Cannabidiol, a major component of marijuana, is in high demand these days for its purported health benefits. But a study published on Tuesday discovered that people trying to treat themselves with cannabidiol products likely aren’t getting what they’re paying for.
The study, led by the University of Pennsylvania, tested 84 cannabidiol products purchased online from 31 companies and found that less than a third were properly labeled. Nearly 43 percent of the products — which included oils, tinctures, and vaporization liquid — contained less cannabidiol than their labels promised, indicating that they weren’t potent enough to give their users the medicinal treatment they sought. Another 26 percent of the products contained more.
There’s no evidence that taking too much cannabidiol is dangerous, and you can’t get high off cannabidiol alone. (Scientists are also split over cannabidiols’ medicinal use, though some studies indicate it can help with chronic pain.) But THC was also found in about 21 percent of the products in the study. That may be an even bigger issue for unsuspecting users, since the researchers note that “the THC content observed may be sufficient to produce intoxication or impairment, especially among children.”
The federal government classifies cannabidiol as a Schedule I drug, just like marijuana. Twenty-nine states permit people to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, and eight allow recreational marijuana use. Researchers blame the labeling issues on these discrepancies and the ensuing lack of regulation.
“As there is currently no systematic oversight of this industry from the FDA, it means that it is up to the consumer to test their products to assure that they know what is in their medicine,” Marcel Bonn-Miller, an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine who led the study, told Tonic.
Inaccurate labeling in the marijuana industry, however, isn’t just a problem when it comes to cannabidiol. A VICE News investigation in June found that, thanks to a lack of testing and strict standards between states, the THC content on some marijuana products is also mislabeled.