May 04, 2020 5 min read

CBD has been the talk of towns all over for quite some time, but recent news reports have shed light on an ongoing issue within the industry—the lack of federal regulations. It's true that some shady brands have been caught red-handed, offering synthetic cannabinoids and other potentially harmful chemicals disguised as harmless CBD products. It's also true that the FDA is working towards building CBD industry guidelines to help prevent this issue, but in the absence of these rules, it is way too easy for unscrupulous brands to sneak past inexperienced, trusting CBD users. 

Luckily, there are still some reliable, consumer-conscious CBD brands out there that are aware of the issue and strive to make the market as transparent as possible for new and experienced users alike. That means it's entirely possible for consumers to find true, high-quality CBD products without any added ingredients, it just takes a little investigation and a little know-how.

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"Spiked CBD" Can Have Serious Risks

According to a recently commissioned study by the Associated Press, finding low-quality improperly labeled CBD products is a real risk. The study included 30 different CBD brands, ten of which were found to contain synthetic cannabinoids, frequently known as "K2" or "spice." This isn't out of line with other government-controlled lab tests, which revealed that 128 out of 350 sampled products contained something other than what was labeled, including this synthetic cannabinoid, melatonin, and more. 

These potentially harmful products have been identified in Florida, North and South Carolina, and even Maryland. In the past, products containing dextromethorphan (DXM), a chemical found in cough syrup, were found wearing a smiling CBD label as well.

These shocking numbers aren't quite representative of the frequency you'll find these products on the market, though, since each of these studies involved hand-picked, suspicious brands. Another way to more accurately sum it up would be to say that "out of 350 suspected contaminated products, 228 were confirmed to contain only CBD and other ingredients as labeled." A large portion of mislabeled products included gummies and edibles, but the overwhelming majority were labeled as CBD vape products. 

The dangers of these mislabeled ingredients are undeniable, especially with many people ending up hospitalized after using knock-off, illegal THC vapor products. Even more, consumers deserve a right to know what exactly is in their CBD products, since taking too much melatonin or DXM, although both FDA-approved, can result in a list of unwanted side effects. That doesn't even begin to touch base on the potential effects of synthetic cannabinoids, most of which feature unreliable, unstable formulations and haven't been properly lab tested.

Some side effects reported after using these misleading CBD products include nausea and vomiting, psychoactive properties, and at its worst, severe lung aggravation.

But These Same Risks Don't Apply to Quality CBD

In fact, the popular cannabinoid has very few side effects, and most studies have identified it as having little or no risk. When side effects happen, they are usually mild, like feeling nauseated or lacking an appetite, and have frequently been linked to taking too much CBD. Because of its low-risk profile, many health professionals and health and consumer safety-focused organizations have openly supported the regulation and widespread use of CBD. 

The World Health Organization website states that the "WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) concluded that, in its pure state, cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm." One clinical study notes that the most commonly reported side effects of cannabidiol were tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite/weight. 

Other research serves to show the possible benefits of CBD, a list that is constantly growing. Much more research is needed to understand the true potential of the naturally-derived compound, but for now, there is much interest surrounding the use of CBD for seizure disorders, pain and inflammationanxiety disorders, and even neurological conditions. Consumers can reap all these benefits and more, despite the hiccups within the industry, but some careful consideration is in order.

How to Identify High-Quality CBD Products

Choosing safe, high-quality cannabidiol and hemp products is possible, and pretty easy assuming you buy CBD online, where information is often more easily accessible. Buying CBD online gives you access to each brand's website, where you should find detailed information about the product's source, purity, added ingredients, suggested usage, and more.

Here are some things you should be able to find on the CBD brand's website. A combination of each of these things acts as a marker for high-quality, consumer-friendly CBD products:

  • Information about the hemp from which the CBD was sourced. Keep in mind that legal CBD products must be sourced from industrial hemp, or a classification of hemp plants that contain less than 0.3% THC.
  • A list of ingredients for every product, including CBD and all other additives, including flavorings, fragrances, essential oils, carrier oils, and more. 
  • A recent, batch-specific Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a certified laboratory verifies these ingredients. This COA should contain potency information about each cannabinoid, including CBD and THC, that appears at detectable levels in the formula. The COA will also contain information about other potential contaminants, like mold, pesticides, heavy metals, or other additives that cause potential harm. Each of these should be listed with a quantifier of some sort, even if it's listed as "ND" (non-detectable) or "0%." If these are left out of the lab report, it may be an attempt to hide non-passing results. 

The website may list even more details about each CBD product, but these three are crucial. If you find more information when you shop for CBD online, even better. In light of the low regulation within the industry, many of the best CBD providers strive to be as transparent as possible, so finding more detailed information about the brand's hemp manufacturing process is a good sign!

Where to Buy CBD Safely

After you learn how to identify high-quality CBD, you should identify legitimate ways to purchase legal CBD products. Many brick-and-mortar stores are beginning to offer a selection of CBD products, but buying in stores can make it more difficult to weed out the fly-by-night brands offering synthetic versions of the popular supplement. Many people worry about these small CBD distributors and start-ups, many of which don't have the budget or platform necessary to properly manufacture, safety test, and market their products. 

A better option may be to buy CBD online, where you can quickly and easily match the requirements above against the CBD brand's website. This makes it easier, too, to contact the brand directly if you have any questions or concerns about the product. 

Shopping online gives you access to a multitude of products so that you can easily choose a CBD dosing method that meets your needs. 

If you decide to buy CBD online, you can choose from a variety of the following products:

Plus, you can usually instantly read other users’ reviews of the product, since each and every CBD formula may offer unique benefits and health effects. Just keep in mind that CBD affects everyone differently, and understanding how to dose CBD is just as important as choosing a high-quality CBD product to start. You may also be interested in reading our CBD Buyers Guide.

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