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Are CBD Labels Accurate? Too Many Brands Are Misleading Consumers, Studies Show

September 28, 2020 2:45 pm
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Product mislabeling is still a problematic issue across the CBD industry, according to recent studies.

Earlier this month, Leafreport posted results from a test of 22 infused beverages from 20 popular brands.

The brand review website found that 54% of the products contained less CBD than advertised.

"Point being, it takes more work to produce accurate, high-quality CBD beverages than CBD oils," the report stated. "And as we can see from these results, most companies are not putting in that extra work."

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA) also conducted a study of CBD products. Of the 31 products it tested for cannabinoid content, 21 products listed their CBD per serving information on the packaging.

"Of these 21 products, seven products (33 percent) contained CBD within 20 percent of the amount indicated," the report stated. "Of the 10 products that did not indicate the amount of CBD included in the product, six contained CBD and four did not."

One reason the problem persists is because "CBD" has become a broad umbrella term for products, according to Tyler Turner, the co-founder of Denver-based CBD brand Jupiter.

"We are calling a spectrum of products CBD Oil," he said. "CBD is one cannabinoid that is extracted from the hemp plant."

There's also a difference between "whole plant" and "flower extraction."

"When you extract the whole plant you get a ton of what is essentially filler — tastes awful and really dilutes the amount of actual CBD," he explained.

Some operators also list the hemp extract milligram content, not CBD.

"A consumer thinks that means 2,000 milligrams of CBD, but that means 2,000 milligrams of hemp extract," Turner said. "If you lab test that oil, it's not going to have anywhere near 2000 milligrams of CBD."

For Ryan Kocot, general counsel at Sacramento-based Ikanik Life, the CBD space is in this predicament because of its federal legal status.

"Many of the mislabeling headlines can be attributed to the patchwork of regulations that are being developed state-by-state due to the inaction of the federal government," Kocot said. "The delay in promulgating regulations or other guidance by the FDA has led to a lack of uniformity across the board, and the same scenario is playing out on the international stage as we speak."

Franny Tacy, North Carolina's first legal female hemp farmer, is the owner of Franny's Farmacy. While citing regulations as a core concern, Tacy said the issue runs deeper.

"Now is a time where people are researching, purchasing and using alternatives to pharmaceuticals for their health because of expensive insurance and side-effects among the most popular reasons," she said. "CBD is a gateway to a variety of other plant-based health products, such as psilocybin, that the public is using."

Consumer Advice

Jupiter's Turner believes industry self-governance is ideal, but is likely impossible as newcomers and unethical operators continue to enter the burgeoning market.

"If there is no government oversight, I would hope and expect one or more third-party operations to get traction as a seal of approval, ethics, or efficacy," Turner stated. "I know of some, but none of them appear to be capable of being an industry leader."

Turner also offered up what he considers both easy and difficult solutions.

The easier route involves finding verified, unpaid third-party reviews. The more challenging path requires studying documents, such as lab findings, for first-hand information gathering.

"Understand who has the incentive to mislead, and who has the incentive to be honest," Turner said. 

Related links:
4 Takeaways From The FDA's CBD Accuracy Report
The FDA's Report To Congress On CBD: What You Need To Know

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