5 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In these uncertain times, many people are turning to cannabis to help ease their fears and anxiety in the midst of the COVID-19 health crisis. CBD has become a valuable resource for managing stress, dealing with anxiety, and sleeping better. As CBD continues to see more mainstream success and acceptance as a health aid, its availability has also increased. You can probably find products marketed as CBD derivatives in any local health food store, gas station, or local dispensary.
But while research shows that CBD can have a positive impact on reducing feelings of anxiousness when used over longer periods of time, it’s also important to note that not all CBD products are created equal.
Putting CBD to the test
For a closer look at the quality and potency of CBD products from various retail providers, CBD Awareness Project purchased 15 different products (including oils and edibles) from 15 different brands and had them tested in a lab for potency. The study compared the lab results for CBD potency to each product’s label to determine how accurate the advertising was across vendors and product types.
Not only did they discover that some retail locations (including gas stations) consistently sold CBD products drastically misrepresenting their potency, some products were revealed to have no CBD at all.
With three major sales locations in question – grocery stores, specialized CBD locations, and gas stations – only one was revealed to have consistently reliable CBD products: grocery stores.
Some surprising findings
While you might expect CBD shops or dispensaries to have the most accurate levels of CBD in their offerings, products tested from these locations had, on average, 83 percent of the CBD advertised. Even worse, products tested in a lab from gas stations delivered just 40 percent of the CBD purported.
In contrast, CBD products purchased from grocery stores and tested in a lab for potency were found to have more CBD than marketed on their labels, averaging 136 percent.
While some products had more CBD than advertised, and some products had less, the lab results revealed that several products being marketed as CBD had no actual traces of CBD at all. More than half – 3 in 5 – CBD products purchased at gas stations were found to have no CBD, and the remaining products had less CBD than alleged. Not one CBD product purchased at a gas station had an accurate or fully honest label attached to it.
At CBD stores, 80 percent of products had less CBD than advertised, while the other 20 percent of products had more CBD than their labels indicated. At grocery stores, while 20% of products had less CBD than advertised, another 20 percent were accurate, and 60 percent had more CBD than conveyed.
Not only where but what
Where you buy your CBD isn’t the only factor to consider when looking for quality. In some cases, the type of product you buy can also be a red flag.
Overwhelmingly, and across all retailers, 75 percent of beverages marketed as being CBD-infused were found to have no traces of CBD, according to the lab results. Another 75 percent of edibles also had less CBD than advertised. Topicals and skin products were the most likely to be accurate: 40 percent tested as advertised, and another 40 percent contained more CBD than the label suggested.
While a more expensive price tag doesn’t exclusively indicate a better quality product, it can signal a certain level of potency. Half of the products sold for $5 or less had no traces of CBD, and the other half had less CBD than their label indicated.
Compared to products priced at $20 or more, where 20 percent were accurately labeled and 40 percent had more CBD than advertised, half of the products priced between $10–$15 had less CBD than advertised on the packaging. Despite being marketed with 212 milligrams of CBD, on average, products priced at over $20 were found to have 283 milligrams of CBD. Items purchased for less than $5 averaged 14 milligrams of CBD.
What about online hemp oil?
You can’t buy CBD on Amazon, but you can buy hemp oil. CBD Awareness Project purchased five different hemp oil products, and lab results indicated one of those products had 968 milligrams of CBD.
Hemp oil is very different from true CBD, and while a majority of buyers believed they were purchasing CBD products from the Amazon listings (and the pricing was similar), just 1 in 5 products tested positive for CBD.
Whenever you’re shopping, it’s important to remember that the cannabis market is still largely unregulated, and that includes CBD products. A majority of products purchased from gas stations had no CBD at all, and CBD-infused beverages (from any location) were also most likely to be misrepresented.
Before you fork over cash for your next CBD purchase, a little research on the brand or the retailer can go a long way to make sure you’re getting what you pay for.