Liquid Lies? 54 Percent of CBD Drinks Contain Less CBD Than Advertised According To New Study

Leafreport tested 22 CBD beverages from 20 well-known brands. The results were surprising, and unfortunately, not in a good way.
Liquid Lies? 54 Percent of CBD Drinks Contain Less CBD Than Advertised According To New Study
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This story originally appeared on Leaf Report

By Gleb Oleinik, CBD Journalist

Product quality is a serious issue in the CBD industry. With no regulation from the FDA or other government agencies in sight, it’s entirely up to CBD companies to prove that their products can be trusted. As a followup to our recent study on the inaccuracies of labels on CBD products, we decided to conduct the same testing on CBD-infused drinks which are gaining popularity.

Like last time, we partnered with Las Vegas’ Canalysis Laboratories, a third-party cannabis testing lab, to determine whether select CBD drinks contained as much CBD as the labeling claimed.

Note: This investigation is part of Leafreport’s ongoing efforts to bring transparency to the CBD industry and educate consumers. You can also check out our report on CBD prices.

Related: It's High Time To Clean Up The CBD Industry

Summary

Overall, our findings suggest that most CBD drinks contain much less or much more CBD than they should.

This is in line with our expectations because CBD beverages are difficult to formulate and contain relatively small amounts of CBD, which means that variations of even a few milligrams (mg) can have a big effect.

 

Having said that, here’s a look at our key findings:

  • 54 percent of the products (12 products) contained less CBD than advertised
  • Two products contained no CBD at all
  • 81 percent of beverages (18 products) had CBD levels that were more than 10% higher or lower than what the label claimed
  • 64 percent of beverages (14 products) had CBD levels that were more than 40% higher or lower than what the label claimed
  • Only 18 percent of tested drinks (4 products) had CBD levels within 10% of the claimed amount, which is equivalent to an excellent (A) rating
  • Unlike our first report, we didn’t see a positive association between a company’s overall reputation and their test results. That means that leading CBD brands were not more likely to score well on our tests than lesser-known companies.

Accuracy rating

We rated the accuracy of each CBD drink by comparing the amount of CBD it was advertised to have to the actual level measured by Canalysis lab technicians.

According to cannabis industry experts, +/- 10% is a reasonable amount of variance for cannabis products, which means that a high-quality CBD product is expected to have CBD levels that are within 90–110% of what’s stated on the label.

Using this benchmark, we gave products one of four ratings, depending on how accurate their CBD content was. Here’s a complete breakdown of each rating:

  1. A (Excellent): independent lab tests showed CBD levels that were within 10% of what was stated on the label.
  2. B (Decent): independent lab tests showed CBD levels that were within 20% of what was stated on the label.
  3. C (Poor): independent lab tests showed CBD levels that were within 30% of what was stated on the label.
  4. F (fail): independent lab tests showed CBD levels that differed from the label by more than 30%.

CBD Third-Party Lab Testing Explained

The CBD industry is completely unregulated and there have been many cases of companies selling products that contain little to no CBD. That’s why reputable CBD brands started to order third-party testing of their products.

Third-party testing is done by an independent lab that’s not related to the CBD company. Its goal is to confirm the safety and effectiveness of a CBD product. The most common type of a third-party test for CBD is called a cannabinoid profile or potency test.

It shows the levels of CBD and other cannabinoids in the product to confirm that it contains as much CBD as advertised. There are several reasons why this is important:

  • You deserve to get exactly what you paid for, especially since CBD products are not that cheap
  • A product with less CBD than advertised will not only be less effective but also make people think that CBD doesn’t do anything
  • A product with more CBD than claimed will affect your dosage and increase the risk of potential side effects

Certificate of Analysis (CoA)

We ordered third-party potency tests from Canalysis for 22 CBD drink products. The results were recorded in documents called certificates of analysis (CoAs).

Next, we compared the amount of CBD recorded in the CoAs to the number stated on the product’s label to check its accuracy.

For example, if a CBD drink that should contain 25 mg actually had only 12.5 mg, that means it was 50% less accurate than the label. That would receive our F rating because it’s a very poor result — you’d be getting only half of what you paid for.

 

How to read CoAs

CBD companies usually post third-party CoA documents directly on their websites. This makes it easy for customers to check the results to confirm that the products are safe and effective.

Reading a CoA can seem confusing because of the scientific language and layout. But in reality, these documents are quite straightforward. The most important section to look for will be called “cannabinoids,” “cannabinoid profile,” “potency,” or something similar.

Here, you will see columns and/or graphs with names of cannabinoids such as CBD, THC, and others, and their reported amounts in percentages or milligrams (mg) per gram, serving, or the whole container.

For example, you might see that a CBD beverage contains 50 mg of CBD per unit, which means there’s 50 mg total in the whole container.

This is enough to get you started. For more info, check out our detailed guide on reading a CoA or watch the video below:

 

Summary table

Below is the summary of the third-party test results of the 22 CBD-infused drinks we looked at. Products with a minus sign under the variance column contained less CBD than stated on the label, while others had more.

Disclaimer: Our report is based solely on our test findings. However, test results may vary and our findings should not be seen as conclusive, complete, error-free, or at all times methodologically or scientifically accurate. Nothing contained in this report should be construed as a recommendation to use or refrain from taking any product, or to reflect on the nature of the tested products, their efficacy or otherwise. References in this report to any specific products, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the reader and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or otherwise. Furthermore, the information contained in this report is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Moreover, it is not meant as a substitute for or an alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional before using any product reviewed herein.

 

PRODUCE NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBDACTUAL CBDVARIANCE (% DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACTUAL AND STATED CBD CONTENT)
Savage CBD Revive ShotA2525.75053.00%
Dram Beauty Bubbles CBD Sparkling WaterA2525.682.72%
Wyld Blood Orange Sparkling WaterA2526.41845.67%
Cleen Craft Hemp ColaA1616.75974.75%
Koi Hemp Wellness ShotB2529.27317.09%
Flo Chi Jasmine Mint Oolong TeaB3033.7912.63%
Funky Farms Powdered Drinks MixB2521.8838-12.46%
CBD American Shaman Sparkling Watermelon WaterC1012.141521.42%
Creating Better Days Nano CBD Beverage EnhancerF20041.1557-79.42%
Sprig CBD Infused SodaF2044.118220.59%
Blue Label Naturals CBD WaterF50-100.00%
Sativa CBD WaterF250-100.00%
CBD Living Sparkling Water Peach HoneyF2513.0229-47.91%
CBD Living WaterF1016.565.00%
Diamond CBD Chill ShotF206.4482-67.76%
Diamond CBD 4-6 Hour Relaxation CBD ShotF200.5662-97.17%
Sunday Scaries YOLO ShotF5012.4352-75.13%
Oki Cucumber Mint Refresh CBD WaterF206.3401-68.30%
Sweet Reason Sparkling WaterF106.9252-30.75%
Hempd Infused Water Peach MangoF205.341-73.30%
CBDfx Lemonade Chill ShotF20015.7479-92.13%
Flo Chi Lemon WaterF3041.2337.43%

 

Detailed Test Results

Savage CBD Revive Shot

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Savage CBD Revive ShotA2525.75053.00%

Savage CBD is a well-known Californian brand offering a wide range of CBD products that includes beverages and vape e-liquids. We tested the company’s revive shot, which is supposed to contain 25 mg of CBD.

The third-party tests showed an actual CBD content of 25.75 mg; a difference of only 3%. This is not only an excellent (A-rating) result but also one the second-best accuracy out of all the drinks we examined.

 

 

 

Dram Beauty Bubbles CBD Sparkling Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Dram Beauty Bubbles CBD Sparkling WaterA2525.682.72%

DRAM Apothecary is a relatively small CBD brand, so we didn’t expect its products to match up to leading companies. We tested its beauty bubbles CBD sparkling water, which is supposed to have 25 mg of CBD.

Surprisingly, the tests showed 25.68 mg of CBD, which is 2.72% higher. That’s the best result out of any CBD beverage we tested, which goes to show that just because a company is small and not well-known doesn’t necessarily mean it’s products are subpar.

 

 

 

Wyld Blood Orange Sparkling Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Wyld Blood Orange Sparkling WaterA2526.41845.67%

Wyld CBD is a Portland, Oregon-based company that focuses on beverages and edibles. As such, we were expecting a pretty good result from their blood orange sparkling water.

The numbers didn’t disappoint: this drink is advertised to provide 25 mg of CBD, while the tests showed a real content of 26.42 mg. That’s a difference of only 5.67%, which is well within the 10% cutoff for an A rating.

The tests also showed the presence of other beneficial phytocannabinoids, such as THCV, THCA, and CBCA. This confirms that the product is made with THC-free broad-spectrum extract, which is more beneficial than pure CBD on its own.

 

 

 

Cleen Craft Hemp Cola

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBG AMOUNTACTUAL CBG AMOUNTVARIANCE
Cleen Craft Hemp ColaA1616.75974.75

Cleen Craft is a niche company that offers beverages infused with hemp extract. They differ from other CBD brands in one major way they use minor cannabinoids such as CBG instead of CBD in their products.

Minor cannabinoids are present in much smaller quantities in cannabis than CBD and THC but are believed to carry many of the same benefits.

We tested the company’s hemp cola, which is supposed to contain 16 mg of hemp extract. Our tests showed that this beverage contained 16.76 mg of the minor cannabinoid CBG.

That’s just 4.75% higher than the claimed amount, which is an excellent result that deserves our A rating, especially considering that minor cannabinoids are more difficult (and expensive) to obtain.

The tests also showed the presence of other beneficial minor cannabinoids, including THCV, THCA, and CBCA. This confirms that the product is made with whole-plant hemp extract, which is more beneficial than pure CBD on its own.

 

 

Koi Hemp Wellness Shot

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Koi Hemp Wellness ShotB2529.27317.09%

Koi CBD is a leading brand that’s especially popular for its CBD vape e-liquids. But do its other products measure up? We looked at Koi’s hemp wellness shot. This drink is supposed to provide 25 mg of CBD but actually contained 29.27 mg.

That means you’re getting 17.09% more CBD than what you paid for. While it’s always better to get more CBD than less, this result still gets our B rating because it’s outside the 10% range.

 

 

Flo Chi Jasmine Mint Oolong Tea

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Flo Chi Jasmine Mint Oolong TeaB3033.7912.63%

Flo Chi is a brand operated by Irwin Naturals, a well-established supplement company that recently expanded into the CBD space. Flo Chi offers CBD-infused drinks and edibles.

We tested its jasmine mint oolong tea, which should have 30 mg of CBD. The third-party tests showed an actual level of 33.79 mg, which is 12.63% higher.

Although this result is fairly good, it’s slightly off from our A-rating, which requires products to fall within the 10% of the advertised CBD content.

 

 

Funky Farms Powdered Drinks Mix

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Funky Farms Powdered Drinks MixB2521.8838-12.46

Funky Farms is a Florida-based CBD brand. We tested its powdered drinks mix, which is supposed to have 25 mg of CBD.

The tests revealed an actual content of 21.88 mg, which is about 12.5% off. That’s an okay result, but it does fall shy of the 10% maximum difference required by our A rating, so we give Funky Farms a solid B.

 

 

CBD American Shaman Sparkling Watermelon Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
CBD American Shaman Sparkling Watermelon WaterC1012.141521.42%

CBD American Shaman is a major brand offering all types of CBD products, including beverages. We tested its sparkling watermelon water, which is advertised to contain 10 mg of CBD.

Our tests reported a CBD content of 12.14 mg. This might not seem like a big difference, but percentage-wise, it’s 21.42% higher than the label. That gives it a C rating, which isn’t that great.

 

 

Creating Better Days Nano CBD Beverage Enhancer

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Creating Better Days Nano CBD Beverage EnhancerF20041.1557-79.42%

Creating Better Days is a CBD company unique for offering a wide range of CBD products made with nano emulsification technology. We tested its Nano CBD Beverage Enhancer, which is advertised to contain 200 mg of CBD.

Unfortunately, our tests showed an actual CBD level of 41.16 mg, which is almost 80% lower than the stated amount. That’s a resounding F rating.

To make matters worse, our tests also detected 4.97 mg of THC. The label and the product description make no mention of THC, especially in such a notable amount.

 

 

Sprig CBD Infused Soda

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Sprig CBD Infused SodaF2044.118220.59%

Sprig CBD is a popular brand of CBD-infused beverages, so we were expecting great results.

We looked at the company’s CBD infused soda, which is supposed to provide 20 mg of CBD. Our tests showed an actual CBD content of 44.12 mg, which is more than 220% higher.

Again, while it’s certainly nice to get much more CBD than what you paid for, this level of inaccuracy is simply too high and earns an F rating.

 

 

 

Blue Label Naturals CBD Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Blue Label Naturals CBD WaterF50-100.00%

Blue Label Naturals is a California-based brand offering standard CBD products as well as less common ones such as drinks.

We took a look at its CBD water, which should contain 5 mg of CBD. However, our third-party tests showed it had no CBD or any other cannabinoids. It doesn’t get any worse than that, so the F rating is well deserved.

 

 

Sativa CBD Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Sativa CBD WaterF250-100.00%

Sativa Water is a relatively new company that specializes in one product — CBD-infused water. This water is supposed to contain 25 mg of CBD per bottle.

Unfortunately, just like the case with Blue Label Naturals, our tests showed no presence of CBD or any other cannabinoid.

 

 

CBD Living Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
CBD Living WaterF1016.565.00%

CBD Living is arguably the most popular brand of CBD water, so we were curious to test its quality.

Each bottle is supposed to contain 10 mg of CBD, but our tests revealed an actual content of 16.5 mg. That’s 65% higher than the label, which is a poor result. While it’s certainly better to be getting more CBD than less, this still puts the company’s quality control in question.

 

 

CBD Living Peach Honey Sparkling Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
CBD Living Peach Honey Sparkling WaterF2513.0229-47.91%

Not satisfied with just one product, we also put CBD Living’s peach honey-flavored sparkling water to the test.

It’s supposed to have 25 mg of CBD, but actually contained only 13 mg, which is almost 50% less. This result is a great way to demonstrate poor quality control, since the other CBD Living product, we tested contained 65% more CBD than it should.

Point being, if a product contains much more CBD than it should, there’s a chance that another product from the same company can contain much less. This highlights an issue with quality control.

 

Diamond CBD Chill Shot

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Diamond CBD Chill ShotF206.4482-67.76%

Diamond CBD is a well-known company that offers a dizzying array of CBD products.

We tested the company’s chill shot, which should contain 20 mg of CBD. However, the tests showed only 6.45 mg of CBD. That’s almost 68% less than advertised, which is unacceptable and gets our F rating.

 

 

Diamond CBD 4-6 Hour Relaxation CBD Shot

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Diamond CBD 4-6 Hour Relaxation CBD ShotF200.5662-97.17%

Not satisfied with testing just one of Diamond CBD’s many products, we also took a look at their 4-6 hour relaxation CBD shot.

This beverage is also supposed to contain 20 mg of CBD, but our tests showed only 0.57 mg. That’s almost no CBD and 97% less than what the label states, so it deserves our F rating.

 

 

Sunday Scaries YOLO Shot

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Sunday Scaries YOLO ShotF5012.4352-75.13%

Based in California, Sunday Scaries is a company that focuses on pleasant-tasting, convenient CBD products such as gummies and beverages.

We tested its YOLO shot, which is supposed to provide 50 mg of CBD per bottle and also comes at a surprisingly low price.

However, the tests revealed that it contained only 12.44 mg of CBD, which is about 75% less. That’s a fairly poor result.

 

 

Oki Cucumber Mint Refresh CBD Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Oki Cucumber Mint Refresh CBD WaterF206.3401-68.30%

Oki is a relatively new brand specializing in CBD-infused beverages. We tested its cucumber mint-flavored CBD water, which should provide 20 mg of CBD.

Despite that, our results revealed a CBD content of only 6.3 mg, which is about 68% lower than the label. That gets a well-deserved F rating for product accuracy.

 

 

Sweet Reason Sparkling Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Sweet Reason Sparkling WaterF106.9252-30.75%

Sweet Reason is a brand specializing in CBD drinks. We tested the company’s strawberry lavender-flavored sparkling water. This beverage should contain 10 mg of CBD but only had 6.93 mg, which is about 30% lower than the label.

That barely falls into our F rating category, which is a fairly poor result. Having said that, this drink did have one thing going for it.

The tests also showed the presence of other beneficial phytocannabinoids, namely CBDV, THCV, and CBG. This means this particular beverage is made with whole-plant hemp extract, which is considered more beneficial than pure CBD.

 

 

Hempd Infused Water Peach Mango

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Hempd Peach Mango Infused WaterF205.341-73.30%

Hempd is an established CBD brand that offers CBD beverages and gummies. We examined its peach mango-flavored CBD water, which should provide 20 mg of CBD.

However, our third-party tests showed an actual CBD amount of only 5.3 mg, which is about 73% lower than the label. That’s a poor result, especially for a brand that is supposed to specialize in CBD-infused beverages.

 

 

CBDfx Lemonade Chill Shot

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
CBDfx Lemonade Chill ShotF20015.7479-92.13

CBDfx is one of the most popular CBD brands, so we were curious to see if its reputation stood up to our independent tests. We examined the company’s lemonade-flavored chill shot.

It’s supposed to contain 200 mg of CBD per bottle but actually had only 15.75 mg: 92% less than advertised. That’s a poor result, especially considering that CBDfx’s CBD oil passed our previous third-party testing experiment with flying colors.

 

 

 

Flo Chi Lemon Water

PRODUCT NAMERATINGCLAIMED CBD AMOUNTACTUAL CBD AMOUNTVARIANCE
Flo Chi Lemon WaterF3041.2337.43

This was the second product we tested from the Flo Chi brand. This lemon water is advertised to have 30 mg of CBD, whereas our tests showed an actual CBD content of 41.23 mg. That’s more than 37% higher.

While it’s nice to get more CBD than you paid for, as far as accuracy goes, that’s a poor result that gets our F rating.

Conclusion

As we can see, most of the CBD beverages we tested contained far less (or far more) CBD than was claimed on the label. This is a big difference from our earlier report, which demonstrated that most CBD oils are relatively accurate.

However, the results are not that surprising. For one, CBD beverages are more difficult to formulate than oils because CBD is a fat-soluble molecule that doesn’t dissolve in water.

On top of that, the amounts of CBD used in tinctures are much higher than those added to beverages, which means that variations of a few mg will have a much bigger impact on the accuracy of a beverage.

To illustrate this, let’s take a CBD oil that should have 500 mg of CBD.

A variation of 5 mg would not affect the accuracy of this product very much because that’s a difference of only 1 percent. However, if we take a CBD drink that should have 25 mg of CBD, that same 5 mg difference would result in a 20 percent drop in accuracy.

Point being, it takes more work to produce accurate, high-quality CBD beverages than CBD oils. And as we can see from these results, most companies are not putting in that extra work.

What should you take away from our report?

First, the results confirm the importance of only buying CBD products from third-party tested companies.

At the same time, all of the companies we tested already use third-party testing, yet their beverages still scored poorly on our independent tests. This means it may be better to avoid buying CBD drinks for the time being.

If you want to be sure you’re getting what you paid for, it’s better to stick to CBD oils and other established options such as capsules. When it comes to more flashy products such as drinks, the CBD industry still has room to improve.

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