A study published by Johns Hopkins Medicine on July 20 found that in a review of many CBD products, many contained an inaccurate amount of THC. Titled “Cannabinoid content and label accuracy of hemp-derived topical products available online and in national retail stores,” the study analyzed 105 topical CBD products, including lotions, creams, and patches. , collected from “online and physical outlets”. in Baltimore, Maryland between July and August 2020 (but the analysis only took place from March to June 2022). For storefronts, this included grocery stores, pharmacies, cosmetics and beauty stores, and health and wellness stores.
The study’s senior author, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Tory Spindle, Ph.D., explained the purpose of this analysis. “Misleading labels can lead people to use poorly regulated and expensive CBD products instead of FDA-approved products that are established as safe and effective for a given health condition,” Spindle said.
The results revealed that 18% of the products contained 10% less CBD than what was advertised on the label. Additionally, 58% contained 10% more CBD than advertised, while only 24% contained an accurate amount of CBD.
Thirty-five percent of these products contained THC, although the amount per product did not exceed 0.3% THC, which is the legal limit for hemp. Eleven percent of these products were labeled as “THC-free”, while 14% said they contained less than 0.3% THC, and 51% did not mention THC at all on the labels.
Spindle said the presence of THC in alleged CBD-only products could potentially put some people at risk. “Recent research has shown that people who use CBD products containing even small amounts of THC could potentially test positive for cannabis using a conventional drug test,” Spindle said.
Some of the medical claims made by these products were also inaccurate, and none of them are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Twenty-eight percent made claims about pain or inflammation, 14% made claims about cosmetics or beauty, and 47% specifically said they weren’t FDA-approved, while the remaining 53% did not mention the FDA at all.
The study’s lead author, Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., who is also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained that this stark difference in results requires more of research. “The variability in chemical content and labeling found in our study underscores the need for better regulatory oversight of CBD products to ensure consumer safety,” Vandrey said.
This study is the latest to discuss the inaccuracy of cannabis products. The University of Kentucky also recently analyzed CBD oil products earlier this month, finding that out of 80 CBD oil products, only 43 contained CBD percentages below 10% of the claimed content. The University of Colorado at Boulder, in partnership with Leafly, also found cannabis labels to be inaccurate.
Johns Hopkins University has continuously been involved in efforts to support the study of cannabis over the past few years. In September 2019, Johns Hopkins University launched the Center for Psychedelics and Consciousness Research with the goal of expanding research on psychedelics to create new treatments for specific psychiatric and behavioral disorders. In October 2020, he partnered with Realm of Caring and Bloom Medicinals to work on cannabis therapy research. In October 2021, the university published a study which showed that cannabis successfully treated anxiety and depression. Earlier this year, in February, he asked for volunteers to participate in a paid research initiative on cannabis and alcohol (which could raise up to $2,660 for the completion of a study for an individual ).