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Would a regulated CBD market help to improve the quality of products?

The CBD market remains unregulated, and therefore not all CBD products are what they’re cracked up to be. At, we only sell products from tried and tested CBD brands, but for people trying to find out more about the compound, the differing information can be rather confusing.

CBD is, in many ways, a peculiar compound. Unlike THC, which is best known for “getting you high,” cannabidiol doesn’t have one stand-out quality, but several, subtler therapeutic properties. Many see it to be a “cure all,” but the scientific research now available means there’s no excuse for companies providing consumers with vague information about CBD and their products.

As a non-psychoactive compound, the public has a more accepting attitude toward CBD. New studies are constantly revealing new medical benefits or confirming what we already knew about the cannabinoid. The lack of side effects is also a big selling point for CBD products. However, with the growing acceptance of CBD, some companies are taking liberties with how they advertise their products. It’s consumers and medical marijuana patients who pay the biggest price from misinformation and, as some call it, “fake CBD”.

To put the scale of the problem into perspective, consider a set of product tests that the FDA carried out in 2015. Initially, the FDA tested 18 products from five companies, before following up with a further 22 products from eight companies – not one product contained as much CBD as claimed.

Indeed, even more concerning than having lower amounts of CBD than stated, nine of the tested products did not contain any CBD whatsoever. Another 11 products consisted of less than 1mg of CBD. How are companies able to get away with “fake CBD”? Because CBD isn’t mind-altering and its effects are nuanced, it can be difficult for new users and low-dose patients to even tell that they’ve taken it.

FDA testing revealed that, in previous years, manufacturers claimed that their CBD products contained more than 16 times the amount of CBD than was actually present. Therefore, some users would have been consuming such low doses of CBD that their medicating was ineffective.

These figures are certainly worrying for the CBD industry, although there’s no way of telling how big an issue it is at present.

For starters, the FDA testing was carried out three years ago – a very long time ago given how quickly the medical marijuana world is moving. It would be helpful for the agency to conduct another series of testing, or to at least be provided with more extensive information on the results of their 2015 tests.

We know that 40 CBD products had misleading labels, but we don’t know how many products the FDA tested in the first place – if they only tested 40 products, then yes, there is a massive issue; but if there were only 40 discrepancies out of thousands of products, then the problem is relatively minor.

Furthermore, CBD businesses have kept fairly quiet about the FDA’s tests, which is understandable. It doesn’t help them to draw unnecessary attention to a matter that, on the surface, is negative to their industry. However, consumers are done a disservice by being kept in the dark – especially those for who CBD medication is essential. If large doses of the compound are necessary to treat their ailment, consuming a product with 16 times less CBD than thought could be very dangerous.

Some businesses are taking action

But it’s not all bad news. While the industry remains unregulated, many businesses have taken it upon themselves to prove the validity of their products with transparent laboratory testing. Some companies choose to conduct tests in-house, although third-party testing is preferable. These lab tests not only clarify the ingredients in a CBD product, but where the CBD was sourced and the concentrations of the various cannabinoids present.

In the current market, there’s no reason why a company shouldn’t provide consumers with test results for their products, and any brand that doesn’t do this should be looked upon with scepticism.

Should the FDA regulate CBD products?

The cannabis industry has rightfully been wary of federal agencies such as the FDA and the DEA – neither have historically had their best interests at heart, and the latter still doesn’t. However, the increasing acceptance of marijuana medication does, to some extent, extend to these bodies too. Sometimes the FDA has proven helpful by flagging up the problem with “fake CBD”, and other times they seem dead-set on trying to ban products.

But it’s vital that the industry adopts some standards with their products, otherwise consumers pay the biggest price. For CBD to succeed as a medicine, users need to be able to use products with confidence that they contain what the label claims.

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