Americans Love Their CBD, But It’s a Totally Unregulated Market

One in seven Americans say they use CBD products, according to Gallup.

The rising popularity of these products — which range from oils and gummies to topical salves and most everything in between— is staggering, especially when one considers that much of the public had never even heard of CBD two or three years ago.

CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of over 100 distinct compounds found in the marijuana plant. Unlike THC, it is not significantly mood-altering. Instead, many consumers believe the compound helps treat pain, anxiousness, and other ailments.

But Americans’ exuberance for CBD could well be short-lived. That’s because many products currently marketed under the CBD banner are of low or variable quality.

Back in 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that only 31 percent of commercially available CBD products contained percentages of cannabidiol that accurately reflected the products’ labeling. Since then, little has changed.

An October 2019 analysis of 30 leading CBD products by the watchdog group LegitScript.com reported that two-thirds possessed significant deviations in CBD content from what was advertised. Typically, these products contained far lower percentages of CBD than the manufacturer promised — a finding that is woefully consistent with prior analyses.

Investigators also reported that some of the products evaluated in the LegitScript analysis tested positive for either solvent residue or elevated levels of heavy metals — findings that are also similar to those of prior reports.

Other analyses have identified even more problematic issues. Some CBD products, for instance, have tested positive for the presence of THC, the primary psychoactive constituent in cannabis, despite being advertised as “THC-free” — an oversight that could cost customers their jobs if they fail a drug test they expected to pass.

Most concerning, some CBD products have tested positive for added psychotropic adulterants — such as dextromethorphan or synthetic cannabinoid agonists. Exposure to these latter agents, typically found in illicit so-called “synthetic marijuana” products like Spice, can lead to serious health consequences.

All this is rapidly creating a “buyer beware” environment for consumers — and potentially placing them at risk.

This situation persists because the federal government — and the Food and Drug Administration in particular — doesn’t regulate either the manufacturing or testing of these products. Despite the presumption of most Americans, the commercial CBD market is entirely unregulated by the FDA.

This is because, until recently, federal law defined all cannabis-derived products as illicit. Now, the FDA and other agencies are playing catch up, with the federal regulators estimating it could take years before the FDA finalizes rules governing the commercial CBD market.

This intransigence is no longer acceptable.

Currently, the heavy burden of overseeing the CBD marketplace falls solely on state regulators in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis use. But these regulations are not consistent from state to state, and are often far from comprehensive.

Further, state-specific regulations typically only govern CBD products that are sold in licensed dispensaries or retail outlets that exclusively sell cannabis products. They may not cover products sold online or at gas stations, which are subject to virtually no oversight.

Congress facilitated the growth of the commercial CBD market by passing legislation in 2018 that, for the first time, recognizes the production and distribution of certain hemp-derived CBD products. But without federal rules, standards, and oversight, this new market is a wild west — rife with questionable players hawking low-quality or even fraudulent products upon a largely unsuspecting public.

The tens of millions of Americans soliciting this market deserve better. It’s time for federal officials to set appropriate standards to govern this industry — so consumers can be assured, once and for all, they are getting what they pay for.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
Vijay Prashad
The U.S. and UK are a Wrecking Ball Crew Against the Pillars of Internationalism
Melvin Goodman
The Washington Post and Its Cold War Drums
Richard C. Gross
Trump: Reopen Schools (or Else)
Chris Krupp
Public Lands Under Widespread Attack During Pandemic 
Alda Facio
What Coronavirus Teaches Us About Inequality, Discrimination and the Importance of Caring
Eve Ottenberg
Bounty Tales
Andrew Levine
Silver Linings Ahead?
John Kendall Hawkins
FrankenBob: The Self-Made Dylan
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Deutsche Bank Fined $150 Million for Enabling Jeffrey Epstein; Where’s the Fine Against JPMorgan Chase?
David Rosen
Inequality and the End of the American Dream
Louis Proyect
Harper’s and the Great Cancel Culture Panic
Thom Hartmann
How Billionaires Get Away With Their Big Con
Your 19th COVID Breakdown
Danny Sjursen
Undercover Patriots: Trump, Tulsa, and the Rise of Military Dissent
Charles McKelvey
The Limitations of the New Antiracist Movement
Binoy Kampmark
Netanyahu’s Annexation Drive
Joseph G. Ramsey
An Empire in Points
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
COVID-19 Denialism is Rooted in the Settler Colonial Mindset
Ramzy Baroud
On Israel’s Bizarre Definitions: The West Bank is Already Annexed
Judith Deutsch
Handling Emergency: A Tale of Two Males
Michael Welton
Getting Back to Socialist Principles: Honneth’s Recipe
Dean Baker
Combating the Political Power of the Rich: Wealth Taxes and Seattle Election Vouchers
Jonah Raskin
Edward Sanders: Poetic Pacifist Up Next
Manuel García, Jr.
Carbon Dioxide Uptake by Vegetation After Emissions Shutoff “Now”
Heidi Peltier
The Camo Economy: How Military Contracting Hides Human Costs and Increases Inequality
Ron Jacobs
Strike!, Fifty Years and Counting
Ellen Taylor
The Dark Side of Science: Shooting Barred Owls as Scapegoats for the Ravages of Big Timber
Sarah Anderson
Shrink Wall Street to Guarantee Good Jobs
Graham Peebles
Prison: Therapeutic Centers Or Academies of Crime?
Zhivko Illeieff
Can We Escape Our Addiction to Social Media?
Clark T. Scott
The Democrat’s Normal Keeps Their (Supposed) Enemies Closer and Closer
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
In 2020 Elections: Will Real-Life “Fighting Dems” Prove Irresistible?
David Swanson
Mommy, Where Do Peace Activists Come From?
Christopher Brauchli
Trump the Orator
Gary Leupp
Columbus and the Beginning of the American Way of Life: A Message to Indoctrinate Our Children
John Stanton
Donald J. Trump, Stone Cold Racist
Nicky Reid
The Stonewall Blues (Still Dreaming of a Queer Nation)
Stephen Cooper
A Kingston Reasoning with Legendary Guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith (The Interview: Part 2)
Hugh Iglarsh
COVID-19’s Coming to Town