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If you feel like cannabidiol (CBD)-infused products are everywhere you look these days, you’re probably right. As a federally legal compound that doesn’t cause the “high” that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) does, it’s become extremely popular.

While research suggests that CBD may have promising therapeutic benefits, that doesn’t necessarily mean that every CBD product you come across is good for you. With many retailers capitalizing on the current CBD craze — making everything from toothpicks to hand sanitizer — it’s more important than ever to evaluate CBD brands and products carefully.

Papa & Barkley is a California-based company that was founded by Adam Grossman in 2014. The idea for the company grew out of a homemade balm Grossman created to help his dad cope with back pain. The second half of the company name refers to Grossman’s pitbull, Barkley.

Read on for an unbiased review of Papa & Barkley’s reputation and products.

CBD glossary

CBD comes with some confusing lingo. Here’s what a few common terms mean:

  • Cannabinoids are compounds that are found naturally in cannabis plants. THC and CBD are just two out of hundreds of cannabinoids.
  • Full-spectrum products contain all the cannabinoids found in the plant, including CBD and a very small amount of THC (less than 0.3 percent to be federally legal in the United States).
  • Broad-spectrum products contain all the cannabinoids found in the plant, except THC.
  • Isolate products only contain extracted CBD.
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Papa & Barkley has a solid overall reputation. A medium-sized company with several hundred employees, they’re well established compared with some smaller CBD brands. The fact that the company was founded in 2014 makes it a veteran in a relatively young retail market.

When considering reputation, it’s important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate CBD products the same way they regulate medications. They don’t test CBD products to find out what’s in them, and they don’t make any guarantees that all CBD products are safe.

However, they do keep tabs on the market and can penalize companies that make false claims. They do this by sending them a warning letter. Unlike some other CBD brands, Papa & Barkley hasn’t received any warning letters to date.

Papa & Barkley is transparent about how they make their products. Their hemp comes from farms in California, Oregon, and Vermont. They provide a detailed, step-by-step description of their process on their website.

One thing that sets them apart from other brands is the way they infuse and extract their CBD. Some of their products are made by infusing hemp directly into MCT oil sourced from coconut oil. Other products are made from a rosin they produce by pressing cannabis between two metal plates.

Neither method leaves any potentially harmful chemicals behind — as can happen when using a solvent-based extraction method like carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction.

GMP certification

All CBD companies are required to comply with the FDA’s current good manufacturing practices (CGMPs), which are safety standards for manufacturing, processing, and packing. Some companies go an extra step and get a third party to certify that they’re indeed following all CGMPs. That can give consumers a little extra confidence.

Currently, it doesn’t look like Papa & Barkley is CGMP certified.

Third-party testing

It’s really easy to access testing information for all Papa & Barkley products. Each product page features a link to an up-to-date certificate of analysis (COA) outlining tests conducted by CannaSafe, an ISO 17025-certified, third-party laboratory.

Their products are tested for:

  • cannabinoids, including the presence of CBD and THC
  • pesticides
  • residual solvents
  • heavy metals
  • microbials
  • mycotoxins (molds)

Papa & Barkley offers a limited range of edible and topical products.

All of their available products contain full-spectrum CBD. Although these products contain less than 0.3 percent THC by law, they might not be for you if you want to play it safe and avoid THC altogether. It’s possible for trace amounts of THC to show up on a drug test.

Ranging from $29.99 to $79.99, their products are affordable compared with others on the market. They also offer shipping discounts. You can save around 10 percent by signing up for a regular subscription.

Papa & Barkley has overwhelmingly positive reviews, with many customers citing fast shipping and a quality product. Their few complaints appear to be related to email marketing practices.

Unlike a number of other CBD companies, Papa & Barkley is well established on Trustpilot, where they have more than 1,000 reviews and a 4.7 out of 5 rating. They also have an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau.

They seem to be quick to respond to complaints, and they offer a satisfaction guarantee. If for any reason you’re not satisfied with your purchase, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days. Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply to sale items. Those are final sale.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $40
  • $$ = over $40
Healthline

Releaf Body Oil

Price$
CBD typeFull-spectrum
CBD potency400 milligrams (mg) per 60-milliliter (mL) bottle

This body oil is ideal for at-home massages. It’s a fairly potent formula to help penetrate sore joints and muscles.

The ingredient list also includes vitamin E, which is known to target inflammation and help with cell repair. Added essential oils such as eucalyptus, tea tree, and lavender may offer aromatherapy benefits.

Papa & Barkley suggests a starting dose of two or three pumps. Make sure to thoroughly massage the oil into the skin.

Buy Releaf Body Oil online.

Hemp Releaf Drops

Price$
CBD typeFull-spectrum
CBD potency450 mg per 30-mL bottle or 900 mg per 60-mL bottle

What sets this tincture apart is the fact that it only contains two simple ingredients: MCT oil and hemp-derived CBD. Also known as fractionated coconut oil, MCT oil is a carrier oil that’s metabolized quickly. In other words, it’s ideal for quick absorption of CBD.

If the taste of the natural formula puts you off — reviewers describe it as “natural” and “earthy” — try the lemongrass-ginger version. Both flavors come with a measured dropper, making it easy to dose.

Buy Hemp Releaf Drops online.

Releaf Balm

Price$–$$
CBD typeFull-spectrum
CBD potency180 mg per 15-mL jar or 600 mg per 50-mL jar

This potent topical salve can be used to target aches and pains. It’s made with a beeswax base and includes a blend of relaxation-friendly essential oils such as eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, and lavender.

A popular Papa & Barkley product, it comes highly recommended by customers — it has hundreds of four- and five-star reviews on Trustpilot.

It’s available in two sizes: 15 mL and 50 mL. The recommended serving size is 1 tablespoon, which means that if you purchase the smaller size, you’ll be using it all in one shot.

Buy Releaf Balm online.

Releaf Capsules

Price$$
CBD typeFull-spectrum
CBD potency30 mg per capsule

Capsules are a no-frills way to get the benefits of CBD. There are 30 capsules to a bottle, which means a single bottle will last several weeks or months.

Made only of coconut oil and hemp extract, these capsules don’t contain any unnecessary ingredients. They come in a vegan-friendly capsule and are gluten- and soy-free.

Buy Releaf Capsules online.

Releaf Repair Cream

Price$$
CBD typeFull-spectrum
CBD potency450 mg per 30-mL bottle

Suitable for all skin types, this cream is specially designed for use on the face. It hydrates without feeling heavy or greasy.

Additional ingredients include jojoba oil, which has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and may help treat acne. Another face-friendly ingredient is squalane, a moisturizer that may protect the skin from carcinogens.

The long list of ingredients is a bit intimidating. Although most ingredients are plant extracts, the formula does contain benzyl alcohol, a common cosmetics ingredient that has been flagged by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) as harmful to the immune system.

The cream comes in a convenient pump bottle. One pump produces 1 teaspoon of product, which contains about 15 mg of CBD.

Buy Releaf Repair Cream online.

Releaf Body Lotion

Price$$
CBD typeFull-spectrum
CBD potency750 mg per 75-mL tube

Designed to be hydrating, this body lotion is suitable for spot treatments or allover use. It’s got a refreshing, citrusy scent. Skin-friendly ingredients include jojoba oil, shea butter, and mango seed oil.

Similar to Papa & Barkley’s Releaf Repair Cream, this lotion contains benzyl alcohol. According to the EWG, this ingredient may damage the immune system.

You don’t need to apply much product for it to be effective. The company suggests a starting dose of 5 mL, which is the size of a teaspoon.

Buy Releaf Body Lotion online.

When shopping for CBD, your first step is choosing between an edible and a topical product.

Edibles, including Papa & Barkley’s Hemp Releaf Drops and Releaf Capsules, are taken by mouth. As a result, you’ll feel the effects all over your body. This can promote feelings of relaxation, but keep in mind that if you take them in the day, they might leave you feeling overly tired.

Tinctures are more versatile than capsules. You can use them topically, add them to foods, or simply take them under your tongue. Plus, you have more control over the dose. However, some people dislike the taste.

Topicals are applied directly to the skin. They’re great for spot treatments when you don’t necessarily want to feel CBD’s effects all over your body.

Papa & Barkley offers a variety of topical options, including massage oil, balm, repair cream, and body lotion. In this case, which product you choose is largely a matter of personal preference. You can consider the scent, ingredients, consistency, and potency when deciding.

In general, drops are taken under the tongue, or sublingually, with a dropper. You can also add them to foods or drinks. Capsules are swallowed with water.

Topical products are applied directly to the desired area of the skin and rubbed in. You should try to avoid getting them in your eyes.

If you’re wondering about dosage, it can vary according to factors like your sex and weight. With each product, Papa & Barkley provides a recommended serving size. This is a good place to start. You can gradually increase the dose until you’re satisfied with the effects.

Most research suggests that CBD carries a low risk of serious side effects. It’s widely considered to be safe.

With that said, mild side effects are still possible. The most frequently reported side effects include:

  • fatigue
  • diarrhea
  • changes in appetite
  • changes in weight

Side effects are more likely when you ingest CBD alongside high fat foods like dairy products, red meat, or nuts. The presence of fat increases the amount of CBD absorbed in the bloodstream.

In general, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor before trying CBD for the first time. This is particularly important if you take medication. CBD could make it less effective.

Papa & Barkley is a well-established CBD company based in California. They’re known for their small range of affordable, quality edibles and topicals. They provide comprehensive certificates of analysis online and are transparent about their manufacturing processes.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before trying any CBD products.

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.