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A Pharmacist Weighs in on How To Know If Your CBD is Safe

An anecdote to the misinformation being fed to CBD customers.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The CBD industry is powerfully disrupting pharmaceuticals. Instead of turning to traditional over-the-counter medications, people are discovering the healing properties of CBD through pain creams, capsules, tinctures, and edibles. CBD products are easily incorporated into users’ everyday life and can offer a wide variety of benefits. Today, CBD is used to treat many conditions, including anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, epilepsy, and sleep disorders. 

However, despite its popularity, CBD is still relatively new on the market, and the FDA does not require any formal testing, nor do they approve any CBD products. (except Epidiolex) Many customers are being exposed to misinformation about CBD and a marketplace flooded with unreliable products with no quality assurance or accountability. 

As a compounding pharmacy, we studied the chemistry, therapeutic evidence, and testing to formulate CBD products with the right combination of cannabinoids that work best for different body chemistries. But it’s a continuous improvement process. Because we manufacture all kinds of pharmaceutical products for patients, we decided to apply that knowledge and experience to CBD products.

Our priority was educating consumers on how to ensure that what they’re buying is safe. That means doing your homework and understanding the brand’s supply chain. First, make sure you source high-quality ingredients from the hemp itself to any additives. We suggest choosing organically grown hemp from a reputable farm. You know that your starting materials are safe. 

Manufacturing processes also play a role in creating safe and effective products. Ask yourself: How and where are these products being made. Manufacturing processes are at the root of safety, hygiene, and efficacy. We’re fortunate to be processing our products in a federally-regulated pharmacy using specialized equipment. 

Related: 4 Smart Ways CBD Brands Can Gain Consumer Trust

The potency question

A lot of customers ask me how to gauge a product’s potency and effectiveness. Being such a nascent and unregulated industry pays to take the time to do a little extra research. For example, if you’re working with topicals, you’ll want to ensure particles are nanosized for faster absorption. Our pain creams are our most labor-intensive product for this reason. We start with the same base as our prescription-strength products and then hand-mix them in small batches to maintain the integrity of the ingredients and ensure more rapid absorption.

CBD users should understand what bioavailability means, whether it’s tinctures or edibles, or topicals. You want to ensure that enough of the product is getting into your system to get the full effects most efficiently. 

Customers are always shocked that CBD products are not required to be tested. If there were one piece of advice I could give the public, it would be to choose brands and products that go the extra mile to have their products tested. Depending on where the hemp is sourced, toxins like pesticides and heavy metals can make their way into the products. That’s why I support third-party testing on CBD products and why I invest in it for my customers. I also believe that companies should offer complete transparency in their COAs (certificates of analysis) so customers can see exactly what’s in the product and how they scored in testing. 

In the absence of federal oversight, CBD users must become informed consumers. Anyone can manufacture and sell CBD products, making it dangerous for both consumers and patients. Until the industry is more widely regulated, I encourage customers to do the extra homework and learn about a brand’s hemp sourcing, manufacturing processes, and testing to ensure that they’re getting safe and effective products.