have important health benefits.

Full-spectrum CBD contains a wider range of other naturally occurring compounds; whole-plant CBD does as well, but is made from various parts of the plant.

Why are these distinctions important? Studies show that if you isolate pure CBD, it does not always have the same effect on everyone. In other words, bodies react better and more consistently when all the symbiotic elements of the plant are present. It’s really a shot in the dark whether isolated CBD will work, and determining what dosage will work for each person.

Another term you may see is “distillate,” or distilled CBD, which is often made using carbon dioxide, with the CBD passed through a machine three or more times to remove plant matter—which also removes the plant’s synergistic qualities. If heat is used during this process, the pressure can change the molecular structure of the CBD molecule, making it less bioavailable and effective. In other words: When the plant is stripped, the resulting product may be cleaner, but has been rendered less effective.

To sum this all up, the most-effective CBD products use whole plant technology.

“Do your research, and find organically grown plants, organic extraction and organic processes. All of those should be certified,” said Eric Crowe, CEO of Mystic Valley CBD. (Full disclosure: I am also a part of the Mystic Valley team.)

What can a consumer expect from a CBD product purchased at a dispensary? The answer is that a true 100 percent bioavailable CBD is unlikely to be found at a dispensary, because their CBDs are made from cannabis plants with a THC-dominant cultivar—and that means it needs to be processed to get much of that THC removed.

“When they remove the THC, most likely through heat or a chemical process, it inevitably changes the molecular structure of the CBD molecule,” Crowe said.

True pharmaceutical/supplemental CBDs come from the hemp plant, which is not a financially attractive plant to dispensaries. Quality certified organic hemp is grown outdoors, not indoors. Further, the best CBDs come from the female hemp plant.

“Certain female hemp plants produce up to 20 to 21 percent CBD, while males produce an average of 1 to 2 percent CBD, which is much like the THC cultivar,” Crowe said. “This is why you will see dispensaries selling (products with) … even amounts of CBD to THC. A quality hemp CBD is 20 percent CBD to less than 1 percent THC, which is essentially nothing … with no traceable THC.” This is an excellent option for consumers who want the medical benefits of CBD without the intoxicating effects of THC.

So where do you find a quality hemp-based CBD? Through a reputable distributor. Crowe recommends looking for companies that can display their organic certifications and give information on pesticides, chemicals and ground contamination. Any reputable CBD company can and will supply this information.

The lesson here: Not all CBDs are alike. Read the labels, and make sure organic means organic. Your body will know the difference once you experience a quality CBD.

Robin Goins is a business consultant for DR.G Consulting and works extensively in the cannabis industry in the Coachella Valley. For more information, visit www.drrobingoins.com.