Majority of CBD products tested in study found to have at least some THC

By Hank Schultz contact

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - David Trood
©Getty Images - David Trood

Related tags: Cbd, CBD and Hemp, cbd beverages, Cannabis, hemp extracts, THC, Fda, Dietary supplement, Dietary supplements

A new study that sampled dozens of commercially available CBD products found detectable THC levels in 64% of them. Some levels were high enough to approach therapeutic thresholds or to potentially trigger drug test failures.

The new research was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.​ It was done by a team from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.

The researchers purchased 80 CBD products commonly available in Kentucky.  As the 81st product tested, they also included the FDA approved CBD drug Epidolex as a ‘regulated control.’

Most products had at least some THC

The products tested included products labeled as ‘full spectrum,’ ‘broad spectrum,’ and ‘CBD isolate.’ The researchers found detectable levels of THC in 51 of the 80 off the shelf products.  In addition, Epidolex tested as having a very low THC level (0.022 mg/ml).

The THC levels ranged from .008 mg/ml up to 2.071 mg/ml.  Not surprisingly, the products labeled as full spectrum extracts notched the highest levels, while the CBD isolate products filled the low end of the scale. 

In addition, the researchers found that of the 21 products that made a ‘THC free’ claim, five had detectable levels of delta-9 THC. One of those had a THC level of 0.656 mg/ml.  If such a product were used at the recommended rate of 1 ml dosage three doses a day, a consumer might ingest more than 1.8 mg of THC in a day.  While there is no across the board accepted standard of THC dosage, this level could start to have unintended consequences, especially for children, the authors said.

Hidden THC levels put consumers at risk

The lack of information about THC concentrations on the labels puts consumers at risk, the authors said.  Very few manufacturers of CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC are willing to even mention that fact on the label.

“These data clearly demonstrate that with the lack of transparent and accurate label information stating a specific amount of delta 9-THC in the product by volume, consumers have no choice but to suspect the presence of delta 9-THC in hemp-derived CBD products,” ​the researchers noted.

“Consumers are taking hemp-derived CBD products without understanding the risks of unintentional consumption of delta 9-THC. This accidental use of delta 9-THC could have adverse effects on health and safety as well as potential legal consequences (e.g., child custody, impaired driving), as delta 9-THC drug test findings could impact employment, military, and sport eligibility status,”​ they concluded.

Attorney: Pressure building for regulatory solution

Jonathan Miller, general counsel of the US Hemp Roundtable, said this latest research (which mirrors the findings of several other studies done in the past five years) increases the urgency for coming up with an overarching regulatory solution for the sector.  At the moment, all CBD products exist in an extra-legal regulatory limbo.  Whatever GMP compliance procedures brands have put in place is a purely voluntary move on their part, and FDA is not inspecting the facilities where these products are made.

“This report continues to demonstrate the critical need for FDA to regulate hemp-derived products containing CBD. Without a regulatory framework ensuring CBD products are deemed safe, properly tested and labeled, and prepared utilizing Good Manufacturing Practices, consumers remain at risk of ingesting unknown amounts of THC or other potentially harmful ingredients,”  ​Miller said.

“While FDA delays action, claiming the agency is in a ‘stalemate position,’ Congress has the opportunity to take matters into its hands by passing legislation to establish a regulatory pathway for CBD as a dietary supplement or food and beverage additive. There are three legislative vehicles — H.R. 841, H.R 6134, and S. 1698 — that would finally enable the FDA to regulate CBD and other hemp derived derivatives,” ​he added.

Source:Drug and Alcohol Dependence
DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109522
Cannabidiol (CBD) product contamination: Quantitative analysis of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) concentrations found in commercially available CBD products
Authors: Johnson E, Kilgore M, Babalonis S

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