Analysis: Labels Often Inaccurate for Hemp-Derived CBD Topical Products

Baltimore, MD: A significant percentage of hemp-derived CBD topical products contain percentages of CBD and THC that differ significantly from what is listed on their packaging, according to data published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

A team of researchers affiliated with John Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration assessed the purity of 105 commercially available hemp-derived CBD topical products.

Of the 89 products that provided information regarding the percentage of CBD available in them, only 24 percent provided accurate data. Thirty-five percent of topical products also tested positive for trace quantities of THC – including 11 percent of products that were explicitly labeled as “THC free.” (Over half of the products tested made no mention of THC on the product label.)

The findings are consistent with dozens of prior studies similarly reporting that commercially available CBD products seldom provide accurate information on their packaging.

Authors concluded, “This case series found that topical cannabinoid products purchased online and at popular retail stores were often inaccurately labeled for CBD content and many contained the psychoactive cannabis constituent THC. Moreover, some products made therapeutic claims for indications not approved by the FDA. These findings highlight the need for proper regulatory oversight of cannabis and hemp products to ensure these products meet established standards for quality assurance and so that consumers are not misled by unproven therapeutic or cosmetic claims.”

More than three years following the passage of federal legislation legalizing hemp production, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to promulgate rules regulating the marketing and sale of commercial products containing hemp-derived CBD or other cannabinoids. Survey data compiled by the National Consumers League previously determined that more than eight in ten US voters desire greater federal regulatory oversight over the labeling and marketing of commercially available CBD products.

Full text of the study, “Cannabinoid content and label accuracy of hemp-derived topical products available online and at national retail stores,” appears in JAMA Network Open.