CBD concerns: If the FDA doesn't regulate it, how do you stay safe?

May 14, 2019 11:38 PM

HENRIETTA, N.Y. (WHEC) -- Whether it's online or in a store, chances are you've seen something with CBD in it. In fact, an increasing number of people are turning to CBD to treat numerous conditions such as anxiety and chronic pain. 

It is a compound that comes from the cannabis plant, but the THC is extracted so users won't get high. However, the government doesn't regulate it, which means anyone can slap a label on anything and call it CBD. So, what do you need to know to stay safe? 


Army veteran Wayne Garrett, 71, is a CBD user. 

"My wife uses it. I use it. My daughter uses it," Garrett said. "For nerve pain, it really helps."

In Garrett's case, he uses a few drops of oil twice a day instead of pain killers.

"Most of the time drugs have side effects, CBD doesn't," Garrett said.

Mark Hellert has a similar experience with CBD. He uses a daily dose for him and his dog.

"It's almost a godsend," Hellert said. "He's a 13-year-old dog that has bad hips and can barely walk but I give it to him in the morning and evenings."

Experts predict CBD sales will increase from $327 million in 2017 to almost $22 billion by 2022.

At HempSol in Henrietta, the shelves are stocked with a variety of products and all of them contain CBD.

"We try to keep almost everything you could have in the CBD world on hand whether it's beef jerky or deodorant," said Jordan Blundell, operations manager. 

She says it can be tricky for consumers to find a legit source of CBD.  A study from The Journal of the American Medicine Association found more than two thirds of CBD products online were mislabeled. Some products contained less CBD than what was stated on the label, others contained more, and some had no CBD in it at all.

CBD is sold as a supplement and not a medication which means the FDA does not regulate its safety or purity. In New York City, regulators have cracked down on CBD, banning all food and drinks that claim to have the compound in it.

"Is it third-party lab tested? Is the hemp that is used grown in the U.S.? Make sure you know exactly what's in the product," Blundell said.

Blundell said consumers should be checking lab results to make sure they know what's in the product. At HempSol, most of the products have a QR code that links users back to third-party testing results. 

Anthony Smith from Evio Labs Inc. tests all types of CBD products for unsafe chemicals.There are no specific requirements for CBD products federally. Smith says many reputable manufacturers follow federal dietary supplement guidelines for cleanliness and safety. 

"A consumer can figure this out, most of it based on the label of the product that you are using," Smith said. "Manufactures of CBD products that are really trying to make a nationally available product, they're making them to the same standards."

But shouldn't consumers know exactly what they're getting?

If the label says 1,000 milligrams, should the government step in to make sure labels are accurate?

"I don't want the government to get both hands in there but CBD, as long as it is what it says on the bottle and it is what it says inside, that's the most important thing," Garrett said.

As CBD becomes more popular, the FDA has announced it will be holding a public hearing to discuss developing the framework to regulate cannabis-derived products.

The hearing is scheduled for May 31. 


Kaci Jones

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