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Addressing Inconsistent Label Claims in the Hemp and Cannabis Industry

This article is sponsored by PlusCBD Oil, a product line from CV Sciences (formerly CannaVest). CV Sciences is one of the leading suppliers and manufacturers of agricultural hemp-derived CBD bulk and finished products.

In February 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warning letters to six CBD manufacturers and resellers. In these letters were test results of products purveyed by these companies, all showing that their cannabidiol content was significantly less than advertised or did not exist at all [1]. The following year the FDA performed a similar investigation, citing an additional eight companies for making false product claims [2]. Such bad actors in the hemp industry are not the only companies involved in misleading business practices.

CV Sciences asked our trusted independent laboratory, SC Labs, to weigh in on this issue.

Studies Reveal Discrepancies in Advertised Cannabinoid Content


In the medical cannabis industry, there are also major discrepancies between the labeled dosage and actual cannabinoid content in many products infused with cannabis. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June 2015 highlighted this practice and showed that over half of infused cannabis products purchased from three different metropolitan cities contained a lower cannabinoid content than what was on the label.

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This wasn’t the only problem the study illuminated. A smaller fraction of these products actually contained a substantially higher amount of cannabinoids than advertised, which could increase the likelihood of a patient experiencing adverse effects [3]. Ingesting high doses of THC has been shown to induce states of anxiety and panic in inexperienced users because the metabolism of Δ9-THC by the liver leads to its conversion to 11-hydroxy-Δ9-THC. This metabolite is estimated to be three to seven times more potent than THC, making accurate dosing in the case of naïve users all the more crucial [4].

The trends for smoked products aren’t much better. A study released this month in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology showed similar results in e-cigarettes infused with medical cannabis, and found that the average product tested contained 42.6% THC and 0.5% CBD compared to the advertised 69% THC and 1% CBD [5].

Dealing with Systematic Testing Inaccuracies

Lab experiment

These issues currently facing the industry are being dealt with through lab testing using methods like high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and gas chromatography (GC). However, there too are many growing pains in this sector of the industry at present. Among them is a lack of standardization in testing methodology amongst labs in states without mandated testing, which contributes to significant variations in results. Also, while GC analysis can provide some information about cannabinoid content, it does not provide dependable data about the acidic cannabinoids because it involves the use of heat. This use of heat causes the acidic cannabinoids to convert to their neutral counterparts, which in turn gives an inaccurate measurement.

Cannabis Testing: The Importance of Independent Third-Party Analyses of Cannabis Products

Ensuring your products have been tested with a lab that uses accepted methodologies is crucial to optimizing your intake and finding the right dose for you. Without accurate labeling backed by lab testing, it’s inevitable that we will see more cases of fraudulent practices and adverse effects.

It is precisely because of such uncertainty that CV Sciences ensures that every product is thoroughly tested at every stage of the process, utilizing potency, microbiologic, residual solvent, pesticide, and heavy metal analyses. By ensuring every batch meets our rigorous specifications, we remain unmatched in our commitment to setting the standard for the CBD industry.

Science Revisited: Will Using CBD Hemp Oil Lead to a Positive Drug Test for THC?


FDA 2015 Warning Letters and Test Results http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm435591.htm
FDA 2016 Warning Letters and Test Results http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm484109.htm
Vandrey R, Raber JC, Raber ME, Douglass B, Miller C, Bonn-miller MO. Cannabinoid Dose and Label Accuracy in Edible Medical Cannabis Products. JAMA. 2015;313(24):2491-3.
Grotenhermen F. Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of cannabinoids. Clin Pharmacokinet. 2003;42(4):327-60.
Peace MR, Stone JW, Poklis JL, Turner JB, Poklis A. Analysis of a Commercial Marijuana e-Cigarette Formulation. J Anal Toxicol. 2016

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Leafly Staff

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.

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