New Study Points to Risks from Mislabeled Unregulated Cannabidiol Products

New Study Points to Risks from Mislabeled Unregulated Cannabidiol Products

Buyer beware. almost 75 percent of CBD marijuana extracts sold online are mislabeled, with numerous products containing little to none of the active ingredient, according to a study helmed by a University of Pennsylvania researcher. Beyond the discrepancy between the amount of CBD listed on the labels and the actual quantities in the supplements, they also found that 18 out of the 84 products contained THC, cannabis' psychoactive component, although that ingredient was omitted from labels.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine authored by Marcel Bonn-Miller, PhD and co-authored by RTI International's Brian F. Thomas, Ph.D., and others, published this week in JAMA, found labeling inaccuracies in almost 70 percent of CBD products obtained online. Studies have found, for example, that cannabidiol may help reduce seizures in children with certain types of epilepsy, and that it may help treat anxiety disorders.

For a month, Bonn-Miller and his team of researchers conducted internet searches to identify and purchase CBD products available for online retail purchase that included CBD content on the packaging. Researcher Marcel Bonn-Miller, of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, worked with colleagues from the Veterans Affairs San Diego Health Care System, nonprofit research organization RTI International, marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. While interest in this area continues to grow, little has been done to ensure regulation and oversight of the sale of products containing CBD. Of the 84 products tested, only 26 or slightly less than 31 percent were accurately labeled. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate derivatives of the plant, including CBD extracts.

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"Selling these oils without oversight, there is no way to know what is actually in the bottle", said Dr. Bonn-Miller. One drug company, GW Pharmaceuticals, is now pursuing FDA approval on a CBD-based treatment for children with a rare form of epilepsy - but beyond that, the industry remains unregulated, and Bonn-Miller warns consumers should be wary of what they're purchasing online. He hopes this and future studies will call attention to the impact of inconsistent cannabis product labelling.

Dr. Bonn-Miller's study report, "Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online", was published this week in JAMA. The team concluded there was a need for manufacturing and testing standards if CBD products are going to be used for medicinal purposes.

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