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CBD Products Mislabaled

Two-Thirds of All CBD Products Are Labeled Incorrectly, According to New Study

More than half of the internet-sold CBD products have more or less CBD than is listed on the label, according to a study from JAMA, and Johns-Hopkins researcher Marcel Bonn-Miller.

The team purchased and analyzed 84 products from 31 different companies. Tests showed that products which contained more CBD than listed on the label outnumbered products that had less CBD on the label by about 2 to 1. The study found that for extracted oils, the amount of CBD was more than the amount listed on the label 43% of the time, and test results another 26% showed them to have less CBD than claimed on the label. About a third of products were accurately labeled.

For CBD liquids produced for vaping, the label was incorrect 90% of the time, and labels were wrong about 50% of the time for extracted oils.

Penn Medicine researcher and adjunct assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD, was the lead author on the study. He believes the mislabeling of cannabidiol products is a direct result of inadequate regulation and oversight.

"The big problem, with this being something that is not federally legal, is that the needed quality assurance oversight from the Food and Drug Administration is not available. There are currently no standards for producing, testing, or labeling these oils," Bonn-Miller said. "So, right now, if you buy a Hershey bar, you know it has been checked over; you know how many calories are in it, you know it has chocolate as an ingredient, you know how much chocolate is in there. Selling these oils without oversight, there is no way to know what is actually in the bottle. It's crazy to have less oversight and information about a product being widely used for medicinal purposes, especially in very ill children, than a Hershey bar."

While there are no studies showing CBD to be harmful in high doses, products containing too little CBD may not have the desired therapeutic effect, while too much CBD will give an inaccurate picture of effectiveness from product to product.

According to Bonn-Miller, a number of products also contained a significant amount of THC, which has been shown to cause cognitive impairment and other adverse health effects. "This is a medication that is often used for children with epilepsy, so parents could be giving their child THC without even knowing it," he said.

In a previous study, Bonn-Miller and colleagues analyzed cannabinoid dose and label accuracy in edible medical cannabis products and found similar discrepancies. He hopes this and future studies will call attention to the impact of inconsistent cannabis product labelling. "Future research should be focused on making sure people are paying attention to this issue and encouraging regulation in this rapidly expanding industry."