Buyer be­ware: CBD prod­ucts may be this cen­tury’s snake oil

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL / NATION - By Cindy Krischer Good­man

Drive to Wyn­wood to in­dulge in CBD-in­fused cold brew that will take away your anx­i­ety. Head to the Plan­ta­tion farmer’s mar­ket and snap up CBD-in­fused honey to cure your trou­ble sleep­ing. Take a trip to a med spa in Boca Ra­ton and pick up a CBD-in­fused top­i­cal cream for your shoul­der pain.

South Florida has be­come flooded with CBD prod­ucts for sale, lur­ing buy­ers with prom­ises of pain re­lief and medic­i­nal aid. The buzz about CBD has been fueled by celebri­ties in­clud­ing Kristin Bell, Emma Roberts and Jen­nifer Anis­ton, who have said the CBD oils, salves and ton­ics re­lieve their sore mus­cles, soothe their aches, and al­le­vi­ate so­cial anx­i­ety.

Even with all the en­dorse­ments, though, con­sumers have no real knowl­edge of the va­lid­ity of the claims of CBD’s heal­ing pow­ers. Some labs re­port that dan­ger­ous and de­cep­tive in­gre­di­ents are show­ing up in CDB prod­ucts. The in­dus­try’s lack of reg­u­la­tion and trans­parency has opened the door for se­ri­ous con­cerns:

• Prod­uct la­bels are in­ac­cu­rate or mis­lead­ing.

• Prod­ucts con­tain other ad­di­tives that al­ter your mood.

• Met­als, pes­ti­cides, bac­te­ria and sol­vents from cannabis plants are sur­fac­ing in prod­ucts.

• Con­cen­tra­tions of CBD are lower than ad­ver­tised.

• Many prod­ucts for sale re­main untested.

Na­tion­ally and in Florida, there is no re­quire­ment yet that CBD prod­ucts con­tain the in­gre­di­ents man­u­fac­tur­ers say they do, or the heal­ing power sug­gested in their mar­ket­ing brochures. For now, the med­i­cal science isn’t there to defini­tively back up the touted health and ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fits of CBD prod­ucts.

CBD, short for cannabid­iol, is a chemical com­pound from the cannabis plant. It is used in prod­ucts like oils and ed­i­bles to pro­vide feel­ing of calm, but CBD is the non-psy­choac­tive por­tion of the plant and won’t give you a high.

Lack of re­search has sparked ques­tions such as “How much CBD is safe to con­sume in a day?” and “How might CBD in­ter­act with other drugs a per­son might be tak­ing?”

Re­nee Prof­fetta of Boca Ra­ton, a pro­po­nent and user of CBD prod­ucts, sees the risks. She says the CBD oils and vape help al­le­vi­ate her anx­i­ety and mood swings, im­prove sleep is­sues and al­low her to cut back on phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals. But con­sis­tency is her big con­cern. At times, when she has re­plen­ished her sup­ply, the prod­uct seemed dif­fer­ent, even from the same dis­pen­sary.

“You might not get the same ef­fect with ev­ery batch, but you know when some­thing isn’t right,” she said.

Should the feds step in?

On May 31, the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion held the first-of-its-kind hear­ing on CBD to de­ter­mine if or how to regulate the in­dus­try to en­sure prod­ucts are safe and health claims have data to back them up. The lineup of 110 speak­ers in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives of com­pa­nies with a lot of money at stake, as well as re­searchers, sci­en­tists and organizati­ons charged with pro­tect­ing pub­lic health.

With bil­lions at stake in how the FDA de­cides to regulate the com­pound, ex­actly how long the agency will need to fig­ure it out re­mains un­clear. The FDA will con­tinue to ac­cept pub­lic com­ments through July 2, 2019.

In the mean­time, buyer be­ware.

“Com­pa­nies aren’t fol­low­ing test­ing pro­to­col, and some are disin­gen­u­ous about what is in their prod­uct,” said Derek Thomas, vice pres­i­dent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment for Ver­i­tas Farms, a Fort Lauderdale com­pany that op­er­ates a 140acre hemp farm and pro­cess­ing fa­cil­i­ties in Colorado. “Some­times there is less cannabi­noid and some­times more. Some­times there are other ad­di­tives like Vi­a­gra, THC, or pain-killer com­pounds. This is one area where there needs to be tight reg­u­la­tions.”

Both hemp and mar­i­juana are sources for CBD-rich cannabis oils. Legally, Florid­i­ans need a med­i­cal mar­i­juana card to buy mar­i­juana CBD oils and prod­ucts. How­ever, be­cause hemp has less than 0.3% THC — the psy­choac­tive com­pound in mar­i­juana that gives the high sen­sa­tion — the state does not con­sider it mar­i­juana un­der Florida law and CBD prod­ucts with it are le­gal.

Le­gal, how­ever, does not mean reg­u­lated, stan­dard­ized, safe — or even ef­fec­tive.

Florida will need help too

In Florida, the in­dus­try is poised to be­come a boom­ing source of growth for the econ­omy. A bill ap­proved by the state Leg­is­la­ture re­cently gave Florida grow­ers the green light to cre­ate hemp pro­grams be­yond the uni­ver­sity re­search set­ting. More hemp grow­ing will lead to more CBD-in­fused well­ness prod­ucts. Florida, in turn, will need to get a reg­u­la­tory han­dle on the in­dus­try. That over­sight, and en­force­ment, could take a while, though.

With no reg­u­la­tion, some lab op­er­a­tors say they are find­ing odd in­gre­di­ents — and lots of in­con­sis­tency.

Chris Martinez, who op­er­ates Evio Labs, an in­dus­try-ac­cred­ited cannabis test­ing lab­o­ra­tory in Davie, has ob­served the ways in which com­pa­nies are tak­ing ad­van­tage of the ab­sence of reg­u­la­tions. His lab tests CBD prod­ucts for pes­ti­cides, bac­te­ria, metal, sol­vents and po­tency (the lev­els of cannabis). Martinez said not all labs have the same ma­chin­ery and the abil­ity to de­tect smaller lev­els of sub­stances.

“Some labs will run a test and show not an el­e­ment is not de­tected, but their in­stru­ment can’t go deep into the prod­uct and the con­sumer doesn’t know,” Martinez said.

Martinez said while test­ing prod­ucts he has seen re­sults that il­lus­trate how hap­haz­ard the in­dus­try is at this time. “We might test five bot­tles from a man­u­fac­turer and one has two and one has one, and one has none at all. There is no con­sis­tency in prod­ucts,” he said.

TAIMY AL­VAREZ/SUN SEN­TINEL

Green Roads CEO and co-founder Laura Baldwin Fuentes, Rph, works in the RND clean­room at Green Roads’ Davie, Fla., ware­house. Deer­field Beach, Fla.-based Green Roads makes more than 50 CBD prod­ucts and la­bels them with QR codes that redi­rect users to third-party lab re­sults. Man­u­fac­tur­ing cur­rently is in Davie.

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