Don’t Fall for Fake CBD
We put an emphasis on third-party product testing at Apotheca. It isn’t just a marketing gimmick—it’s an essential part of ensuring every product in our store is exactly what it claims to be. Every CBD and hemp product we carry has been third-party tested by independent laboratories to confirm that they are made with natural hemp extract and don’t contain any dangerous chemicals.
It’s a sad fact that as the CBD industry takes off, scams will pop up as well. Fake CBD oil won’t just hurt your wallet, though. It can also have some serious health consequences.
What We Mean by “Fake CBD”
This is a broad label that applies to many different things. First, there are products that are labeled as hemp extract, but are actually made from hemp seed oil—an oil that is perfectly safe to consume, with about the same calories per tablespoon as olive oil—plus a fair amount of fatty and amino acids. However, any product marketed as CBD oil is most likely being sold at a much higher price per ounce, and if you’re using CBD for a specific effect, you won’t be getting it from hemp seed oil.
Secondly, there are products that contain no traces of any hemp plants, let alone CBD. These can be a bit more unpredictable. Some of these scam products amount to snake oil, with no discernable effects or impact on your health. Others, however, contain synthetic cannabinoids, which can be extremely dangerous.
Beware of Synthetic Cannabinoids
52 people in Utah were poisoned last year by a product labeled as CBD oil that actually contained synthetic cannabinoids (you can read the original CDC report here, or a summary from Gizmodo here). While the product labeling said “CBD,” lab tests revealed it actually contained 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA (4-CCB). 4-CCB is a synthetic cannabinoid designed to have effects similar to THC, but has been shown to have cause unpredictable, severe side effects. The CDC says 4-CCB-related fatalities have been reported in Europe.
Thankfully, that recent batch of 4-CCB-laced products in Utah didn’t result in any deaths, but it did send 31 people to the ER with symptoms ranging from seizures to hallucinations.
How to Spot Fake CBD
Fake CBD can be challenging to spot, especially for a first-time customer. It isn’t immediately apparent due to color, smell, or taste if something is the real deal or not. The only way to tell for sure is by sending a sample to a trusted, independent laboratory for chemical testing. This isn’t really an option for the average consumer, though. For the average person, lab testing is extremely expensive, extremely inconvenient, and extremely time-consuming. Fortunately, most reputable manufacturers and stores (like Apotheca) supply third-party test results for every product they sell. There are a few general pointers that will help you avoid scams even if you don’t have lab results in front of you.
- Don’t buy CBD products from Amazon. Amazon is a little behind the times on CBD products and does not allow the sale of CBD products. This may come as a surprise if you search “CBD oil” on Amazon though, since you’ll get pages and pages of results. An investigation tested a number of products and found that they contain little to no CBD and rely on deceptive packaging, faked reviews, and misleading search tags to make a quick sale.
- Don’t buy CBD products with suspicious packaging.In the 4-CCB poisoning case, the product in question was labeled “YOLO CBD oil,” but had no manufacturer or ingredient information on the package. There are hundreds of CBD companies out there, and this isn’t to say that you should only trust the half dozen or so “name brand” products, of course. However, you should be wary of products that are missing vital details like ingredients or a manufacturer name. If you come across an unfamiliar product while out and about, it never hurts to run a quick internet search on your phone.
- Be wary of health claims.The US Food and Drug Administration has strict rules that prevent CBD product labeling and websites from making specific health-related claims. Most smart manufacturers and sellers don’t want to get shut down, so they abide by these rules and are very careful in their language. If you don’t see a disclaimer similar to the one found at the bottom of every page of our website, you have good reason to be skeptical. Scammers looking to make a quick buck off of fake products most likely won’t be up to date on the FDA’s labeling regulations. If you find a product making unusual claims—check it out. Many questionable products have been outed by message board users and bloggers around the internet, so you’ll get to the truth with a couple quick clicks.
Lab Testing Tells You More Than CBD Content
Lab testing helps verify a product is legitimate, but also shows the quality of growing practices. Hemp is a plant that absorbs chemicals from the soil it’s planted in, so improper growing techniques can result in a contaminated product.
In addition to cannabinoid content, many labs also test for microbial contaminants like STEC, salmonella, and yeast and mold, heavy metals like arsenic, and pesticides. While an “ND” or none detected result is certainly ideal, many of these compounds are allowed in consumer products in small quantities, depending on the state they’re grown and/or sold in. Companies that want to sell their products nationwide make the effort to grow or source hemp using safe practices, but this is another instance where educating yourself and deciding what you want to put in your body are essential in selecting a CBD tincture or hemp product.
Always Do Your Research
We always stress independent research and consumer engagement at Apotheca. Hemp products are a new industry in the United States and regulators are still figuring out how to handle the hemp business.
There are many, many self-regulating companies, driven by moral and ethical standards to provide a safe, honest product. They’re easy to find through Apotheca’s curated store. We don’t carry brands that we haven’t researched extensively, and we don’t carry brands that don’t third-party test all of their products. We’ve put in the time to make sure everything in our store is what it says it is.
However, that’s often not a satisfactory stopping point. If you value 100% organic growing practices, green businesses, or any other above-and-beyond process, we encourage you to keep digging. Companies driven by their values and exceptional practices tend to take great pride in them, so you’ll find additional information on their growing practices, sourcing, manufacturing facilities, and more on their websites.
We’ll continue to provide the best information and products available, but only you can decide which hemp product is right for your needs.
To browse our selection of third-party tested products, visit our store.