CBD Supplements False Labeling Class Action Lawsuit

Over the past few years, there has been an influx of cannabidiol-based products (cannabidiol is also referred to as CBD) into the market, both for use as nutritional supplements and homeopathic medicines. The health benefits of CBD are well-documented, which makes the increase in these products’ popularity completely understandable. However, CBD products are not fully regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means that manufacturers can produce and market their products without adhering to guidelines, leading to consumers not actually getting the benefits that are being marketed to them.

There are manufacturers who make their CBD products to a high standard. But, there are also several who are marketing products that have virtually no benefits at all due to containing a sub-optimal level of the active ingredient. Consumers who have purchased such products may be eligible to join ongoing class-action lawsuits against these manufacturers. To find out if you are one, read on.

CBD Oil Class Action
What is CBD oil

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD oil is a cannabis extract, known to make up around 40% of the substances that can be taken from the plant. This makes it the second most prevalent of the active ingredients found in cannabis, after tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Like THC, it has a variety of medicinal benefits. But, unlike THC, it has no intoxicating properties and does not cause the “high” that comes from cannabis use.

Another major difference between CBD and THC is that the former can be found in hemp plants. Hemp is a relative of cannabis, and contains either no THC at all or then only in trace amounts. This, obviously, makes it extremely useful as a medicinal plant and food supplement, because there is no possibility of it being used as a recreational drug. Most of the CBD that is used in commercially available supplements are in fact extracted from hemp and not from cannabis.

What Is the Difference Between CBD Oil and Hemp Oil

There is considerable confusion between CBD oil and hemp oil. Although they both come from the same plant, the differences involve not only the exact source, but also the chemical make-up of the two products. Hemp oil is sourced only from hemp seeds, while CBD oil is extracted from the entire plant, including the stems, leaves, and flowers. While hemp oil is obtained simply by cold pressing the seeds, CBD oil is extracted through one of several complex processes, most often ethanol or CO2 extraction.

Hemp oil contains no CBD or any other cannabinoid at all. Therefore, no product made only with hemp oil can truthfully be purported to contain CBD. Consumers need to be aware in this regard, especially since several manufacturers have marketed their CBD products as hemp oil, mostly to avoid problems with the FDA as a result of CBD’s uncertain legal status. The opposite is also true, with some manufacturers marketing hemp oil products as CBD-based supplements; an outright lie for which far too many consumers have fallen.

Hemp Farming Field
Benefits of CBD oil

What Are the Benefits of CBD Oil

CBD oil has been found to be extremely effective in the management of pain, anxiety, cancer-related symptoms, skin blemishes, neurological disorders, diabetes, and cardiac problems. It may also have antipsychotic effects, as well as being effective in the treatment of substance addiction. These have made it very popular for use in food supplements and many users have reported experiencing one or more of the reported benefits.

Is CBD Oil legal?

This is a question that seems to have no completely uncontroversial answer at the moment. The legal status of CBD is in constant flux with both federal and state lawmakers regularly making subtle and often contradictory changes to their positions.

The gray area arises from the problematic legal status of cannabis as a whole. Since cannabis is still illegal by federal law and in most states, any products extracted from it are also of questionable legal status.

Hemp is entirely legal, however, making its products acceptable across all states. It is difficult to regulate CBD products though, because it is difficult to establish its source. The legal solution is to make the question a matter of THC content. High THC content indicates that the product is extracted from cannabis, while no THC or trace levels of the substance, points to hemp. In 2018, Congress passed the Agriculture Improvement Act, which legalized CBD that is extracted from hemp (as opposed to cannabis) and has a THC content of no more than 0.3%.

The Farm Bill complicates matters, however. This piece of legislation stipulates that hemp farmers must be licensed and grow their plants in accordance with federal guidelines. This means that unlicensed growers who are using their own methods are still producing illegal products, even if the products in question contain less than the legal amount of THC.

And, it gets even more muddy when we consider that the FDA considers CBD to be a drug ingredient. This is because it is used in prescription medications such as Epidiolex. As such, all CBD products are subject to FDA drug approval processes. The FDA still has not decided on any clear resolution on how to deal with CBD-based supplements, which are currently entering the market in large numbers. While these products are technically not legal without FDA approval, the agency has relaxed its enforcement measures considering the many legal and legislative uncertainties.

State laws make the matter even more difficult to understand. Many states are still updating their laws in this regard and are, therefore, not always in line with federal actions. In those states that have legalized cannabis (Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Michigan, as well as the District of Columbia) the legal status of hemp and its products is fairly unambiguous. In Colorado, for example, the entire hemp plant is cleared for use in food and supplements. In states where cannabis remains illegal, hemp tends to be treated with caution and state authorities are reluctant to grant it legal status. In Texas, for example, in contrast with the federal guidelines regarding THC content, no product containing any amount of the ingredient is legal.

With all of these ambiguities and uncertainties, the best way to establish the legality of CBD products is to consider each one on its own merits. The following should be investigated by consumers and retailers when purchasing CBD products:

  • Origin:
    Hemp grown in the U.S. is preferable to imported varieties, since the latter are not subject to the federal regulations stipulated in the Farm Bill.
  • Certificate of Analysis:
    This document contains the results of an analysis of the product carried out by an independent laboratory.
  • Testing Methods:
    The lab testing the product should work in accordance with ISO 17025 standards.
  • Potency:
    The certificate of analysis must state the amount of CBD contained in the product, both in total and by dose.

Products that don’t have this information may or may not be legal, but should be avoided just in case.

is CBD Oil legal
CBD Oil Testing
CBD Oil Tested and Regulated

Are CBD Oil Products Regulated and Tested?

As noted above, there are tests in place for CBD products. But, they are not strictly enforced at the moment. And, therefore, several products make it to market without tests and certificates of analysis or any kind of federal or state approval. Untested products may not necessarily be illegal – they may contain all the required amounts of CBD, THC, and other substances – but without having gone through any regulatory measures and having any proof that they have been made according to regulatory standards, there are no guarantees. It is best to stick to products that do have certificates of analysis granted by independent laboratories.

What has been found in CBD Supplements?

In both the United States and Europe, several CBD products have undergone testing after consumer complaints and regulatory inquiries. A number of these displayed various irregularities in their content which made them illegal in some cases and, in others, simply incapable of delivering their promised benefits.

Illegally high levels of THC are among the most common problems. This often correlates to a low level of CBD. Of course, the lower the level of CBD, the less likely the product is to provide the consumer with any benefits. In tests conducted in the United Kingdom, only 38% of the products tested contained the amount of CBD advertised. Another 38% contained less than half the amount indicated on the label. Some products have also been found to contain higher levels of solvents than they should. These solvents include ethanol, dichloromethane, and cyclohexane.

From the legal perspective, high levels of THC are perhaps the greatest concern, while consumers should be more worried about whether or not the products they buy – which are often not cheap – actually contain the CBD they need.

What has been found in CBD Supplements
CBD Products

 CBD Label and Warning Requirements

Many of the above-mentioned problems can be avoided with proper labeling. Because of the legal gray areas outlined above, there are no labeling standards that comply fully with regulations across all 50 states. Labels, thus, have to be compiled in accordance with the state in which the manufacture and sale take place. Many states permit the sale of CBD in foods and supplements, as long as specific labeling and warning requirements are met.

For instance, Utah requires all CBD products to be registered with the state’s Department of Agriculture and Food. Part of this process is the printing of compliant labels. Colorado, which has legalized cannabis, also has strict labeling guidelines. New York only permits the sale of CBD in supplements, not in foods and beverages. And, furthermore, manufacturers are required to sign an agreement, which acknowledges that the state’s position on the ingredient is contrary to the FDA’s.

Gradually, all states are likely to rework and amend their legislation regarding hemp products, and their regulations and labeling requirements will be updated as well. In the meantime, it is all too easy for manufacturers to bypass legalities. There are several manufacturers marketing their CBD products that have virtually no benefits at all due to containing a sub-optimal level of the active ingredient. They are able to take advantage of the low levels of enforcement and, in so doing, market products that simply do not do what they are supposed to do. Buyers need to beware! But, there is also a sufficient legal basis for consumers to be protected and demand compensation when they are sold products on the basis of false promises.

CBD Supplements
False Labeling Class-Action Lawsuit

Shamis and Gentile, P.A., is currently assessing cases in which individuals who have purchased CBD-based products with false information, can demand compensation. Contact us with your case details to see if you qualify to join this class-action lawsuit.

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