Checking out the state-licensed, third-party lab test results is the single most important piece of due diligence you should do before you even consider buying any CBD product. Do not purchase a CBD product until you’ve seen the lab test results with your very own eyes. Ask the company selling the CBD product for the lab test results. If they can’t provide lab test results, don’t buy the product.
Before you dive into the nitty gritty of the lab test results, you’ll want to look up the lab at which the CBD product was tested. It’s better to have results from a lab that’s licensed by the state. In order to obtain and maintain a license, labs are inspected and audited for proper testing practices and standards of performance. Further information can be found on the department of health website for the state in which the lab is located.
Lab test results will provide the actual amounts of CBD and THC in the CBD product. The amounts of CBD and THC are provided as percentages and/or as milligrams per gram. With the help of some mathematical calculations, you’ll be able to compare the labeled CBD amount to the amount on the lab test results. Make sure the CBD oil has been tested for THC as well, to confirm that the level of THC does not exceed 0.3 percent. (The amount of THC may not be listed on the product label, as it’s not one of the active ingredients in CBD products.)
|When comparing the CBD product label to the lab results, be aware that 1g is approximately equal to 1mL.|
Bacteria and fungi that cause harm to humans aren’t all that common on cannabis plants, and the CBD extraction process generally kills off and inactivates most fungi and bacteria and the toxins that they make. However, it is possible that a hemp or marijuana plant could be contaminated and that the bad bugs could make their way into CBD product.
For people with healthy immune systems, the most worrisome of these are Salmonella and E. coli, but people with compromised immune systems should also be concerned about Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Aspergillus. (At-risk people include those who are undergoing chemotherapy, those who have HIV/AIDS, and those who are on immunosuppressants.) The best way to protect yourself against contaminated CBD product is to ask for the lab test results.
Make sure that the CBD product has been tested for Salmonella and E. coli, and additionally for Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Aspergillus for those who have a compromised immune system. The amounts of fungi and bacteria should not exceed established limits, which are generally stated on the lab test results as colony forming unit (CFU) per gram (CFU/g). The CBD product should pass the lab test for every type of microbe that’s screened.
|Microbial Analysis Results|
|E. coli||ND||< 1||Pass|
|Total Yeast & Mold||ND||< 10000||Pass|
|ND = not detected|
|Lab results should show that no fungi or bacteria were detected.|
Like any crop, marijuana and hemp plants are susceptible to pests, and some farmers use pesticides to control unwanted pests on plants. Continual exposure to low doses of pesticides can cause them to accumulate in your body, usually in your fatty tissues. Over time, this accumulation can increase the likelihood of certain medical problems, including cancer, neuropathy, asthma, allergies, and degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Pesticides are especially a concern with concentrates, which is what CBD products essentially are. Based on extensive research, the Cannabis Safety Institute found that the mean levels of pesticide residues found in cannabis concentrates is higher than that found in cannabis flowers. If you think about it, this makes sense. The processes that concentrate the cannabinoids also concentrate the pesticides. Because CBD products are made from a series of processes that concentrate the CBD, it’s also likely that any pesticides used to grow the hemp are also likely to be concentrated.
Rules and regulations related to the cannabis family of plants vary from state to state. While some states specify which pesticides to test for and how to test for them, other states remain silent about pesticide use on cannabis. According the Cannabis Safety Institute, even when rules and regulations for pesticide testing are in place, they may be based on inappropriate screening techniques or invalid protocols and may be arbitrary at best. Given that testing for pesticides on cannabis is in its infancy, states are continually having to visit and revisit their rules and regulations on pesticide testing.
At the end of the day, it’s possible you may be sold a CBD oil labeled “chemical-free,” “pesticide-free,” “organic,” or “all-natural,” when, in fact, that’s just not the case. The best way to ensure that your product is free of pesticides is to look at the lab results.
The Cannabis Safety Institute recommends testing for 123 target pesticides, which can be found on their website. When you look at the lab test results, check that the product has been tested for as many of the target pesticides listed by the Cannabis Safety Institute as possible, especially bifenazate and myclobutanil. The amounts of the pesticides should not exceed established limits, which are generally stated on the lab test results as either parts per million or parts per billion.
|Pesticide Screening Results|
|ND = not detected|
|The CBD product should pass the lab test for every pesticide that’s screened.|
As plants grow, they accumulate metals. These metals may occur naturally in the soil and water, or they may be artificially introduced through the use of fertilizers and pesticides or even industrialization and power generation. Plants in the cannabis family are known as hyperaccumulators because they have a strong affinity for accumulating heavy metals. This can be problematic, because heavy metals in high concentration are hazardous to human health. They’re not broken down easily and can accumulate in the body instead. They can cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, brain damage, and nerve damage.
Your CBD product should be tested for arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. The limits of detection vary based on the method used to detect the heavy metals. The limits of detection should be provided on the lab test results, and the CBD product should pass the lab test for each type of heavy metal.
|Heavy Metal Screening Results|
|Heavy Metal||Result (ppm)||Pass/Fail|
|ND = not detected|
|Lab results should show that no heavy metals were detected.|
In some cases, the extraction method used to make the CBD product might leave behind residual solvents. This is particularly a concern for CBD products made with hydrocarbons, because these pose potential health risks. If the CBD product you’re purchasing was made with hydrocarbon, get the lab test results. The amount of residual solvent should not exceed the established limits, which are generally stated on the lab test results. The CBD product should pass the lab test for every residual solvent that’s screened.
|Residual Solvent Analysis Results|
|ND = not detected|
|A screen for residual solvents should show that none were detected.|
Overall, there are risks that come with using CBD products, just like any other prescription or over-the-counter medication, but with due diligence, those risks can be mitigated. The key is to ask the right questions and know how to get the answers you’re looking for. Seek out manufacturers that provide state-licensed, third-party lab testing, and make sure the product you’re purchasing is labeled accurately.