What are you buying when you get CBD
Ever since the passage of the Farm Bill of 2018, CBD is everywhere, with CBD supplements, oils, gummies, topical ointments and creams, and vape oil being mixed and sold by everyone from mom and pop corner stores to large vertically integrated providers with professional labs. Anecdotal as well as scientific evidence is widely available to back up claims of its therapeutic use, but regulation, testing, and oversight is still in the early stages. How then, can you be assured of each product’s purity, which ingredients are included and what level of THC is involved?
At present, CBD is not technically considered a food or a dietary supplement by the FDA, and the regulatory agency has not yet put strict regulations, testing and labeling requirements in place. For most of our foods and over-the-counter supplements, we rely on the FDA to oversee production, guarantee that what the manufacturer puts on the label is true, ensure that they are free from contaminants and that false claims are not being made. Such as not yet the case with CBD products.
While commercial CBD products are still facing an uncertain regulatory environment and do not yet face the same level of scrutiny as say, a bottle of acetaminophen, they do nonetheless have to meet the standards and expectations of the marketplace. It is in any commercial company’s best interests to reassure its customers, and some CBD companies are already getting ahead of the game and proactively adding their own strict labeling standards, using third party testing labs and taking steps to guarantee a high level of quality and true labeling to their customers.
Although CBD manufacturers are not required by law to have their products tested by an independent third-party lab, there is a powerful market incentive to do so, and the more reputable manufacturers are doing just that as a way of ensuring quality. This sort of third-party testing has rapidly become a de facto industry best practice and is a powerful way to guarantee consumers that a product’s content and potency have been verified. Even though it is not required by law, the most reputable CBD providers will provide this extra level of verification.
A third-party testing lab is an unbiased lab, which examines the CBD product’s contents, potency, and purity. Testing is done in a lab by scientists, using analytical lab equipment such as high-performance liquid chromatography. Because this tends to be costly equipment that takes special skills to use, some start-ups, mom-and-pop manufacturers or worse, bootleggers, simply don’t use them. Presently, without stricter FDA regulations as to labeling and content, it all comes down to finding a brand you trust. Some CBD providers like CBDfx, available online at Nug Republic, have taken this extra step, ensuring that all products have all been tested in an independent lab to guarantee both potency and quality.
The dosage question
Equally important to the question of “what’s in this product,” is how potent it is. There are two problems. First, many CBD products have a mismatch between the actual CBD potency level, and what is on the label. In some studies, as high as four out of five products tested did not have the level of CBD as was claimed on the label.
Second, even if you do have a clear and accurate potency level on your product, there is no clear guidance from research as to what level is actually therapeutic. More is not always better, and most dosage guidance is anecdotal and trial-and-error. The lack of uniform regulations that govern labeling and content makes determining the appropriate dosage even more challenging.
Just what are the labeling requirements today?
At the federal level, the FDA currently has no labeling requirements or guidelines, although manufacturers have two additional resources when it comes to labeling. First, their industry has standards and best practices of their own. Also, mandates and regulations of CBD are already starting to emerge at the state level, and as such, understanding how accurate the label may be or how strictly the contents are monitored may depend on the state of manufacture. Those states which have existing laws pertaining to the legal use of cannabis and cannabis-related products like CBD are more likely to have some regulations already in place. In California for example, labels must include the cannabinoid content per package and per serving.
Advice for consumers
Eventually, the FDA will impose a set of standards that all CBD manufacturers will have to follow, and this will go a long way towards providing an environment where consumers feel safe in their purchases. Meanwhile, consumers can follow a few common-sense rules when it comes to purchasing CBD:
- Don’t buy CBD products from a “bootleg” source or from a small shop that mixes it in-house.
- DO buy CBD products manufactured by professional labs that adhere to high standards of quality.
- Always look for products that are verified by a third-party testing lab.
- Look for CBD products with detailed labeling with information about the amount of CBD per serving, other ingredients, the name of the manufacturer, and whether it is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or isolate.
- Watch out for marketing buzzwords like “pure” or “organic.” These are meaningless.
Most CBD products on the market today are going to be safe and free from contaminants or residual solvents. Nonetheless, it’s still a good idea to buy products from a reputable and recognized manufacturer who is more likely to have quality processes in place in their manufacturing facility and verification from a third-party testing facility. While no CBD manufacturer wants to sell a contaminated product, it’s more likely to happen accidentally when it’s manufactured in somebody’s garage than in a controlled lab. More than anything, finding a provider who is committed to clear labeling, accurate testing, and full transparency is the most important consideration in buying CBD and choosing a reputable provider.
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