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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. “There needs to be testing results available to consumers,” Lanier says, “and manufacturers should follow the FDA’s guidance for good manufacturing practices.”

This is important mainly if you want to avoid the head-high that comes with THC, something that is important to many people who are considering CBD. But knowing the THC level can be important for other reasons, too, including how effective a product might be, as well as where you can buy it.

One is making sure that plants don’t absorb any of the potentially harmful chemicals that might be in the soil. The other is how much of the plant’s two key compounds they contain: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which gets users high, and CBD (cannabidiol), which is gaining increasing attention for its potential health benefits.

5. Look for Products That List the CBD Amount

Among those sources, Lanier considers Colorado to have the most robust hemp program. The state’s agricultural program performs spot-tests of hemp plants while they are still in the field to check THC levels and will investigate the potential use of any illegal pesticides based on complaints. (Note that the 2018 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.)

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. If they aren’t, or the COA is not available, go to another dispensary or choose another product.

CBD product labels sometimes say that they were produced with “CO2 extraction.” That can mean that the CBD and other ingredients were removed from the plant using high-pressure carbon dioxide gas, not chemical solvents. 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. However, that approach is not necessarily better, because it’s unclear whether those other compounds provide additional health benefits. And it may not be safer, either, because some forms of CO2 extraction still use solvents, Boyar says.

As head farmer at Veritas Farms in Pueblo, Colo., Rianna Meyer has two big concerns when growing her 100,000 hemp plants, a form of cannabis closely related to marijuana.

Until federal agencies determine final and enforceable regulations, the potential for mislabeled and poor-quality products is high. Knowing what to watch out for on a CBD oil label can improve the odds of finding a high-quality CBD oil and other related products.

Most commonly, CBD oil will refer to oil containing pure CBD and no other cannabis compounds. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

Cannabidiol (CBD) was still an illegal substance until the 2018 Farm Bill made industrial hemp, and therefore, hemp-derived CBD, legal for production across the country. Salons, spas, online retailers, health stores, and even major pharmacies are filling their shelves with an ever-growing variety of CBD-infused products.

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CBD oil labels should not make any medical claims. The FDA monitors and regulates claims of medical efficacy related to any unapproved substance. The agency has sent warning letters to several companies that sold CBD products with labels claiming the contents could prevent, treat, and cure serious diseases. Yet plenty of companies voluntarily follow FDA standards and prohibit unverified claims on their labels. Words such as “cure,” “prevent,” “reduce,” and “treat” can be red flags that a seller isn’t operating with integrity.

To meet federal legal criteria, CBD oil must contain no more than 0.3 percent THC. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

The information contained in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any illness. Please consult with your physician and discuss any prescription medications you are taking before using CBD products.

The CBD market is growing rapidly and doesn’t seem to show any sign of stopping. Unfortunately, until regulations for testing and labeling are in place, the CBD market is still “buyer beware” and there are no regulations in place for safety, purity, or optimal dosage.