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Fake CBD? Learn to Tell if Yours is Real

Posted by Jim Higdon on Sep 13th 2019

Fake CBD? Learn to Tell if Yours is Real

Fake CBD oil is a real problem in America today. 

Due to a lack of regulations from the Food and Drug Administration, it seems like there are two fake CBD oil products made by con artists for every genuine CBD company doing things the right way. Even though CBD is legal, an unregulated market is making life difficult for CBD consumers looking for quality products.

Why? Because scam retailers take advantage of a lack of consumer knowledge and the regulatory grey area caused by the FDA to peddle snake oil products to unsuspecting customers. This is your guide to help you know how to spot fake CBD.

Fake CBD in the News

Leaders in the CBD industry have been warning of fake CBD for years. In 2017, more than 50 people in Utah went to the hospital for consuming fake CBD made from synthetic cannabinoids. It happened again in North Carolina in 2018.

In 2020, some CBD companies are advertising that their CBD oil can prevent or cure the COVID-19 coronavirus. Do not believe these dangerous claims. If you see a CBD brand advertising itself as a COVID-19 defense or anti-viral agent, report them to the FDA.

Counterfeit CBD Oil

Fake CBD oil made from synthetic cannabinoids can be poisonous, and fraudulent medical claims that CBD oil can cure COVID-19 are just as dangerous. But even more frightening, counterfeiters are ripping off the packaging of a legitimate CBD product in order to fool unsuspecting consumers into buying fake CBD oil.

Cornbread Hemp knows this problem first-hand. An international crime ring targeted Cornbread Hemp for counterfeiting in 2019. We discovered it in August, when an eagle-eyed Englishman contacted us via email. He purchased a package of capsules bearing the Cornbread Hemp logo at a health food store in the UK. But it was fake; Cornbread Hemp doesn’t ship products to the UK.

When he got home, the man thought the capsules packaged looked “dodgy.” So he looked up the Cornbread Hemp website and realized that we don’t sell CBD capsules in that kind of packaging. Thankfully, he then reached out to us by email to tell us the news. We had been counterfeited!

Counterfeit CBD is even worse than regular fake CBD. A counterfeit job preys on the trust that a real CBD oil brand creates with its customers. The counterfeiter betrays that trust with fake CBD oil, possibly containing the sort of synthetic cannabinoids that send people the hospital.

What are CBD companies doing to protect their customers from counterfeit CBD? Well, according to our research, not enough.

Fake CBD Oil Warning Signs

We have compiled this list of warning signs to help consumers spot potentially fake CBD. This will help consumers understand the tricks that some companies play in their labeling and marketing tactics. If you spot any of these issues, beware of that product.

High Dosage Numbers

If a CBD label says the product contains “3,000 mg” or even 12,000 mg or 30,000 mg — absolutely outrageous amounts compared to reputable CBD brands that rarely exceed 2,000 mg per one-ounce bottle. Most honest CBD companies offer products that are 300 to 1,500 mg per bottle.

So, you need to look very carefully at the listing. That mg level might be the dosage of hemp seed oil, not CBD content.

Hemp Seed Oil

There’s nothing wrong with hempseed oil. It’s not poisonous like synthetic cannabinoids can be. But some companies misrepresent hemp seed oil as CBD in a classic switcheroo. Hemp seed oil products have the medicinal value of olive oil.

Hemp seed oil is healthy for you, but not medicinal. It is simply the oil of pressed hemp seeds. By contrast, CBD comes only from the seedless female flower of the hemp plant, or the “bud.” Hemp seed oil doesn’t contain any CBD, and won’t be of any assistance in helping you achieve higher levels of wellness.

Fake Full Spectrum

Another thing to watch for is CBD brands that advertise themselves as “full spectrum” and “THC free” at the same time. This is simply contradictory. The accurate definition of “full spectrum” is CBD that contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids, including THC. Therefore, it’s impossible for CBD to be “full spectrum” and “THC free.”

Another variation of this is “broad spectrum,” which means CBD extract distilled until the THC is undetectable, which means above 80% purity. At Cornbread Hemp, we think “broad spectrum” is less effective than “full spectrum.” But at least a brand that describes its hemp oil as “broad spectrum” is being honest, unlike a brand that calls itself “full spectrum” and “THC free.”

Clear Oil or Clear Bottle

In CBD, clear is not a good color. No CBD oil should appear perfectly clear. That’s a warning sign. Additionally, any CBD brand that puts its extract in a clear bottle should not be trusted. CBD is light sensitive and can break down when exposed to ultraviolet light.

Therefore, any brand that puts its extract in a clear bottle is more concerned with surface details like package design than the effectiveness of their product. Avoid clear CBD oils or CBD oils bottled in clear glass.

Extravagant Medical Claims

Don’t trust any CBD brand that claims it can cure major diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson;s, epilepsy, or COVID-19. Any brand willing to make these sorts of outlandish claims do not deserve to be trusted.

Fake CBD on Amazon

Another easy short-hand tip to remember is this: don’t buy CBD on Amazon. Amazon is filled with scam retailers selling fake CBD. Here’s why:

Amazon does not allow anything labeled “CBD” on its marketplace. But, Amazon does allow hemp products. To take advantage of the Amazon ban on CBD, untrustworthy companies create fake hemp extract products that play within these Amazon rules.

Inflated dosage numbers, hemp seed oil, fake full spectrum, and clear products all fake CBD tactics that can be found on products for sale on Amazon. When looking for trustworthy CBD products, avoid Amazon.

Another dangerous form of fake CBD is cannabis extract with higher levels of THC than allowed by law. These are essentially cannabis sativa products intended for marijuana use, not for the wellness benefits of CBD.

How to Tell Good CBD from Fake CBD

Now that you have increased your CBD consumer knowledge, you can identify fake CBD oil. So here is the next steps to identifying quality, trustworthy CBD oil companies. If a CBD brand is worthy of your business, it will conduct itself in the following ways:

American Sourced Hemp

As much as 70 percent of the CBD sold in America today comes from hemp grown in China. This is a problem because hemp plants are amazing bio-accumulators, which means it soaks up the chemicals in the soil at a remarkable rate. China does not have strong environmental policies or farm regulations that would prevent this sort of contamination.

That’s why redevelopers use hemp for brownfield remediation. This is why Ukraine used hemp to try to clean the soil around Chernobyl. Other CBD brands source their hemp extract from Europe. Europe is a better source for hemp extract than China, but it does nothing to support American hemp farmers.

Third-Party Lab Tests

All reputable CBD cannabidiol companies conduct rigorous third-party lab tests. Many CBD oil compaines only test for cannabinoid potency to ensure compliance to federal limits on THC content. That simple test neglects your safety by not testing for potential contamination with third party verification.

Whether someone is taking hemp extract products for wellness needs or a health issue, it’s critical that the hemp oil product remain free of contamination.

A lab test report, or certificate of analysis (CoA) for any CBD brand should show results for cannabinoids potency, as well as safety tests for pesticides, heavy metals, residual solvents, bacteria, mold, and fungus.

Make sure your CBD brand conducts third-party testing of their hemp products. These lab test results should be easy to find on any company’s website that sells hemp oil products. They should also have an article walking you through how to read a CBD certificate of analysis.

Cornbread Hemp always tests every product with Kaycha Labs to ensure quality, legality, and safety. But is third-party lab testing good enough to stop fake CBD? Not any more.

QR Codes Are a Must

The next step is the QR code. A QR code is the new UPC-type square code that your smartphone can read. With an iPhone, you don’t even need a special app. Just point your camera at the QR code, and it will automatically load a webpage linked to that code.

In the case of CBD oil companies, this allows consumers to check lab reports of of CBD products, simply by scanning the QR code with their smartphone. QR codes are easy to produce. CBD oil companies that don’t offer QR codes might be trying to hide something. Some CBD companies only test for THC potency to assure compliance to federal law. They don’t test for heavy metals, solvents, pesticides or other contaminants.

Even if you’re not in the habit of reading a QR code with your smart phone’s camera, QR codes should give you peace of mind. CBD oil with a QR code is more trustworthy than ones without.

Anti-counterfeiting Holograms

At Cornbread Hemp, we take safety and security one step further. It’s not enough to provide lab reports and QR codes. To protect our customers against counterfeiters, we use authenticity tags from CannVerify.

CannVerify offers a multi-step process to ensure a product is not counterfeit. Holograms look great, but they themselves can also be counterfeited. That’s why CannVerify developed this system.

That may sound complicated, but it’s a small price to pay to keep our consumers safe from counterfeiters trying to sell fake CBD products under our good name.

USDA Certified Organic

The unfortunate truth is that despite the fact that there are many good CBD brands out there trying to do the right thing, there’s many more fake CBD brands just trying to rip people off.

The only sure-fire way to know for sure that your CBD product is free of contamination is by looking for the USDA certified organic seal. The USDA organic seal guarantees that every product bearing it is free of any contamination that could cause health problems.

How to Spot Genuine CBD

Quality CBD products come from full spectrum hemp extract from cannabis plants. Smart consumers can identify fake CBD products by avoiding products that claim inflated dosage numbers; are made with hemp seed oil instead of CBD; that falsely claim themselves to be “full spectrum” and “THC free” at the same time; that make extravagant medical claims; that comes in a glass bottle; or that are sold on Amazon.

To make sure you get genuine full spectrum hemp extract CBD products, look for CBD with third-party lab tests; QR codes; anti-counterfeiting holograms; and the USDA certified organic seal. Which brands meet all this criteria? Only one: Cornbread Hemp. And now you know how to spot fake CBD. And more importantly, you know how to spot genuine CBD, too.

(These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.)