CBD hemp products are popping up everywhere, from health food stores to dog groomers. But as Boston 25 News uncovered, consumers might not always know what they are buying.
In some cases, products labeled with CBD may not actually have any CBD at all.
CBD is not regulated, meaning companies are not required to test to ensure potency levels are as advertised, and no one from the government is doing so either.
Kim Adams felt CBD improved her family’s quality of life so much, she decided to to make them her livelihood.
“It started with a gummy, and that's really where the journey began with CBD,” Adams said. “I had no idea it would take us here.”
Adams started her own business, selling CBD products, including gummies named for her daughter. But even she admits, without regulation, it's hard to know you're getting what you pay for.
“It's scary that anybody can say there's CBD in this, or how much is in it; there's no regulation,” Adams said.
Our sister station purchased seven different CBD samples; mostly oils, but capsules and gummies, and had a Florida laboratory to put them to the test.
“Not everybody operates on the same standards because there are no regulatory standards in the moment,” said Chris Martinez, of Evio Labs, the only ISO accredited cannabis-testing lab in Florida.
Martinez says his chemists run tests about 450 CBD companies nationwide.
“We see a lot of inconsistencies in potency, across various product lines, various SKUs [stock keeping units],” Martinez said.
Of seven samples, only one tested -- PlusCBD Oil Full Spectrum Hemp Drops -- had the exact level of CBD as advertised. The capsules tested were also very close, testing just over 24 milligrams per capsule, with 25 milligrams advertised.
Lab reports for the samples tested of Pinnacle Hemp and Reef Newport Beach CBD oils came back about 50 milligrams lower than advertised. Those companies, which both do testing and provide certificates of authenticity for the products they sell, were contacted, but they have yet to officially respond to the discrepancies.
“If you're going to be in a space where you're creating a product for a patient to increase their standard of living, there has to be a consistency in that product,” Martinez said, reiterating the fact that equal distribution of potency is challenging.
The items purchased from Adams came back with the biggest deficits. Dr. Feel Good oil, advertised at 500 milligrams of CBD, tested for 381. FLA 420 CBD additive advertised at 300 milligrams of CBD, but came back with a level of 85 milligrams.
Testing showed the gummies Adams was selling had zero CBD. She pulled the gummies from her shelves and has since switched distributors.
“I think there should be more checks and balances on it,” Adams said.
Consumer Reports conducted a huge survey on CBD product use and asked experts what customers should look for.
According to Consumer Reports, the best way to find out if a product contains what it says it does is to ask for its COA or certificate of analysis. That shows how it performed on tests, paid for by the manufacturer, that check CBD levels, and whether or not it has contaminants like heavy metals or pesticides.
If an online or retail store won't share that information, Consumer Reports suggests, you look for another product.
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