The lack of transparency, trustworthiness, and reliability has been an overarching problem of the CBD industry that hurts both its reputation and the one of CBD itself as a therapeutic compound. The issue stems from the lack of oversight of products’ quality and labels’ accuracy. Somewhat ironically, the FDA is only concerned with CBD products that make any kind of health claims, and not products that make blatantly false claims about their actual CBD content.
The answer that reputable companies have come up with is third-party testing, meaning a test from a third-party laboratory that acts like an impartial judge. This solution is completely voluntary.
To shine a light on this issue, Leafreport, a watchdog for the CBD industry, teamed up with Canalysis Laboratories, a third-party cannabis testing laboratory, based in Las Vegas, “to determine whether select CBD drinks contained as much CBD as the labeling claimed.” The test involved 22 CBD beverages from 20 “well-known” brands.
This is actually the second partnership between the two. The first one was a general test of all types of CBD products, which exposed a fair amount of label inaccuracies, but not nearly as much as the amount that was discovered when the magnifying glass was focused on the CBD beverages niche in particular.
Like with their first test, Leafreport used a four-rating system: A (excellent); B (decent); C (Poor); and F (Fail), which is based on experts’ standards that deem a +/- 10% variance allowable for cannabis products, meaning that if a product’s actual CBD levels are within 90-110% of its advertised CBD levels, it would qualify for an A rating. Respectively, B-level products had a 20% variance; C-level 30%; and F-level products’ CBD levels differ by over 30% with the ones, stated on their label.
A mere 18%, 4 products, received an A; 14%, 3 products, got a B; 9%, 2 products, got a C; and a staggering 59%, 13 products, got an F, with 3 products containing more CBD than what was stated, 8 products containing less, and 2 products containing no CBD whatsoever.
On the one hand, Leafreport acknowledges the fact that “CBD beverages are difficult to formulate and contain relatively small amounts of CBD, which means that variations of even a few milligrams (mg) can have a big effect,” which is likely a partial culprit of this substantial increase in the inaccuracy rate in CBD beverages compared to CBD products as a whole. But even with that in mind, the findings don’t inspire trust in the dedication to quality and overall trustworthiness of the “well-known” companies in this niche, especially when 2 products – nearly 10% – contained no CBD at all, which is a clear sign of blatant fraud.
Leafreport does add the disclaimer that “test results may vary and our findings should not be seen as conclusive, complete, error-free, or at all times methodologically or scientifically accurate.” Still, they underline the long way that CBD beverages and the CBD industry as a whole have to go. On the bright side, Leafreport’s efforts are a step in the right direction.