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Potentially Dangerous Substances Found in CBD Products

Potentially Dangerous Substances Found in CBD Products

Over the last year, everyone has probably seen the ads on television touting the beneficial effects of products containing CBD, which is derived from hemp plants of the Cannabis family, the same family of plants that produce marijuana. In today’s post, the medical marijuana lawyer at The Doan Law Firm discusses the disturbing results of a soon to be published study that found several dangerous substances that were found as contaminants in several random samples of commercially-available CBD products.

The Farm Bill of 2018 legalized, at the federal level, hemp and hemp-derived products that contain less than 0.3% THC (the chemical compound that causes the “high” associated with marijuana use). Since that time there has been an explosion of products containing CBD, a non-psychoactive compound also produced from the hemp plant that has been shown to have health benefits in certain medical conditions. Although the Farm Bill gave the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration overlapping regulatory control over hemp production and products derived from hemp, enforcement of federal regulations has been less than effective, as a recent study dramatically illustrates.

An article reported on in the online trade journal Analytic Cannabis Digest reports that a random sampling of 21 readily available commercial CBD products revealed several disturbing findings.

  • Two products were labeled as being “FDA Approved.” This is deliberately misleading to consumers since the FDA has never approved a non-prescription (“over the counter”) CBD product.

  • 11 of the 21 products appeared to have been “affected by some form of misrepresentation, contamination or possible adulteration.” Among the contaminants found in the samples tested were:

    • Erucamide, a recognized contaminant in some drug manufacturing processes, was the most commonly found contaminant in the analyzed samples.

    • Two samples contained polyethylene glycols, chemicals that have been implicated in respiratory disease due to “ vaping.”

    • Melatonin, an over-the-counter sleep medication/supplement, was found in two samples.

    • One sample may have contained fentanyl, a Schedule II opioid with a high potential for abuse.

According to our medical marijuana lawyer, none of the above-mentioned contaminants are used in the process of extracting CBD from hemp and thus they should not be present in the tested CBD products. It is even more disturbing that none of the product labels mentioned the presence of these substances and thus could deceive consumers into believing that they were purchasing a “pure” product. This could be interpreted as a deliberate violation of FDA regulations regarding product labeling. Given that the detected contaminants are not used to extract CBD from hemp, we must question how and why they ended up in CBD products.

The “how” part of the question is the easiest to answer: Since none of the contaminants are used in the extraction of CBD from hemp, they must have been deliberately added to the product by the manufacturer before it was made available for sale to the public. The “why” is more difficult to answer.

One possible explanation is that the contaminants were added in the process of diluting the THC content of the original product to insure that it was below the federally-mandated 0.3% limit. The polyethylene glycols were probably added to facilitate “vaping” of the product. Melatonin could have been added to enhance the sedative and sleep-inducing properties of CBD. However, there is no valid reason that fentanyl, in any amount, should be present in any CBD product!

The news that contamination of “federally-legal” CBD products is troubling because it immediately raises questions regarding injuries that may have been suffered by those who purchased what they had been led to believe was a “pure” product. According to our medical marijuana injury lawyer, if a purchaser or potential purchaser of a CBD product suffers an injury after using a contaminated CBD product, the presence of contamination could be seen as evidence of negligent or deliberate misconduct by both the manufacturer and/or seller of the product and could lead to liability in a personal injury lawsuit.

At The Doan Law Firm, our staff will continue to monitor the medical and trade literature for future developments in this area and will post updates as they become available.

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