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Note that the Farm Bill, now in Congress, may make it easier for farmers to grow hemp and expand the number of states where it is grown and tested.
Products made with hemp grown overseas can be even more problematic, because they are not subject to any state or federal testing, say both Lanier and Boyar. So for CBD products from hemp, check labels to see whether they say where it was grown, and look especially for those from Colorado. Not all products, however, include that information. So in a dispensary or a retail store, ask the staff whether they know where the hemp was grown.
And for products purchased online, check the companies' website to see whether it has that information, or contact the seller to ask the same question. That document shows how a product performed on tests checking for CBD and THC levels, and the presence of contaminants. So any COA for those final products comes from testing the company arranged on its own.
Though not all manufacturers take that step, many do, Lanier says. One state, Indiana, has made it easier for consumers to find these COAs.
That suggests the lab adheres to high scientific standards. Also look to see whether a company uses testing methods validated by one of three respected national standard-setting organizations: Unlike hemp-derived CBD products, those made from marijuana must undergo testing—at least in states that permit medical and recreational use of marijuana.
In some of those states, dispensary staff are supposed to have the COAs available and be willing to share them with you. In states that have only legalized the medical, not recreational, use of marijuana, testing is less consistent, Boyar says. Look for products that show how much CBD or cannabidiol, its full name you get not just in the whole bottle but in each dose, says Lee, from Project CBD.
Dosages, which are expressed in milligrams, or mgs, vary considerably depending on the form of the product, and experts often suggest starting with products that have relatively low doses. For example, with tinctures, consider a product that has just 10 mg per dose, says Mitch Earleywine, Ph.
Companies may take that labeling approach because they hope it will attract less scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration, Lee says. Depending on the type of CO2 extraction used, the technique might be able to extract not just CBD but other cannabinoids see number 5 in the plant, Boyar says.
And it may not be safer, either, because some forms of CO2 extraction still use solvents, Boyar says. That oil is often included in hemp-based soaps, cosmetics, and similar products. Making health claims, even just the ability to treat relatively minor problems like migraines, is legal only for prescription drugs, which undergo extensive testing for effectiveness and safety. And the more dramatic the claim, such as the ability to cure cancer or heart disease, the more skeptical you should be.
Since , the FDA has cracked down on dozens of companies selling CBD products online for making unallowed health claims. Vape pens produce little smoke and are easy to transport and use—plus they can easily go undetected. But the concentrated oils used in vape pens of CBD might contain a solvent called propylene glycol. When burned at high temperatures, propylene glycol can degrade into formaldehyde, a chemical that can irritate the nose and eyes and could increase the risk of asthma and cancer.
As a dorky kid, I spent many a Saturday at the Bloomington, Ind. Now, as a much bigger kid, that's still my job! Identifying products and services, especially in healthcare, that are safe, effective, and affordable—and highlighting those that aren't—is my top concern.
Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed. How to Shop for CBD. Sharing is Nice Yes, send me a copy of this email. Send We respect your privacy. Oops, we messed up. How to Use CBD: Avoid Products That Make Sweeping Health Claims Making health claims, even just the ability to treat relatively minor problems like migraines, is legal only for prescription drugs, which undergo extensive testing for effectiveness and safety.
Watch Out for Vaping Products With Propylene Glycol Vape pens produce little smoke and are easy to transport and use—plus they can easily go undetected. Consumer Reports is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to helping consumers. But it may also be false hope. When he and 15 other experts prepared their report, examining more than 10, studies in the process, they found only three conditions for which the evidence in humans, not lab animals or other forms of preliminary research, was strong: The epilepsy studies were published after the NAS report.
For CBD itself, the evidence is even sparser. Abrams says the NAS report could identify only three small published randomized trials—the gold standard for medical research—that looked at just CBD. And in fact, some restrictions have recently been lifted. That may be particularly concerning for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Still, the research to date has identified few risks.
Side effects include tiredness, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and weight. So if you do want to try CBD, talk with your doctor first, especially if you take any prescription drugs or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
And until more evidence comes in, be wary of turning to CBD in lieu of more proven therapies, especially for serious health problems like cancer. Every other state, plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D. For details, see our map. From a federal perspective, things are less straightforward, depending on whether the CBD comes from hemp or marijuana. If the source is marijuana, the feds clearly consider it illegal. It classifies anything from the plant, including both THC and CBD, as Schedule I substances, meaning that the agency says they have no known medical use and are addictive—just like ecstasy, heroin, and LSD.
Melvin Patterson, spokesman for the U. Instead, the agency may just reclassify Epidiolex, not all CBD. The agency has 90 days to decide. Or possibly if it comes not from the flower but the stem. As in the past, the plant must have THC levels of 0. But even if the law does go into effect, it could take time, and possibly lawsuits, to settle the question.
But they also say that from a federal perspective, online CBD retailers could be at some legal risk, for several reasons. To start with, shipping CBD across state lines could violate federal law. For another, those products could violate other government rules, particularly from the FDA.
For example, products that claim to treat or cure any disease, ranging from migraine to cancer, run afoul of FDA rules saying that such statement can only be made for approved drugs. In other words, Epidiolex can make those claims, but other CBD products cannot. And CBD products could still be in violation even if they only make more general claims about health, such as the ability to reduce inflammation or improve immune function.
Since , FDA has in fact cracked down on dozens of online CBD retailers, even threatening to seize products, for precisely those reasons. The nine states that have legalized both the recreational and medical use of cannabis do require testing of products before they can be sold. Some states with only medical cannabis laws also require some testing.
But among those states, standards vary substantially, with some regulating cannabis products, including CBD-only ones, as if they are pharmaceutical products and others as if they are agricultural ones, says Jennifer Liebreich, at the Association of Public Health Laboratories , which works with states and federal agencies on strengthening laboratory systems and testing programs, including those for cannabis. Reiman says there may be reasons to be particularly cautious about products ordered online.
She notes that there may be less oversight of those products than there is of store-bought ones, making their purity and potency less certain. Research backs her up.
Eighteen of them had THC levels possibly high enough to result in intoxication or impairment, especially among children. And a quarter had less CBD than advertised.
For example, look for companies located in states that have legalized the recreational and medical use of cannabis , since they tend to have stricter standards. Some companies that make CBD products say they also contract with third-party testers to do additional analysis, beyond the state requirements.
For 80 years, Consumer Reports has been testing products and working to create a fairer, safer, and healthier marketplace. Please call Member Services at Welcome to Consumer Reports. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.
The FDA has approved the first marijuana drug, and cannabidiol may get easier to buy. Is CBD legal and effective? Sharing is Nice Yes, send me a copy of this email.
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