As you may know, no form of cannabis – CBD included – has yet to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Depending on your position in the industry (business owner vs consumer), however, not being subject to the FDA’s rigorous approval systems and regulation standards can be a good thing or a bad thing.
On the one hand, it’s great that they don’t have their proverbial arm up everyone’s business, probing and prying through every step of the manufacturing process. On the other hand, though, the lack of regulation is allowing some CBD “manufacturers” (depending on their shrewdness and overall level of honesty and morality), to market and sell “CBD oils” that in fact have very little, if any, actual CBD in them.
This little catch-22 has been going on ever since medical cannabis and CBD started to really increase in popularity, probably some 2-3 years ago. And of course, it makes it tough for consumers to know whether or not they are getting a reliable and effective product.
Moreover, the reputability and effectiveness of CBD oil is crucial as well for the cannabis industry in general, as you don’t want people who are trying CBD to be turned off to cannabis completely, just because they had a bad experience with a low quality product.
In this article, we look at a few studies that have been showing how the majority of CBD concentrates are wildly mislabeled in terms of their ingredients and CBD content. While there are plenty of therapeutically effective, high quality products out there, it really pays for the consumer to know understand the risks that are currently running rampant in the industry.
Studies Show Over 70% of CBD Extracts Sold Online are Mislabeled
In November 2017, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws published an article based on research conducted by a team from the University of Pennsylvania. The study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, examined 84 CBD-infused products from 31 different companies, and analyzed them for the presence of ingredients that were listed on the label. The results, to put it mildly, were not that great. Just 30% of the products, in fact, contained a CBD content that was within 10% of the amount listed on the label.
It was evident that CBD vape liquids and vape oils were the most commonly mislabeled, although NORML reported that a similar study done by the same team on cannabinoid edibles produced similar results.
So what exactly does this mean for you, the consumer? What are you supposed to do to ensure that you’re getting a good, reliable, effective, and most importantly, safe product? Well, believe it or not your options are rather limited, given the current unregulated nature of the industry. Since these companies are not actual marketing their products as “foods” or “medicines”, they are keeping out of the reach of the jurisdiction of the FDA, which of course is the nation’s authority on “Food” and “Drug” regulations.
In fact the study’s lead author, Marcel Bonn-Miller of the University of Pennsylvania research team, had this to say in a press release about the current CBD predicament:
“There are currently no standards for producing, testing, or labeling these oils … selling these oils without oversight, there is no way to know what is actually in the bottle.”
Sound scary? Yeah, we totally agree.
What you can do, though, is be very wary about what you’re shopping for online. Since it’s more or less possible for any of these “companies” to bottle up a glorified canola oil and sell it as “CBD oil,” you really need to take extra precautions to ensure that you’re not wasting your money. Or more important, ingesting something with hazardous chemicals and solvent residues in it.
We actually did an article not too long ago about what firsthand CBD users have been saying on Reddit, so you might want to check that one out if you’d like to hear what some actual long-time cannabidiol users are saying in terms of which are the best products out there. (And in case you’ve never heard of it before, Reddit is basically a global chat platform where ‘regular’ people from all over the world can log in to discuss particular topics. It is an excellent resource for quality, unbiased information).
Why Mislabeled CBD Oils can Cause Serious Problems on a Variety of Levels
Buying an inaccurately-labeled CBD oil has many more repercussions other than you losing out on the little bit of money that you spent on it.
For one thing, think of all the thousands of people that have likely been turned off to CBD (and medical cannabis in general), just because they tried a low-quality product and had a bad experience with it. This can cause a windfall effect with the potential to turn countless others away from it, just off off word of mouth alone.
For instance say someone had heard positive things about CBD for anxiety or pain, for instance, and then decided to go online and buy a bottle to try out it out for themselves. After they purchase it, try it, and realize that it doesn’t do anything for them, they’re gonna be pretty upset – if not downright angry. Of course, this will likely cause them to go and tell their friends, “oh yeah don’t use CBD oil… I tried it and it was a complete waste of money.” Then they will tell their friends and family, and so on and so forth.
Moreover, inaccurately labeled CBD oils can potentially cause serious health effects for those people who are actually trying to use it as a medicine or therapy to replace other, more harmful drugs.
If someone suffering from epilepsy gives up their prescription meds upon hearing that CBD oil works just as well (with far fewer side effects), for example, they could be subject to some devastating consequences if they purchase a mislabeled oil that in fact has little or no actual CBD in it.
Again, do what you can to research a good, reliable product so that you ensure this doesn’t happen to you. And if you have any questions about anything, feel free to comment below or message us through our Facebook page.
Mislabeled CBD Oils Can Also Cause You to Fail a Marijuana Drug Test
Another critically important factor in terms of mislabeled CBD products that we haven’t even mentioned, is the fact that they can potentially cause you to fail a marijuana drug test that screens for the presence of THC.
Going back to the University of Pennsylvania study that we mentioned earlier, results showed that in addition to an inaccurate amounts of CBD being listed on the label, some products also contained small amounts of THC, even though they were marketed as “THC-free.”
While the trace amounts of THC likely weren’t enough to produce a high, they could very well be enough to show up on a marijuana drug screening and cause you to fail the test. While unlikely, it has happened many times in the past, and is almost certainly due to poor, low-quality, inaccurately labeled liquid CBD extracts and oils.
Final Thoughts on Mislabeled CBD Oils and Other CBD-Infused Products
In conclusion, research has shown that as many as 70% of CBD oils and other CBD-infused products that are for sale online, may be inaccurately labeled. And in fact, that 70% is probably a bit generous considering that the researchers allowed for a +/-10% discrepancy in terms of actual CBD content compared to the amount that was listed on the label. If they were more strict and required a discrepancy of say, 5% or less, that 70% very easily may be closer to 90% or more.
So in short, as a consumer you really need to do your due diligence and be wary of the CBD products you are shopping for and purchasing online. While we generally try and avoid coming right out and saying “we recommend such-and-such brand,” a good place to start looking (in terms of finding a CBD product that’s suitable for you and your needs), might be our Top 20 CBD Oil Guide for 2018. Here, we’ve hand-picked some of the best and most reputable companies out there, and selected the products that are in our opinion the safest and most effective out there.
Of course, always proceed with the understanding that CBD will work differently for every individual, and while some may experience amazingly powerful therapeutic effects, others may experience nothing at all.