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The Risk of Mislabeled CBD Products

The CBD and hemp industries are growing remarkably quickly. Since the passage of the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills, a variety of manufacturers from a myriad of industries have all decided to get in on the CBD game. While this means increased competition between manufacturers and a wide variety of products for consumers, it doesn’t always mean that consumers are getting the quality products that they deserve.


This is most evident in a 2017 study completed by Penn Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The result of the study was the suggestion that nearly 70% of all CBD products sold online are not labeled correctly, which could lead to health concerns for consumers. But what’s causing this problem and how are legitimate CBD product manufacturers handling this issue? As a leading provider of high-quality CBD products, Medimorphic has decided to explore this issue in depth.


What are these Studies Finding?

While the study from Penn medicine was perhaps the most pronounced, the researchers there are not the only ones conducting surveys like these. In fact, the study at the University of Pennsylvania was one of many. The Veterans Affairs office in San Diego, RTI International, Americans for Safe Access, Palo Alto University, and John Hopkins University have all conducted similar studies. The result is that 84 CBD products were compared looking at their results and their advertised concentrations.


The results of these studies have been fascinating. It was found that 26% of these products contain less CBD than labeled, while 43% actually contained more. What this means is that there is a wide range of concentrations and amounts of CBD in these products, which indicates that there is very little in the way of standardizing CBD products. However, some products were more accurate than others with 45% of CBD oils having an accurate label as compared to 25% for tinctures and only 12.5% for vape e-liquids.


What’s Actually In These CBD Products

So if your CBD products do not contain the concentrations they’re advertised as, then what's in these CBD products? These studies found that 21% of samples, tetrahydrocannabinol was found. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that leaves you with the "high" feeling. Not only is this cannabis compound undesirable for many people, it's also illegal in many states. Indeed, the presence of THC in your CBD products could lead to legal problems should you fail a drug test after using a CBD product. THC may also leave people with undesirable side effects like being "stoned," which can inhibit clear cognitive and motor functions. These products are also unsafe for children to consume, as the amounts of THC found these products were sufficient enough for children to become intoxicated should they use them.


What Does It Mean to Have a “Mislabeled” Product

The studies listed above created two categories for these products: products were either under-labeled or over-labeled. For that 42% of products that were under-labeled, it meant that they had a higher concentration of CBD than listed on the packaging. For the 26% of products that were over-labeled, it meant that the product had a lower concentration of CBD than listed. The surveys found that only 30% of the CBD products tested had a CBD content within 10% of what was listed on the product.


While you cannot overdose from taking too much CBD, you may experience some side effects. The real concern then is not taking too much but making sure that you're getting the right amount. If an individual takes a product that contains too much or too little CBD, it could prevent them from achieving the desired health effects. Inconsistency with packaging and even across product lines could also make it difficult for consumers to have reliable responses to CBD. One of the concerns of the study was that for individuals who use CBD to help manage anxiety, pain, or other conditions, they may not be getting enough of the cannabis compound for it to be effective.


Moreover, for products that are listed as having a 0% THC concentration, but actually do have the psychoactive compound, it could lead to adverse health effects. CBD has been often used as a way to help with epilepsy management plans in children, and parents may accidentally give their child a THC-based product without realizing it. In addition to the presence of THC, many of the products tested for high levels of solvents, which can be dangerous to consume or inhale. In some instances, these can even have a caustic effect on the lungs of those who might choose to vaporize them. Rather than enhancing their health, these mislabeled CBD products may have a negative impact on the user's health.


Why Is This Happening

Researchers and industry experts suggest that there is a wide variety of reasons that mislabeling CBD is an issue.


First are pressing economic factors. Since the passage of the 2014 and 2018 farm bills, analysts have expected the CBD market to explode to more than $16 billion by 2025. This means that nearly anyone is ready to get their cut of this burgeoning industry, and may not be exactly qualified to do so. This, when paired with little in the way of government oversight of these products, means that companies can source their industrial hemp from any number of places and use less-than-ideal extraction methods to create their CBD products. With no way to accurately test these products, and no legal mandate to do so, they release products with only rough estimates of what the actual CBD concentration is.


Access to CBD products also plays a role. Despite being legal for medical use in several states, CBD is still technically classified as a Schedule 1 controlled dangerous substance by the DEA. This means that for many, rather than going to a store to purchase their CBD products from a reputable producer, many people are turning to online sources for these products.


Another reason for these mislabeled products is for the dearth of regulations surrounding CBD. Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, the lead researcher of the Penn Medicine study, argues that the mislabeling of CBD products can be directly tied to inadequate regulation and oversight on behalf of the government. Since CBD is not federally legal, the Food and Drug Administration is not available to help with quality assurance. That means there are no standardized measures for producing, refining, testing, and labeling CBD products. This means there's little way in determining exactly what's in a CBD product.


The FDA May Be Making Changes

But the current lack of federal oversight may not last for much longer. Outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb of the FDA has assembled a group to create pathways for dietary supplements and other CBD products to be conventionally marketed and regulated. Additionally, the FDA will be holding public hearings in the summer of 2019 to discuss whether or not CBD is a drug. The dialogue will concern whether the cannabis compound should be regulated and sold like a pharmaceutical or if it can be considered a food additive.


Industry entrepreneurs as well as mainstays in the CBD field all agree that additional FDA regulation would actually benefit the CBD industry as a whole. For CBD manufacturers already using strict measurements, guidelines, and purity standards, federal regulations would weed out the competitors, opening the market for them to make more money. For consumers, the benefits are numerous. The market will be safer and more reliable, ensuring that individuals are only using products that are meant to truly enhance their health.


How CBD is Tested for Purity

Until the FDA settles on legal mandates and standardized measures of testing for CBD products and concentrations, many manufacturers are instead choosing to do these things on their own. The rise of third-party CBD testing in the last two years has been one way for manufacturers to ensure that they can offer accurately labeled, pure, and potent CBD products.


What is Third-Party Lab Testing?

Rather than simply guessing and putting a label on their products, some CBD manufacturers are cooperating with off-site labs to test their products for them. Using these results, they can accurately label their products. This ensures that the consumer gets a high-quality product and that the producer is able to hold their CBD products, like oils, topicals, and mists to high standards.


Additionally, third-party lab testing is actually a cost-saving measure for many CBD makers. While there isn’t any official regulation on the part of the FDA, should the institution find a CBD product to be harmful, they can pull it from the market, and inspect the facilities it’s made in. This can quickly become a costly process for companies. This off-site testing then is a great way to ensure that companies are protecting not only their consumers, but their profit-margins as well.


Buy Your Reliably Sourced CBD Today

When it comes to premium hemp-based products, the Medimorphic family of products is your first choice. With micro-mists, softgels, and topicals, you can easily include our line of CBD products in your health and wellness plans. Browse our selection today, or explore our nuhumun line to see what it has to offer you.

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