Why Can’t You Buy Good CBD on Amazon?

You can buy almost anything on Amazon, but can you buy quality CBD? The truth is that you’re more likely to find sketchy, mislabeled “hemp-seed oil” on this online megastore than well-labeled, traceable high-quality products such as our flavored CBD oil or CBD gummy candies.

CBD is experiencing a popularity boom thanks to cannabis decriminalization. More and more studies and huge amounts of anecdotal evidence suggest that CBD is connected to a host of wellness benefits, further driving the market’s explosive growth.  

So it may seem odd that quality CBD is hard to come by on one of the world’s most popular retailers. But there are actually very good reasons you shouldn’t try to buy CBD on Amazon. Let’s take a closer look. 

CBD and Amazon: A Quality-Control Disaster?

It’s hard to buy CBD on Amazon in part because Amazon made it that way: Their terms of use explicitly prohibit listing any products containing cannabidiol. In a world where CBD is popping up everywhere from bakeries to beauty salons, why is Amazon explicitly banning this huge market? 

A lot of it has to do with Amazon’s sheer size. With CBD manufacturing largely unregulated, shoppers may expect Amazon itself to control the quality of the products available on their site.  

However, Amazon isn’t just a single retailer. Its seller marketplace currently hosts about 2.5 million active accounts. And Amazon’s track record when it comes to enforcing meaningful quality control among those 2.5 million merchants isn’t great. 

In 2019, Amazon had to warn many shoppers that the Align Probiotic supplements they purchased on the site were likely counterfeit, while in 2017 many sellers were caught removing best-by dates from expired over-the-counter medicines. 

Quality control in the world of CBD is especially important because mislabeled ingredients can change a product’s efficacy, its immediate and long-term effects, its legal status and its safety for consumers. Poorly manufactured CBD products can contain contaminants such as lead and pesticides.

A 2017 study of 84 CBD products found that a significant portion contained more CBD or less CBD than advertised, and even undisclosed and intoxicating levels of THC. CBD products that contain more than the 0.3% THC content allowed by the 2018 Farm Bill are considered controlled substances, and their manufacturers and distributors risk law-enforcement consequences.  

Mislabeled products and unproven health claims have gotten CBD manufacturers embroiled in class-action lawsuits, FDA warning letters and even government raids. 

CBD manufacturing is a diverse and largely unregulated field, which means quality can vary enormously among the hundreds of small companies jockeying for sales dollars. Counterfeit products on third-party marketplaces outside of Amazon have already caused headaches for companies like Lazarus Naturals, who advise their customers to avoid fake Lazarus products on Groupon.

With over $10 billion in annual net income from their existing operations, Amazon may have decided that entering this legally and medically complicated industry is simply more trouble than it’s worth.

Amazon has banned products containing CBD -- but that doesn’t mean you can’t obtain them shopping there. A Washington Post investigation found that 11 out of 13 products bought on the site contained CBD. Some of those products came from CBD manufacturers that simply redesigned their Amazon-focused packaging to heavily imply, rather than flatly state, that CBD was in the product.

It’s technically a loophole, but it’s one that creates an even bigger regulation vacuum than simply allowing CBD sales, leaving Amazon shoppers vulnerable to counterfeiters, unclear dosages, mislabeled products and other quality and safety issues. 

“Hemp-Seed Oil” and CBD Are Related, but They’re Not the Same 

CBD is formally banned from Amazon, but a search for “CBD” on the site still returns pages and pages of products. Many aspects of those listings may remind you of CBD available from other retailers, from repeated references to cannabis and hemp to familiar dosage methods such as gummies and dropper bottles.  

Some of these sellers may be offering CBD products without saying it explicitly. But many are just offering the “hemp oil” or “hemp-seed oil” described in their listing, and some of those sellers may even be intentionally exploiting widespread confusion about terms for cannabis-derived products.

Cannabis is a genus of plants containing different strains with both male and female specimens. THC, CBD and other cannabinoids are only present in significant quantities in the buds of female and hermaphrodite plants.  

Humans treasure female buds for their cannabinoids, but they’ve found uses for the rest of the cannabis plant for millennia, from making durable hemp fiber to pressing oil out of the seeds. While hemp-seed oil has many genuine uses and benefits to offer, it’s derived from cannabinoid-scarce components of the cannabis plant. If you’re using hemp-seed oil, you’re not experiencing CBD. 

Alternatives to Amazon 

Amazon makes billions of dollars per year in profit for a reason -- they’ve become a one-stop online shopping destination for everything from groceries to clothes to movies. As CBD is going mainstream, many people are looking to their favorite online marketplace, only to find that getting accurately labeled, trustworthy CBD products there is essentially impossible. Where can a CBD shopper look other than Amazon’s online mega-bazaar?

Buying directly from a manufacturer (such as Penguin CBD) can offer shoppers real quality and security. Like other responsible CBD manufacturers, Penguin offers third-party lab results to verify that our products contain exactly the CBD we advertise, with no undisclosed THC or contaminants.

Because we’re not trying to get around a CBD ban, each product page on our website contains the CBD dosing information customers need to get the right experience for them. Whether you’re buying discrete and easy CBD capsules or a flavored tincture to absorb sublingually, we provide the information you need directly rather than hinting at it. 

Buying directly from Penguin not only protects shoppers from counterfeit products; it also helps us spend our resources on formulating great products and offering them at fair prices rather than paying marketplace fees to Amazon.

Our products use a broad-spectrum CBD that incorporates beneficial terpenes and other components of the cannabis plant without including intoxicating THC.  

We take care to create a pleasant and effective CBD experience for our customers, whether that means using an effective MCT carrier oil to maximize our tinctures’ bioavailability or formulating our skin-care balm with other beneficial ingredients such as shea butter and aloe. 

You can’t buy quality CBD on Amazon. But the alternative -- buying CBD directly from reputable manufacturers -- offers so many advantages that you likely wouldn’t want to go through Amazon even if you could. Log off of Amazon and check out some of Penguin’s great CBD products.