Study flags CBD mislabeling in USA

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Only 26 of 84 CBD products reviewed in a recent study contained the amount of CBD listed on the label, according to research in the U.S. market by three industry stakeholders.

The study’s authors, who published their findings last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), said the results point to a need to improve quality control in the production of CBD products. “These findings highlight the need for manufacturing and testing standards, and oversight of medicinal cannabis products,” the authors stressed.

Veterans Affairs San Diego Health Care System, nonprofit research firm RTI International, Americans for Safe Access, and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine worked together on the study.

“Many of these patients may not be getting the proper dosage; they’re either not getting enough for it to be effective or they’re getting too much,” said Marcel Bonn-Miller, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, lead author of the article. CBD is used for conditions such as anxiety, inflammation, pain and epilepsy.

Unrelated to FDA warnings

The rather unflattering results for the CBD market comes just one week after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, in an unrelated action, sent warning letters to four U.S. CBD makers over product claims on their websites and packaging. The FDA has repeatedly warned CBD sellers over questionable claims around their products. Flagged last week by the FDA were CW Hemp, of Colorado Springs, Colo.; That’s Natural Marketing & Consulting, Pueblo, Colo.; Green Roads Health, Pembroke Pines, Fla.; and Natural Alchemist, El Dorado Hills, Calif.

For the study published in JAMA, researchers bought the 84 products from 31 online shops during September and October; they included oils, tinctures and vape liquids. Each product was analyzed three times for CBD content.

Over labeled, under labeled

Of the 84 products tested, the researchers found:

  • 26 products were accurately labeled
  • 36 products were under labeled (had more CBD than on label)
  • 22 products were over labeled (had less CBD than on label)
  • Vape liquids had the highest error rate, with only three of 24 product labels being accurate and 18 containing more CBD than amounts listed on their labels.
  • Oils were the most accurately labeled; 18 of 40 products tested were accurately labeled, while 12 were over labeled with respect to CBD content.
  • Some of the products contained other components of cannabis that were not listed on the label, including THC.

The authors noted that some patients may not be getting sufficient dosages but said they were not worried about overdosing or addiction based on CBD’s generally strong safety profile.

Euro study also was a black mark

About 15 products contained THC with concentrations as high as 6.43 milligrams per milliliter, an amount that could be enough to intoxicate a child and therefore poses a risk, the study noted.

In a separate, and different, study in Europe this past spring, only 9 of 29 European CBD oils proved “satisfactory” when tested for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) — classified as carcinogens. That research was by the International Cannabis & Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI).

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