The CBD market continues to grow, but consumers are at risk in an exploding market. A simple truth is that quality standards and industry oversight has not kept pace with demand.
We regularly test CBD products to protect consumers and make them aware of the risks of buying CBD products online.
In our latest round of testing, we looked at cannabinoid content, pesticides, heavy metals, and residual solvents in 15 different products. At a certified lab, we tested a selection of oils, gummies, capsules, and vape liquids.
What we found confirmed that the industry has a long way to go before a consumer can buy CBD online and feel comfortable about the value they are getting.
Mislabeled products cost consumers in a few ways. First, CBD products are not cheap. If you buy a certain amount of CBD, you should get what you pay for. Second, if you are trying to self-treat an ailment with CBD, you want to be able to control your dose. Lastly, poorly made or mislabeled products cost good brands who are intent on doing things right. Bad products hurt the reputation of an industry that has the potential to do real good.
When we looked at cannabinoid content, or the amount of CBD per milligram of product, and compared test results to the labeled CBD content, lab tests found the majority of products contained less CBD than advertised.
Products that were off label by 20% or more were considered mislabeled.
8 of 15 products we tested were mislabeled, having at least 20% less CBD than the label advertised.
All the gummies tested were mislabeled.
Nature’s Tru gummies contained zero CBD
Just CBD gummies, a brand we (and others) have found to be mislabeled before, contained little CBD
and a Purekana gummy contained less CBD than advertised
Remedy Review has requested information from Purekana on the size of their capsules to verify the label.
About the Testing Process
Tests were completed at Avazyme, Inc., of Durham, NC. Avazyme is a DEA & State Certified Laboratory. The founder, President and CEO of Avazyme, Volker Bornemann, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor at NCSU and on the AgTech Scientific Advisory Board of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. He is also an advisor to Remedy Review.
Vapes are popular because they offer quick relief. Studies have also shown CBD vapes may help people quit smoking cigarettes.
But news reports about the dangers of poorly made and counterfeit vape liquids have raised concerns about the products.
Lab tests revealed residual solvents and pesticides in vape liquids.
Nature’s Script mango vape and Reef vapable CBD e-liquid contained Ethyl acetate. Ethyl acetate is flammable and potentially toxic when ingested or inhaled. PubChem notes the potential health hazards of Ethyl acetate include “headache, irritation of respiratory passages and eyes, dizziness and nausea, weakness, loss of consciousness.”
Reef vapable CBD e-liquid also contained Chlorantraniliprole, a pesticide. According to the EPA, “Overall, Chlorantraniliprole exhibits minimal mammalian toxicity after long-term exposure.” This assessment is based on EPA data for food use. No toxicological data is available for inhalation.
Hemp Bombs peppermint-flavored tincture contained Boscalid. According to the EPA, “Boscalid is classified as ‘suggestive evidence of carcinogenicity, but not sufficient to assess human carcinogenic potential’.”
While the levels of these chemicals were low, the concern is the presence of any contaminant in a product that is taken directly into the lungs.
Overall, 3 out of 15 products contained a pesticide.
In addition to the two vape liquids, the Uncanny Daily Dose Capsule we tested contained Lufenuron. The lab was able to repeat the result, finding essentially the same amount of Lufenuron in multiple capsules in the bottle.
Remedy Review will test a new batch of Uncanny Daily Dose Capsules and the brand has said it’s in the process of instituting new quality control measures, including batch-specific test results accessible on product labels via QR code.
Heavy Metals in Natural Health Products
Nine of 15 products tested contained a detectable level of heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury.
The levels of these heavy metals may not be dangerous to people buying the products, but it is a reminder to consumers to check or request heavy metal tests before buying supplements, especially hemp products.
Methanol in CBD Oil
Some manufacturers use alcohol and other solvents to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from hemp. These processes can be safe when done correctly. But brands should avoid leaving any solvents in the finished products.
A sample of RSHO (Real Scientific Hemp Oil) contained Methanol at 1477 ppm. This level of Methanol is under an established limit of 3000 ppm set by both the state of California and Massachusetts.
In a statement to Remedy Review, Medical Marijuana, Inc.’s disputed the test result.
“Our third-party lab test result, as attached, clearly shows that no solvent is detected in our product, RSHO Gold tincture. We stand by our quality commitment and test our products thoroughly using third party labs. We deliver our products with the highest quality standard.
We strongly dispute the result indicating that there may be some methanol in RSHO Gold tincture. However, even if this number was accurate (which it is not, shown by our COA), it is still less than half the allowable limit set by the state of California. In fact, the state of California considers cannabis products with up to 3,000 ppm of methanol to be safe. We deliver the quality that we promise and we will continue to do so.”
Both tests were conducted on batch #201902222. Pharmaceutical companies have processes in place to guard against intra-batch variability, but this is not required for hemp products. The lab stood by the test result.
We believe in the potential of CBD to help people. From pain and anxiety to sleep and focus, there are published studies and a wealth of anecdotal evidence to support the health potential of hemp.
But there are issues with CBD products being sold in an unregulated market that many have described as the “Wild West.”
The FDA has warned companies who market CBD products with unfounded health claims. The agency has alsocalled out brands for selling products with inaccurate labels. In all, the FDA issued 22 CBD-related warnings in 2019. A trend that is sure to continue in 2020.
Mislabeled products, contaminated products, and products with no CBD in them have also been documented by other publications.
Yet despite the industry’s flaws, no clear guidance has been issued to brands who want to do things right and in the absence of oversight consumers are on their own to separate fact from fiction.
Consumers who want to buy CBD online should do research and read reviews about the brands they are considering. They should request third-party lab tests that go beyond simply a check of CBD content. Then, when a brand lets them down or delivers a great product, they should be vocal about their experience.
In a quickly evolving product category, more testing, discussion, and reporting about product quality is needed to make sure consumers are not duped or, worse, endangered.