By Andrew McCormick
Terri Domer knows well what a brewing storm looks like.
Domer, 62, an Iowa native, has spent her life watching thunderstorms gather and tornadoes dash across rolling hills. Last August, when the midday sky darkened over the riverside homeless encampment where Domer and four other people spent most nights — built on a sandy bank near downtown, under tall trees — she quickly set about covering up their supplies.
A campmate said Domer was overreacting and left for a walk. "Suit yourself," she told him.
Domer was busy weighing down a tent when she heard a shout: "I was wrong!" She turned to spot her companion racing back to camp. The sky behind him was "black," Domer said — darker than it had been just moments earlier, darker than she'd ever seen it.
The derecho hit with a fury, winds whipping up sand and snapping limbs overhead. Domer rushed for cover, pulling a tent canopy over her head. Tornadoes typically come and go in minutes. But the derecho, a straight-line windstorm, was relentless. All around Domer, branches and whole trees crashed to the ground.
"I kept thinking, 'When is it going to stop?'" Domer said. She said a prayer that she would live.
It's an immutable truth of the climate crisis that the most vulnerable are hit first and hardest. At a time of rising homelessness in the U.S. and as climate-related disasters become common — wildfires in California, monster hurricanes that thrash the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico, an arctic blast in Texas — the rule holds.
Terri Domer visits the riverside encampment in Cedar Rapids, where she weathered last August's derecho. Andrew McCormick
"We're definitely seeing more homelessness, more housing disruption, as a result of these disasters," said Steve Berg, programs and policy director at the Washington-based National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Climate change didn't directly cause the Midwest derecho last year or any of those other disasters. Scientists are clear, however, that a warmer planet makes extreme weather more likely and more ferocious. For people experiencing homelessness, like Domer, the storms make matters only more difficult. Others are made homeless. In both cases, government agencies and nonprofits provide support, but increasingly the needs exceed their capacity.
Together, these experiences constitute a grim warning that the climate emergency is here already, draining resources and devastating lives.
There are an estimated 580,000 people experiencing homelessness in America, based on a single-night count in January 2020 — the fourth straight year homelessness had increased, according to a study released last month by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was the first year since HUD began collecting data that the number of homeless people with children had gone up. And, as usual, people of color remained starkly overrepresented compared with the U.S. population overall.
Crucially, that's all pre-pandemic data, and the reality is likely to be worse than we know. Millions lost work because of Covid-19, and even as the economy recovers, there remain 8.4 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic hit. Eviction moratoriums have helped, advocates say, but as some of those expire soon, the situation could grow more dire still.
The homeless population in Cedar Rapids numbers in the hundreds. It's a far cry from the tens of thousands in larger cities, like Los Angeles, but the derecho's lingering impact here is a microcosm of the various crises that can befall homeless groups in the aftermath of extreme weather.
When the windstorm finally did let up, about 45 minutes after it had begun, Domer's campsite was in tatters: tents ruined, stoves and lanterns simply gone and just about everything else soiled with wet grime.
What struck Domer most, however, was the quiet. Gone were the normal afternoon sounds of the city. Even the nearby corn processing plant, a reliable source of ambient churning, was silent.
"I realized the whole town had been hit, and I thought, 'Oh, my God,'" Domer said.
The derecho swept across multiple states that day, leaving widespread and often severe damage in its wake. The Cedar Rapids area fared worst, with winds reaching 140 mph, the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane. Two-thirds of the city's famously lush tree canopy was gone, much of it displaced onto streets and homes. And the power was out. In some parts of town, it would be weeks before it returned.
For the homeless, natural disasters prove torturous for more than the obvious fact that it's worse to be outside than inside during a storm.
Only one-quarter of the homeless population is considered "chronically homeless," meaning homeless for more than a year or experiencing repeat bouts of homelessness. At any given time, then, the vast majority of homeless people, including some who are chronically homeless, are scraping their way back toward stability. After disasters, backslide is all but inevitable.
Encampments are destroyed. Resources, often hard-won, are lost. If infrastructure is damaged, a job might become more difficult or impossible to get to.
Furthermore, many people who are homeless wrestle with untreated medical or mental health conditions that disasters might worsen. Domer, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said the derecho triggered substantial anxiety and depression, which she's still coping with. Christian Murphy, who was also on the riverbank during the storm, said he worries that Cedar Rapids' devastated tree stock will lead to lower air quality, complicating trouble he has already with breathing.
After the derecho, a short distance from Domer's and Murphy's encampment, Kari Fisher surveyed the damage to the duplex where she lived with her husband and six children, ages 1 to 10.
When the storm hit, Fisher had been home-schooling, a new responsibility due to the pandemic but one she enjoyed. Structural damage to the home was clear; in the unit opposite Fisher's, a tree had smashed into the kitchen. City officials declared the home unfit for habitation, but with nowhere else to go, Fisher's family stayed. Power was shot for good, so for months they got by using plastic coolers and a propane camping stove. (Thanks to the downed trees, Fisher jokes, they also had plenty of wood.)
In November, police cited the family for unlawful habitation. (Fisher is fighting the citation; she faces possible jail time, even though the family had continued to pay rent.) They were directed to Willis Dady, a homeless services nonprofit, which moved the family into a Hampton Inn & Suites north of town, using federal emergency funds made available to the city.
Fisher expected they'd be there for a couple weeks. Six months later, fully eight months on from the derecho, they're stuck. In two hotel rooms, it's Fisher, her husband, an ex-husband who has a disability, seven children — Fisher gave birth to a boy in February — and two dogs. In the same Hampton Inn & Suites, there are dozens more like Fisher, and it's not the only hotel in town still housing people made homeless by the storm.
"It feels like sardines," Fisher said. "It's not sustainable."
While her husband works, Fisher spends days searching Zillow, Zumper, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace for available homes. On rental application fees alone, the family has spent $4,500 — dipping ever further into diminished savings — but nothing comes through. With so many people looking, prices are high. By the time most units are listed, they're already gone.
"We're in a hole," Fisher said. "No matter how much I do, no matter how many phone calls I make, we're still here." Her "worst nightmare" is that the money supporting their hotel stay will run out before the family finds new shelter.
For six months, after the August derecho destroyed their former home, Kari Fisher and her family have crowded into rooms at a Hampton Inn and Suites. Andrew McCormick
"I'm waiting for it," she said. "And when that happens, it's 'OK, what are we going to do now?' A tent at a campground? I can't raise children in a minivan." As of mid-April, the family hoped to move into a trailer.
Fisher's situation, advocates said, is characteristic. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 — the first major storm in the U.S. that scientists linked to climate change — disasters have been routine drivers of new homelessness.
In Houston, for example, homeless rates fell year over year starting in 2012. In 2018, the year after Hurricane Harvey, they ticked back up. Last year, 11 percent of the city's unsheltered homeless population said they had become homeless because of the hurricane or another natural disaster, according to a survey by Houston's Coalition for the Homeless.
The problem isn't just that homes are destroyed. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, America is short nearly 7 million affordable housing units. During an extreme weather event, affordable housing — more likely to have been built in disaster-prone areas in the first place — is especially vulnerable and often hit the hardest, shrinking the already limited inventory. Pricier homes aren't immune to destruction, of course, so families who are financially better off might also find themselves in need of short-term, lower-cost options. Demand peaks at the same time that options are depleted the most.
"Disasters of this magnitude really trickle out," said Ana Rausch, program operations director at the Coalition for the Homeless. After Harvey, she said, "our regular housing of the homeless pretty much came to a halt, because we were trying to house people in the disaster shelters. And not all of those individuals were homeless."
The pattern goes like this: Disasters push people who had been housing secure toward insecurity. People who were already insecure or severely burdened by housing costs are pushed to the edge of homelessness. And, finally, people who were already homeless are pushed further back in the long wait for limited resources.
The web of government agencies and nonprofits designed to help, meanwhile, is stretched to the max.
In Cedar Rapids, Willis Dady typically serves 500 people in a year, including those who are actively homeless and those who are at risk of becoming homeless. Now, given the combined effects of Covid-19 and the derecho, 500 people need assistance every day, said Alicia Faust, the organization's executive director. The staff has risen to the occasion, working overtime, extending shelter hours and taking on more clients than ever, but still it's hard to keep up.
To fully meet the demand, Faust said, she would need 16 full-time homelessness prevention case managers, working 30 to 35 cases apiece. Willis Dady has three.
Bandwidth issues like that are a nationwide problem, said Berg, of the National Alliance to End Homelessness. And that's in part because the government responses to homelessness and disasters have both tended to treat symptoms of problems and not their root causes.
"There's always a response to the emergency," Berg said. "But there isn't an overall response to people becoming homeless or the [already homeless people] impacted by this weather."
When it comes to homelessness, that is, the response is overwhelmingly oriented toward people already in crisis — not the broad economic currents that underlie homelessness, including soaring rent costs, stagnant wages and the dearth of affordable housing. As for disasters, the government mobilizes in their aftermath, but it hasn't yet taken robust, transformational action to curb climate change and foster resilience.
Several recent and proposed policies could be cause for hope, however. And in some cases, solutions to homelessness and the climate crisis might be one and the same.
Between coronavirus relief measures passed during the Trump administration and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed last month, nearly $80 billion was allocated to HUD, the Treasury Department and various federal grant recipients to fight homelessness and housing instability, a HUD spokesperson said in an email. Moreover, the White House's newly announced $3 trillion-plus infrastructure plan includes funding to build and retrofit 1 million affordable and energy-efficient housing units.
"The Administration's plan will extend affordable housing rental opportunities to underserved communities nationwide, including in rural and tribal areas," the HUD spokesperson said. The plan would also "flexibly support communities in creating housing for people experiencing homelessness and the housing insecure."
Another promise of Biden's infrastructure proposal and Climate Action Plan: millions of jobs, as the administration seeks to build out America's clean energy infrastructure.
Advocates for the homeless expressed cautious optimism. New affordable housing is a clear win, while the benefits of upgrading and retrofitting existing units are twofold: Just as energy efficiency is good for the planet, it lowers utility costs for renters. As for jobs, many people who experience homelessness find work in construction already. If enough training is packaged with the green jobs in Biden's plan, as the administration says it will be, those jobs could be an apt fit and a much-needed path to stability.
Indeed, after the derecho, several members of the Cedar Rapids homeless community found work helping with the cleanup effort. Some continue to work in construction-related jobs as part of a Willis Dady employment initiative.
Domer, as it happens, has a background in road and home construction, with a former specialty in woodwork. She is in her 60s, and both shoulders give her trouble, so those days are probably behind her — she hopes to find work soon driving a cab. But plenty of people she knows, Domer said, would jump at the opportunity. At a time when many are still struggling with the storm's repercussions, it could be a way to finally move on.
"Anything would help," Domer said. "The pandemic was already tough, and then a derecho. We're still trying to figure out what normal looks like."
This story originally appeared in NBC News and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
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There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils for pain, anxiety, and sleep will point you in the right direction.
More and more people are looking to boost their health with CBD oil. The rise in CBD's popularity shows that many people are experiencing positive outcomes through the regular use of CBD to help control and improve difficult health issues.
Our guide to the strongest CBD oils will help to point you in the right direction so that you can choose the best, most potent oil for your needs. We will also educate you about the best CBD oils along the way, while also discussing how we chose our top brands and why.
Does Strength of CBD Oil Matter?
The strength of an oil does matter. The more potent a CBD oil is, the stronger effects it will create. To that end, full spectrum oils are the best oils to go with because CBD isolates do not have all of the other vitamins, terpenes, compounds, and phytonutrients that full spectrum oils have. So, not only will you be getting all the positive effects that a strong oil has to offer, you'll also be able to receive the vast therapeutic benefits that the many compounds, terpenes, and phytonutrients bring to the table.
The strength or concentration of a CBD oil is measured in milligrams of CBD, both per bottle and per serving. For many brands, a serving is considered 1 mL of the oil tincture. The best way to evaluate the strength of a CBD oil by how many milligrams of CBD you will get with each 1 mL dropper.
6 Strongest CBD Oil Brands of 2021
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best for Pain Relief - Spruce CBD Oil
- Best Organic - Cornbread Hemp Distilled CBD Oil
- Best for Sleep - Charlotte's Web CBD Oil
- Best Value - CBDistillery Full Spectrum Tincture
- Best for Calm - Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
- Best Flavors - FAB CBD Oil
How We Chose the Strongest CBD Oil Brands
When it comes to choosing a CBD oil brand, you need to take the time and put in the research to ensure that you are getting the strongest, and best quality product you can purchase.
We've put the time and effort into selecting the top brands that we feel have the strongest CBD oil, the best reputation, and the cleanest, most effective products. When it came to selecting our top strongest CBD oils, we looked at six key categories:
- Type of CBD - We looked to see whether the CBD oil was full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate.
- Strength - We compared the oil strength and purity versus other available options. All of our recommendations offer a concentration of at least 50 mg of CBD per serving.
- Source - Where does the brand source its hemp from, and is it grown organically?
- Flavor - We looked for oil flavors and the ingredients used in the oil.
- Transparency - A key consideration is whether a third-party lab was used to test the products and if those results are easy for customers to find
- Customer experience - We also read verified customer reviews to see what actual users had to say.
Based on these factors, here are the brands that made our list of strongest CBD oils.
6 Strongest CBD Oils of 2021
Best for Pain Relief: Spruce CBD
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 80 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - North Carolina and Kentucky
Why buy: Spruce CBD oils are high-quality, extremely potent, and 100 percent all-natural. We like their high potency CBD oil because it's an organic and all-natural CBD oil that has no added flavor to allow for their strongest CBD concentration in a 30 mL bottle. This is the strongest CBD oil for pain that may help manage aches, pains, and stiffness.
Best Organic: Cornbread Hemp Distilled CBD Oil
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 50 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Kentucky
Why buy — Cornbread Hemp CBD oils are all USDA-certified organic. They use a distillation process designed to preserve as many of the beneficial phytonutrients and minor cannabinoids as possible, and only extract their CBD from the flower of the hemp plant. We love that this CBD oil is vegan, non-GMO, and ideal for daytime use.
Best for Sleep: Charlotte's Web CBD Oil
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 60 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Best Value: CBDistillery Full Spectrum Tincture
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 83 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: CBDistillery is a reputable brand that works hard to create quality, potent, and affordable products. The brand has a broad product line that includes oils, gummies, and topicals. We love the affordability of their extremely potent CBD oils (like the 2500 mg option), and that they use Colorado-grown organic hemp.
Best for Calm: Plant People Drops+ Mind + Bodyplantpeople.coBest for Inflammation: Plant People Drops+ Mind + Body
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 50 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Best Flavors: FAB CBD Oil
- CBD - Full Spectrum
- Strength - 80 mg CBD per 1 mL serving
- Source - Colorado
Why buy: FAB CBD offers some of the strongest, cleanest, and best CBD products out on the market today. FAB's full spectrum CBD oil comes in a variety of flavors and strengths, including mint, citrus, vanilla, natural, and berry oils in strengths of 300 mg, 600 mg, 1200 mg, and 2400 mg. We like FAB CBD oil because it gives you so many different options to find the strongest CBD oil that's right for you.
Research on CBD Oil and Potency
CBD oil is created when cannabidiol, or CBD, is infused into a fat-based carrier oil such as hempseed oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil. Carrier oils are usually medium-chain triglycerides that are easily digested by the body. The very basic oils will only have CBD and the carrier oil, however, some can also contain other compounds such as tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and terpenes. Some brands will also infuse various natural flavors or essential oils into the final products.
CBD oil can vary in color, flavor, and consistency depending on its makeup. Likewise, the strength also depends on the oil's formulation. CBD oils can be isolates, broad spectrum, or full spectrum. In CBD isolates, only pure CBD is used. These oils are usually 99 percent pure. CBD isolates are typically made solely from the hemp plant.
Broad spectrum and full spectrum oils, on the other hand, are typically sourced from the cannabis plant and have had minimal processing and purification. These oils have a large amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, nutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients. The difference between the two is that broad spectrum CBD products contain zero THC.
Along with CBD, one of the main compounds in full spectrum oils is THC. In large amounts, THC causes feelings of euphoria. However, legally, all CBD crafted and sold within the United States must contain less than 0.3% THC. When CBD and THC are combined, an entourage effect occurs. In the entourage effect, the compounds work together to dampen each other's negative side effects while amplifying each other's best qualities. For example, too much THC can cause feelings of nausea or dizziness. However, when THC is combined with CBD, the THC enables those with sleep issues to finally get some rest, and helps those with extreme nausea, due to cancer treatment, finally get some much-needed nourishment by increasing appetite. Put simply, the cannabinoids bind with cell receptors in the human endocannabinoid system to create therapeutic effects.
How to Choose the Right CBD Oil and Potency for You
There are several key factors to take into consideration when choosing the strongest CBD oil for pain, sleep, or anxiety. One of the first things to look at is the concentration of CBD within the product. Next, take a look at the milligrams of CBD that are in a single serving. The best quality products clearly have all the facts and information laid out on their labels. In reading the labels, you should be able to tell exactly how much CBD you are getting per serving. How much CBD you need to be taking depends on how your body reacts to the product over time.
What to Look For
Here are the primary things to look for when comparing the strongest CBD oil options.
CBD Spectrum - Make sure you know whether you are getting a full spectrum, broad spectrum, or CBD isolate oil. This is especially important if you are concerned about THC content.
Concentration - When looking for the strongest CBD oils, you need to be certain of how many milligrams of CBD are contained in each bottle and each 1 mL serving.
Lab Testing - For any CBD product, it's vital that you look for brands who ensure their CBD undergoes independent third-party lab testing for purity and safety.
How to Read Labels
Make sure that you know what to look for on the label of any CBD oil or product. Here are the key things to know.
- Type of CBD - The label should clearly indicate the spectrum of CBD in the oil. If it is a broad spectrum or CBD isolate, it will usually say that it is "THC-Free."
- Dosage Guide - Some brands include a dosage guide on the label to help you measure the appropriate amount of CBD per serving. This is important with higher potency oils.
- Test Results - Look for proof that the CBD has undergone third-party lab testing. Many brands include a QR code or link on the label to the test results for that product.
How to Use
Everyone's body is different, so what works well for one person might not work for another. Smaller individuals might need less CBD than larger individuals based on body size and overall mass. Along with body size, the reason you are taking CBD is another consideration in purchasing strong CBD oil.
Whatever oil strength you choose, you should first start low and go slow when it comes to dosing. For example, begin by taking half of a serving of CBD once a day for one week. If you are not feeling any benefits, then go ahead and take half a dose twice a day. Continue increasing the dosage slowly until you are achieving the desired effects. Always check in with yourself to see how you are feeling along the way. This will help you to determine if you should increase the dosage at all. As with any other medication or holistic supplement, your body will need adequate time to get used to a new CBD dosage, and CBD typically works best as it builds up in your system over time.
Safety & Side Effects
There are very few minor side effects associated with CBD. To date, a great number of studies have been done on CBD showing that it is generally well-tolerated and safe for adults.
Some of the most common side effects associated with CBD include:
- Dry mouth
- Changes in weight
- Changes in appetite
Those suffering from chronic pain or increased stress may benefit from stronger CBD oil tinctures that can provide a more potent dose of cannabinoids. CBD oil can be a great addition to any natural healthcare routine. Just make sure you are putting in the time and effort to find the product and the brand that is best suited to your own unique needs, condition, and lifestyle.