If you’re reading this article, you’re almost certainly interested in learning more about CBD. That’s great news, as some studies have shown that CBD may be able to help you address a variety of ills.
As you may know, CBD is relatively new to the commercial market, as it was only legalized with the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. While this is an exciting time to be involved with CBD, it also has the potential to be a dangerous one, as the Food & Drug Administration has failed to adequately regulate the area.
At the moment, this means that there are extremely limited federal regulations regarding the sale, labeling, and distribution of CBD. Some states, and good manufacturers and sellers, have stepped in to fill the void. They have engaged in a variety of confidence-building measures that can ensure that CBD customers can buy and use CBD with a measure of assurance that the substances they are ingesting are accurately labeled and properly protected.
However, for all of the good vendors (and thankfully there are plenty), there are bad ones as well. How can you identify these low-quality sellers, and when does it become time to run from a CBD store, product or website? Here are a few tips.
The lack of testing and labeling requirements by the federal government makes it all too easy for unscrupulous vendors to rip off customers and sell them poor quality CBD that fails to adequately label their compounds or ingredients.
Unfortunately, the idea of CBD sellers lying to customers is more than just hypothetical. A 2017 study, conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, tested 84 CBD samples from 31 different companies. It found that nearly 70% of the products were mislabeled for a variety of ingredients or ingredient amounts. Perhaps most dangerously, some products were found to contain THC, even if they were not labeled as such, creating a situation that could put a person into legal jeopardy.
As a result of studies like this, more reputable CBD sellers have taken to getting independent lab testing. These are third-party vendors which are not directly affiliated with the CBD seller. The CBD seller will pay the company to run a lab report on a batch of CBD and come up with a Certificate of Analysis which lists the ingredients and amounts which are in the CBD being tested.
This certificate can give customers peace of mind, as it shows what is truly in the CBD they are about to consume.
A Certificate of Analysis should be easily available. If you are buying off a website, a link should be very clearly available which will take you to the lab reports. If purchasing a product at a brick and mortar store, the lab report should be available on-demand from an employee or via a QR code that is printed clearly on the box.
Fortunately, lab reports and an accompanying Certificate of Analysis can provide customers with a degree of comfort about the purchase they make. However, just because a company says they have a Certificate of Analysis does not mean that you don’t need to look at it. Indeed, some companies may hope that your examination stops before you actually view the certificate.
Here are a few things to watch out for:
When you visit any store or any website, you want to know that their staff understands the product and can answer questions. When you visit a CBD vendor, you want to make sure that the staff does the same. If they can’t answer basic questions (such as “Does this product have THC?” or “Where is the hemp sourced from?”), run away. That shows a staff which is disengaged, and if they can’t answer the basics (or at least find someone who can), who knows what else they are missing.
There is one area where the FDA has been aggressive when it comes to CBD regulatory enforcement: Stopping companies that make medical claims.
As noted above, some studies (and plenty of anecdotal reports) show that CBD may have numerous benefits. There is nothing wrong with making this perfectly accurate claim. However, more definitive statements (“CBD will help you get rid of cancer”) are both wrong and not accepted by the FDA, as they violate regulations against making medical claims without more definitive scientific evidence.
Indeed, the FDA has repeatedly issued cease and desist letters to CBD sellers, demanding that they stop marketing CBD as having definite medicinal properties.
So, what does this mean for you? Simple: If you see a website or store which is advertising CBD as definitively being able to cure you of certain symptoms, avoid them at all costs.
This is for two reasons. First is obvious: It’s just not true. Further study is needed before these definitive medical claims can be made. That is not to say that CBD cannot help you, and many have found significant and real relief from its use. But it is to say that CBD cannot be marketed as such just yet.
Second is more subtle: It shows poor research. The FDA has sent letters to dozens of companies. They have been very clear in their guidance about how CBD cannot be marketed. If a company fails to follow these basic instructions, what other basics are they getting wrong?
With a little bit of caution, you can easily determine whether or not CBD vendors are good or bad, and the vast majority are good. Following the steps above will make sure that you are an informed consumer. Do this, and you will go a long way towards protecting yourself and only purchasing and using high-quality CBD.