By Emily Blum, M.D.
CBD Regulation Standards: Where Are We Now?
Despite the legalization of hemp production and hemp-derived CBD oil in 2019, the CBD industry is largely unregulated. While the Farm Bill legalized hemp and removed low-THC cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act, it also maintained the FDA’s regulation over it. Prescription drugs, such as the CBD isolate Epidiolex, are tightly regulated by the FDA and held to strict production standards. This is because Epidiolex creator GW Pharmaceuticals pursued FDA approval, which required them to have undergone strict testing in order to make medical claims.
Dietary supplements and nutraceuticals fall under different regulation than drugs like Epidiolex. Earlier this year, the FDA began hearings on the regulation of CBD to determine its classification. Currently, CBD companies are not held to any testing standards, and the FDA only regulates the fact that they cannot make therapeutic health claims. Because of that lack of regulation, it is imperative that you obtain CBD from trusted sources.
Who’s Growing Your CBD?
The largest grower of hemp in the world is China, followed distantly by Canada and, most recently, the United States. The quality of the soil that the hemp is grown in, as well as any of the chemicals the plants are exposed to, have the potential to make it into the end product that you use. A recent investigative report by Ellipse Analytics and CBS Austin tested 240 of the top-selling CBD products and found that 70% of them showed evidence of heavy metals like lead and arsenic, pesticides, herbicides (such as the active ingredient in RoundUp), toxic mold, and bisphenol A (BPA). In addition to finding contaminants, their research showed that more than half of the products had false claims regarding the concentration of CBD.
Healios CBD is organically grown in Colorado farmland and greenhouses. Because we believe in being transparent about our business practices, we provide downloadable lab results to assure our customers of our non-GMO, completely gluten-free cannabidiol (CBD) products, which contain zero THC, pesticides, metals, or harsh chemicals.
Counterfeit CBD is also a dangerous problem, with synthetic cannabinoids such as 4-ccb and 5f-adb (also known as K2 or spice) being found in commercially available products that claim to be CBD. For example, Yolo CBD was found to be responsible for illnesses such as seizures and extreme confusion in a reported 52 patients in Salt Lake City. Another study, this one by Virginia Commonwealth University, tested seven products and nine samples from other readily available CBD companies selling CBD vape pens and found dextromethorpha: the same ingredient found in cough medicine that, if consumed at high doses, can cause psychoactive effects and has been noted for abuse potential, especially in teens. Additionally, synthetic cannabinoids were also found in these samples.
How to Choose Your CBD
Since the production and sale of CBD is still a largely unregulated field, no industry standards have been agreed upon for safety testing, with the exception of proof of low THC content. Basic food and water safety testing can easily be applied to CBD products, and it is important for consumers to purchase products in an educated fashion, not only for the quality of the product they are buying, but for their safety as well. Key metrics to look for when choosing a CBD company is that they pursue independent testing of their products on a regular basis and at a minimum, test for common contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, and herbicides. These test results should be easily accessible to the consumer for evaluation.
Want to learn more about how to choose the right CBD product for you? Check out CBD Isolate vs. Full Spectrum: What’s Right for You.