My hunt for the best CBD cigarettes for 2022 turned out to be a much longer process than I’d originally planned, as I started receiving the “contenders” back in early December (finally ready to publish mid February 2022).
I only mention this so that you know that a lot of thought and consideration went into the judging process in order for it to be as reasonable, fair, and honest as possible.
In this article, I’ll tell you a bit more about the testing process so that you understand my priorities in picking the winners a little better.
The selection process
The 12 cigarette brands I ended up testing are a random selection of brands that were willing to take part in the feature. I spent a number of hours getting in touch with every single CBD cigarette brand I could find and asked them if they would be interested in taking part.
The 12 brands that are featured are the ones that responded and sent samples. Simple.
NB. I realize I could have gone out and bought the other brands, but I also had budgetary constraints to think of and would never have been able to afford to independently lab test all of them!
The research stage
My first port of call, for each brand I was testing, was to do a little background research on them, checking out their lab reports, price, and availability.
A note on lab reports
For those that don’t know, a company can choose to have third party lab testing done on their hemp flower products for its cannabinoid profile (potency), terpene profile, and then there are a number of tests that can verify its purity or safety (relatively speaking), by showing that it’s free from contamination by pesticides, heavy metals, microbials, and mycotoxins.
NB. Processed products, like oils and gummies, should also be tested for residual solvents.
When a product is tested for all of the above, it’s often called “full panel” testing, although there are no industry standards when it comes to how comprehensive each test is, I’d still rather consume a product that has this testing in place.
It costs around $350 compared to $75 (for a potency test alone), which isn’t expensive, especially when you spread that cost out over a whole batch of thousands of cigarettes. But you’d be surprised at just how many brands choose to test their products for potency only (or potency and terpenes).
Many small brands manage to afford this “extra” expenditure and are still able to provide CBD cigarettes at the same low prices, so why doesn’t everyone?
It makes me wonder (worry) that they’re afraid their products won’t pass these tests, which means we definitely shouldn’t be smoking them.
However, I also smoked tobacco cigarettes for over 20 years and never asked to see a lab report once. I do believe that everyone has the right to choose their own poisons (and let’s face it, smoking anything at all is pretty bad for you, whichever way you look at it), so while I did give this lab reporting issue some weight while picking winners, I didn’t let it take over completely. Soooo, you can find my favorite potency-only-testers in third place.
The testing stage
Each brand of cigarettes was then put through a thorough three-stage testing process. Here are some of the things I considered when rating these cigarettes and choosing category winners:
1. First impressions
First impressions is pretty self-explanatory. I rated the packaging for each brand, noting how user friendly and sturdy it is. I also checked out the cigarettes themselves, how well made they are and what they smelled like.
This stage took the most time to complete as I wanted to smoke multiple cigarettes from each brand in different circumstances. I didn’t want to judge a brand on a one cigarette only experience as I was worried that my circumstances or mood might affect my judgement.
I also didn’t want to increase my cigarette consumption much above what it would usually be. Waiting for a natural desire to smoke to arise before smoking every single cigarette also meant that I wanted and appreciated each one just as much as the last.
I kept them all in a big Ziploc bag to keep them as fresh as possible and smoked them in random order, taking notes so that (hopefully) I would see a pattern arise in my enjoyment of the draw, taste, and effects.
3. What’s really inside?
In this final stage, I ran two “experiments” to find out what was really inside the cigarettes I was smoking. I felt (for one or two minutes at least), like a real investigative journalist.
The dissection experiment
In this experiment, I sliced open a cigarette from each pack and looked at what I was actually smoking. I
stole borrowed this idea from someone I saw on Reddit (thanking you kindly Mr aussieman1580).
Three of the brands immediately stood out from all of the others as you could clearly see that they were actually made from high quality hemp flower.
There was a stark difference in color (much brighter green) and they also had more of a fluffy feel to them, the way you expect ground up buds to feel.
Following the top three, this task got infinitely harder. I identified another three pretty quickly that seemed to be of higher quality than the others and then when it came to the final six, I found it easier to work from the bottom up, placing the browner, dustier samples at the bottom.
I took some pictures, solo and together, so that you can see the color differences from first place to last. You can check them out in “What’s Really Inside Your CBD Cigarettes?” and they’re also included in each full review (links below)
The “fourth-party has third-party lab testing done” experiment
I also thought, how do we know that the lab results we are presented with online, really represent what’s in the actual pack of cigarettes we’re smoking today? The only way to find out was to test them for myself, so I arranged for all 12 brands to be independently tested for potency to see if we’re really getting what we’re paying for.
**I also sent off some D8 cigarettes for testing, but haven’t had time to fully test and write that one up yet, so please consider joining the newsletter for updates**
The lab reports revealed some pretty interesting results with regards to potency, but also potentially to the age or nature of the products as some, rather strangely, had way more CBD in them than CBDA.
Reasons this might be (that I could think of) include:
- The product is very old (age = decarboxylation)
- The product accidentally got exposed to heat at some point (heat = decarboxylation)
- The biomass was exposed to too much light (light = decarboxylation)
- The hemp was poor quality and was sprayed with CBD, in order to boost content and effects
Either way, it was very unexpected and there does seem to be a correlation between this CBD-over-CBDA content and less or lack of effects, which makes me question whether CBD (not CBDA) can cope with the heat of smoking.
I’ve actually researched this topic before, in the context of edibles, but it’s not one I’ve found a solid scientific answer for yet, just anecdotal evidence to suggest that CBD (like THC) degrades quickly with heat.
Picking the winner
Ultimately, the brands I picked as the winners are the ones that I would (and very probably will) buy for myself in the future.
As an ex-tobacco smoker, the enjoyment and ease of smoking was probably given more weight than any other factor, but some of the brands I tried were fairly similar to each other, which is where I found other considerations to be especially helpful in choosing one over another.
I invite you to take a look at the full reviews of each brand (links below) and welcome any questions or comments you have regarding the testing process, winners, or anything else. Use the comments box below or write to me at [email protected]. I’d love to hear from you.