Inside the CBD Industry Boom!

Playing Drs. Investigate: Are You Getting Fake CBD Products?

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is the non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, and it's having a moment! CBD is popping up all over in products ranging from coffee to gummy bears and is found in smoke shops, dispensaries, even your local grocery stores. Senior investigative producer Leslie Marcus dives into this unscrupulous market and reveals, in an unregulated industry, many of these products are not what they claim to be.

Leslie visits CannaSafe, an accredited cannabis testing lab, bringing with her over 20 products claiming to contain CBD. She is joined by the Director of the UCLA Research Initiative, Dr. Jeffrey Chen, to discuss what happens if some of these products are fake.

Dr. Chen explains some of these CBD products are not derived from hemp, but rather, being synthesized in a lab. If there is a misstep, companies may end up with something that is not actually CBD and there is no way to know what it will do to the body. They become similar to Spice, which is synthetic marijuana, and by creating these new chemicals they can avoid DEA detection allowing these products to be sold.

The president of CannaSafe Labs, Aaron Riley, shares with Leslie how they test products. He says most CBD products don’t match the label claims and some don’t contain any CBD at all! Let’s see if Leslie’s products stand up to the test.

The results? Leslie joins The Doctors in the studio to prove Aaron’s point, most of the items she bought did not match up to what they claimed. “The lab tests were appalling,” Leslie reports. Of the 20 products she had tested, 16 failed to meet the lab requirements. Five of the products didn’t contain any CBD at all! Some claimed 100mg of CBD and had as little as 3mg. There was even a CBD e-cigarette fluid which was found to contain dangerously high levels of a solvent, ethanoyl, which Aaron said could make someone very sick!

It may surprise you, but the best place to purchase CBD products are marijuana dispensaries, where they are regulated and lab tested by an accredited third party. Leslie called many of the companies of the CBD products she purchased and only one of the companies was able to send Leslie their accredited lab tested results. Walking into stores, she was often sold on all the potential benefits of CBD, yet it was really unknown how much if any those products contained!

Dermatologist Dr. Sonia Batra asks Dr. Chen, who joins on Skype, for people trying to use CBD to treat a condition, are there any benefits if the product doesn’t have as much CBD as listed? Dr. Chen explains it’s likely the product won’t have any effect at all and in the less common case that there is more CBD than listed, there is a chance it could be harmful if it interacts with any drugs the user is taking. 

CBD products are available all over in California yet there is no uniform policy from state to state. There is a regulatory maze surrounding this because the USD says if CBD comes from hemp it is an agricultural product yet the FDA says it’s a pharmaceutical. (The first CBD pharma product to be used to treat seizures was just recently approved by the FDA.) This allows companies to go inside this market and make all sorts of claims! 

Dr. Chen explains that the CA Department of Public Health announced CBD products sold in dispensaries are regulated by cannabis law but CBD products sold outside that context are going to abide by federal guidelines. There is a farm bill, if passed, which would make all hemp products completely legal and cannabinoids from hemp will no longer be a controlled substance. 

The Doctors reiterate dispensaries are the best places to purchase CBD products and while there is likely a stigma surrounding them, ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says when dealing with just CBD, not THC products, this is a stigma we should get rid of. Dr. Chen notes, however, in some states you may need a medical recommendation to enter a dispensary and that may be very difficult to get.

Watch: Do YOu Want CBD in Your Coffee?

CBD products are very likely to have a placebo effect given the “miraculous reputation,” as Dr. Chen says, of all that cannabis products can do for your health. This is an industry that right now is “the wild, wild west,” says Dr. Travis, and greater regulation is needed. CBD brings great benefits but this is a warning to beware, what you think you’re getting may not be the case.

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