You only have to look at the vast hemp fields of the rural Rogue Valley to know that America has a love affair with CBD and its health-enhancing properties — but all relationships soon run into trust issues, right?
With CBD, it’s knowing you can trust the amount promised on the label. After all, it’s a new industry, medical research is sparse, and there are few regulators enforcing labeling laws. So CBD users are forced to try many brands and judge by results — learning what works for them.
“The industry is unregulated, and that’s why the FDA is starting to step in,” says Alex Bizeau of Victory Banner Farms in Talent. “They’ve issued a lot of warnings. Some producers are guilty and some are not. It may not have been intentional, but when it says 250 mg and it has no CBD, it’s intentional.”
Customers need to become more knowledgeable and ask for a COA (certificate of analysis), he says. “Look for a proven track record that’s open to public review. The problem is it’s far cheaper to fill a bottle with olive oil and very little CBD. You’re not going to get penalized because no one knows.”
Tammy Sona, owner of SONA CBD in Talent, is a watchdog on ingredients, noting that, as a rule, customers should shop local, not online. The Rogue Valley is one of the cannabis hotspots of the world, offering excellent soil, near perfect growing conditions, knowledgeable growers and the most educated budtenders, so “look for a trusted producer in your area that sources oil directly from their farm,” she says. “They will be more intimate with farming practices, extraction methods and testing standards.”
Sona points to a valuable lab test of 47 CBD products, conducted by Leafly, the world’s biggest cannabis website — www.leafly.com/news/strains-products/cbd-oil-test-results?mc_cid=e554544705&mc_eid=b0b9d8ffc5. Amazingly, six of the products they tested had zero CBD, 11 had more than the advertised amount, and about half came within 20 percent.
Dan Lohr of EcoTest in Medford, which analyzes CBD content, says many products are made with hemp seed oil, which contains no CBD.
“There’s lots of fraud in this business,” says Lohr. “People are just not educated on the difference between hemp oil and CBD. Anything hemp online can’t be trusted. … If you’re buying CBD, it must say derived from flower and have a lab analysis to show the percentage. If it doesn’t mention CBD by name, and says only hemp, you can assume it’s derived from hemp oil.”
The “biggest fraud” today, Lohr says, is they put hemp oil in two-ounce bottles with marijuana leaf pictures on it, and charge $55, but you can get a liter of just plain hemp oil, with no CBD hype, for $27.
To be extra sure of what you’re buying, Sona advises asking for evidence of the final potency, as packaged, not after harvest or extraction, and backed up by batch and lot numbers.
The batch and lot numbers for all her products are posted on her website, she says, and she stands ready to educate customers on how to explore and use the data.
A further caveat from Sona: Don’t purchase CBD that is hyped with health claims, she notes, as these are banned by the FDA. Educate yourself at the nonprofit www.projectcbd.org, so you know what questions to ask and how to protect yourself.
Another wrinkle in the story is that people are so fixated on CBD, they seek the “isolate,” that is, the highest purity, leaving behind all the cannabinoids, fatty acids, amino acids, terpenes, which provide a “full spectrum” of essential plant properties, Sona says.
“There are over 100 different molecules in it, and they all work together to give maximum benefit. We need full spectrum,” she adds.
“To get the good stuff,” says Lohr, “talk to someone who has been selling for a while. We have the best stores in the world here, and you can trust the word of the budtenders. Ask them which items get the best feedback and repeat business over time. You might have to try different strains because of the various terpenes in it. And, absolutely, CBD is more effective with THC. You have to experiment and find your dose.”