Last week the FDA sent out warning letters to four different CBD extract companies. The agency’s beef was that companies shouldn’t “illegally [sell] products” and claim that they “cure cancer without evidence to support these outcomes.” That seems reasonable enough, and those companies do seem more than a little shady for telling people that their cancer will be cured by taking untested, unregulated substances.
However, on the other hand, but, you might take the opinion that the FDA, and the federal government in general, are complicit in creating a regulation vacuum where cannabis producers are sort of less to their own devices to figure out how to sell their products, or even what to put in them. On the federal level, marijuana is just illegal. It’s barely tested and it’s not regulated.
That’s why some researchers from institutions such as the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University have decided to fill this void with a little bit of knowledge about just what is inside those CBD extracts sold online. They published their findings Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It turns out only one third of the products they tested had the same amount of CBD that was advertised on their label. The research group bought 84 different concentrates online, tested them, and looked at how they matched up to the contents they advertised.
They found that, of their samples, only 31 percent contained the same amount of CBD advertised on the label. 26 percent of samples contained less CBD than advertised and 43 percent contained more.
Having more CBD than you paid for doesn’t necessarily sound like a problem, but keep in mind that this is medicine. Precise, consistent dosage is pretty important when undergoing treatment.
A larger issue is that many of these extracts also contained THC, though they’re billed as explicitly non-psychotropic drugs. More than 20 percent of the extracts tested positive for THC. That is sucky for both patients and producers.
Patients could find themselves not only getting faded on accident, but also (more suckily) testing positive for THC on accident, which could threaten their livelihoods. Producers don’t stand to gain much from it either, as they can all get a bad name from one in five apples turning out to be bad.
One of the researchers behind this study point that there’s a pretty obvious solution to this problem, though it’s easier said than done.
"If the FDA regulated this industry, we would be way better off," Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, told CNN. "They're good at regulating things. When you go and buy a prescription at a pharmacy, you know what you're getting. ... [It's the] same thing for food. When you get a pack of Doritos or a Hershey bar, you know what it is."
That’s all they’re asking for. The same oversight the government gives Doritos to be given to medicine people take to treat serious, life-threatening issues.