At the end of May, hemp industry was struck with the news of more than 50 victims of fake CBD oils in Utah. The mixture of the unclear regulations, chaos on the market and dishonesty of “producers” jumping on the cannabis bandwagon took its grim toll. In other states that have not regulated the issue of access to non-medical hemp products, the situation is not much better, and counterfeiting CBD is becoming a scourge.
The unique state of Utah
The situation in Salt Lake City illustrates the legal around the hemp products that prevails in the U.S. – and its consequences. By the way, Polish consumers do not have to worry, as in Poland consumers have access to safe and legal CBD dietary supplements, such as CannabiGold products.
But how about in States? In Utah, CBD oil is legal – but this only applies to medical products available to patients with epilepsy. Interestingly, Utah is the single state that legalized only medical CBD but not medical marijuana in any form (which is currently legal in 30 states and in D.C), although there is an ongoing campaign to legalize medical Cannabis as well. It would seem that this is a reasonable solution – after all, the safest, and an absolutely non-psychoactive CBD-based product has been legalized, effectively separating it from medical marijuana. The problem is that although in Utah the CBD oils were officially only available to patients, in practice they could be found on the shelves of health food stores, where no one controlled them, as if the state legislation had not foreseen the popularity of cannabis dietary supplements. As a consequence, all who wanted to take advantage of beneficial properties of hemp were exposed to suspicious products from dishonest producers.
What can be found in fake oils
At the end of the last year, the situation in Utah began to become somewhat absurd. On the one hand, CBD oils have obtained kind of a blessing from state authorities as the only form of hemp products allowed by law. Add to this the positive media climate around hemp in general and it was no wonder that the inhabitants of the state wanted to reach for the CBD also for general health purposes. On the other hand, state law did not allow the sale of dietary supplements from hemp – but this prohibition was not strictly enforced, which created an unregulated grey zone of shady products that often had nothing to do with natural cannabinoids. In May the federal research centre CDC (Center for Disease Control) published a report according to which only between October and January more than half a hundred people in Utah fell victims of acute poisoning with substances sold as CBD!
Suspicious products, which often did not contain a drop of CBD, tempted consumers with colourful packaging referring to cannabinoids and names like “YOLO CBD Oil” (an actual name!). As the analysis showed, many of the preparations that sent several dozen people to the hospital contained synthetic cannabinoids – specifically 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA (4-CCB) – known for being an ingredient of the infamous Spice drug, which until today is taking its toll among those looking for a replacement for marijuana. Lack of control of the CBD market in the past has notoriously led to situations in which the content of cannabidiol was mislabeled, but in Utah, the situation got out of control and hemp enthusiasts were sickened with dangerous narcotic substance.
How can we make sure we buy a safe product?
In a sense, it can be said that pro-health hemp products such as CBD cannabis have fallen prey to their own success. Whenever natural products originating from the plant world are being faked, it is a sure sign that they are high-quality goods and desired by consumers – hence, for example, the branch of Italian police dedicated to pursuing counterfeiters of … olive oil. The popularity of hemp products and their improving popular perception (in the US this is certainly related to the progress of the marijuana legalization movement) is not necessarily accompanied by legislative progress. As a result, there are and will be situations such as in Utah, when consumers interested in health-enhancing CBD potential were served poison by cynical scammers. Once again, it turns out that sensible regulation of the market – also when it comes to dietary supplements – is a much better solution than an outright ban.
Although it may seem strange, amateurs of hemp products in Poland are in a much better position than residents of many parts of the U.S. Hemp products made of CBD, such as CBD hemp oils, are legal in Poland and they are subject to the same control as any other dietary supplements. As the example of Utah shows, it is the market for health-promoting dietary supplements that can be associated with the greatest risks as strictly medical products from cannabis are getting precisely regulated, and those who have to reach for it usually do it under the supervision of a doctor.
Needless to say, most of the shady products available in health food stores came from unknown producers and did their actual ingredients were not listed on the packaging. The Polish consumer is lucky that by reaching for a hemp-derived food supplement they can count on the fact that his producer meets the health inspector standards … at least in theory. In practice, the hemp market for a long time resembled the Wild West, fortunately, the situation is improving quickly. However, there are still dishonest manufacturers of hemp dietary supplements, and although they are unlikely to poison their clients with synthetic cannabinoids like 4-CCB, they can offer products with unsatisfying cannabinoid content or containing impurities. Therefore, the conscious consumer should pay special attention to three elements: the producer (large, proven producers usually offer a more reliable product), method of production (extraction method allowing to avoid contamination, presence of quality control procedures), and composition of the product (it is important to preserve the broadest possible profile of natural cannabinoids, including not just CBD). Only in this way can we make sure that we are dealing with a product of the highest quality.a