Fake CBD – How to Tell if CBD Oil is Real or Fake
In our last few articles we looked at several large CannaBiDioL (CBD) companies – Elixinol and Charlotte’s Web – which present investors with a couple of pure plays on the CBD theme and have the financials to prove it. While writing these pieces, we spent some time talking with industry experts and realized there’s a real problem out there when it comes to fake CBD oil being sold. Before we get into that, we’re going to talk about why fake CBD is so problematic.
The Effects of CBD
Throughout our time researching CBD, we’ve observed a few common themes. The first is that people will respond variably to CBD at differing doses. In other words, CBD affects everyone a bit differently. What CBD will not do is get you high. That’s the problem here. If you’ve ever bought fake weed, you know that the first time you tried to blaze up with it, the taste wasn’t there and there was no high. You knew immediately that what you bought was fake. The difference with CBD is that it does not make you high and you can’t actually feel the effects of it. Instead, people will say things like “I feel less anxiety” or “I’m able to sleep better at night” or “I feel less pain” which are all great benefits but also could result from other factors. One reason you could experience an improvement is because of something called “the placebo effect” which seems to be more powerful the more you spend. An $80 bottle of CBD oil better do something, otherwise you wasted your money. Nobody wants to feel like they wasted money.
Here is what it all comes down to. If you do take CBD, you want to be absolutely sure you’re taking the “real stuff.” As you can probably guess, not all CBD oil is created the same. It is, however, all pretty pricey stuff. Weed smokers know that smoking a 20-sack of Mexican brick weed isn’t worth the chronic cough and the fact you need to smoke half an eight for a head change. Pony up a bit more and get some Beasters for 35 a sack or just pay the 50 bones and get some of the stuff that killed Elvis. Same thing holds true for CBD products. People want to find the best brand and stick with it which is what the numbers tell us. The key takeaway here is that you can avoid the fakes by finding a legitimate brand that works for you and stick with it. If the best brand doesn’t give you any positive effects, then CBD isn’t for you and you can stop wasting money on it.
Testing for Fake CBD
There’s a way that anyone can find out if CBD oil is real or fake, but most don’t want to go through the hassle. The people that do want to get CBD products tested are the producers, at least responsible producers. Nobody wants to suddenly find out from a third-party source that their CBD oil has pesticides in it. That’s exactly what happened in January of last year when a website called Remedy Review tested 29 CBD brands and 4 failed with 1 product recall already issued. That was over a year ago, and there’s no point in dragging these brands through the muck. What we do want to know more about is how they tested these products. Like many of the producers do, they used an objective third-party testing laboratory.
We first learned about ProVerde while talking with Charlotte’s Web about the prevalence of fake CDB oils on Amazon. (In one case, a CBD oil on Amazon was tested and found to be olive oil. And probably bottom-shelf olive oil at that.) Founded in 2013, Massachusetts startup ProVerde Laboratories has taken in $2.8 million in funding to offer “analytical testing and consulting services in the marijuana and hemp segment.” They offer a sophisticated suite of testing services that’s accredited and used by some of the world’s leading cannabis firms to test their cannabis and hemp products for harmful contaminants such as mold, mildew, bacteria, heavy metals, and pesticides in an effort to ensure product sold or processed is safe to consume. The lab does not offer, sell, or broker CBD products so they can remain purely objective.
ProVerde is the lab used by Remedy Review to test various CBD brands, but one would expect the top brands are already doing this. According to Remedy Review, a firm like Elixinol will actually send in their own products along with other “duds” in order to keep themselves honest and make sure the quality check is working as expected. Anyone who wants to get a CBD product tested can avail themselves of this service, but most consumers would never go through the hassle. Also, a one-time test doesn’t cut it. Today’s brands that don’t have quality issues can easily become tomorrow’s brands that do have quality issues. That’s why you want to look for brands that emphasize quality as a competitive differentiator and go to great lengths to make sure their products are of the highest quality through constant and consistent testing. One entity that wants to provide some structure around the whole of this is the U.S. Hemp Authority.
How to Tell if CBD Oil is Real or Fake
Search for CBD Oil on Amazon and you’ll get over 1,000 results. It’s not a good idea to try and sift through these and find a winner. Instead of spending time and money trying to validate the legitimacy of the many CBD brands out there coming out of the woodwork, why not let someone else handle this? Turns out the U.S. Hemp Authority was put together for that purpose. While the name sounds legitimate, we don’t just assume they are. A look at their website shows their leadership team and their history which we’ll try and paraphrase here.
Founded in 2016, the U.S. Hemp Authority is a tax-exempt organization, legally independent of other hemp organizations and companies, and is not a governmental body or regulatory agency. The effort is presently being funded by the U.S. Hemp Roundtable – a coalition of dozens of hemp companies – that represent every link of the product chain, from seed to sale. They’ve developed a 43-page Guidance Plan which provides some set procedures for growers and producers to follow which the industry has collectively agreed upon. Those companies that adopt these guidelines are then considered to be “certified” and will then presumably adorn their product labels with a stamp of approval. The first Guidance Plan – Version 1.0 – has resulted in 13 companies receiving certification and they’re currently working on Guidance Plan 2.0.
It’s important to note that just because a company isn’t on this list, that doesn’t mean they’re not legitimate. One company not on the list is Elixinol, although their Regulatory Officer & Industry Liaison sits on the board of the U.S. Hemp Authority. We would assume that’s because this is a list of U.S. companies only. In addition to Charlotte’s Web (listed as CW Hemp above), there are 10 other companies above we haven’t covered yet. Stay tuned for our next CBD article in which we’ll take a closer look at each one.
In the cannabis world, the quality of a product begins speaking for itself immediately after you take that first green hit. In the world of CBD, you need to play around with dosages to see what works for you. If you have no problems sleeping, no pain, or no anxiety, then you need to be self-aware enough to gauge what – if anything – you stand to gain from using CBD products. Companies will work harder and harder to differentiate themselves. For example, Charlotte’s Web talks about how their CBD products contain a more complete spectrum of the 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis plants which – as we keep saying – will affect everyone differently based on everything from dosage size to brand of product. You can’t go wrong with Charlotte’s Web, but if you’re looking at using other brands, it wouldn’t hurt to make sure that they’re validated by the U.S. Hemp Authority or regularly subject their products to third-party quality tests to ensure a consistent level of quality.
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