Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash.
Photo by CRYSTALWEED cannabis on Unsplash.
  • A cannabis oil reviewer website, Cannabis Oil South Africa, decided to blind test 10 CBD products to see if what they said on the label was actually in the bottle.
  • But only one lived up to the claim.
  • Of the remaining nine products; eight contained way more CBD with one brand 156.84% more than stated; and one product, a skin cream, had no CBD in it at all.  
  • Consumers rely on label accuracy to choose the correct dosage of CBD, which needs to have a recommended dose of 20mg per day. Anything over can no longer be classified as being a Schedule 0 drug and is illegal.
  • Cannabis Oil SA say every product that you purchase should have a batch number which you can match with an up-to-date CBD test result called a certificate of analysis.
  • Without one you are taking a risk.
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When a consumer buys a product, the expectation is: what is on the label is what it claims. So, you can imagine the surprise when a team at Cannabis Oil South Africa, decided to independently test 10 CBD brands available in South Africa, and found out that only one product was within an acceptable level of what its label claimed.

Of the remaining nine products, eight contained way more CBD than claimed on their labels - with one brand at 156.84% more than its stipulated amount and, more shockingly, a CBD skin cream, that had no CBD in it all.  

"Although there are many CBD oil tinctures available, it's difficult to know whether the labels are telling the truth or not. So it's time that we looked a little deeper," said a spokesperson. "Most of them are quite big brands, perhaps the biggest albeit one or two newcomers in the last couple of months. One is no longer operational."

As with any CBD product that ends up on the shelves, products are required to indicate the strength of CBD in milligrams (mg) on the label. This is not only important to help consumers choose the correct dosage, but also to meet government's recommended dosage of 20mg per day, which if over, no longer can be classified as being a Schedule 0 drug. 

The problem comes in when products available on the shelves range from 100mg up to 1,000mg of CBD. Because of this the dosage varies from one drop to several to meet the requirements.

"If the products do not contain accurate CBD amounts, you will not know exactly how much to take each time. You might find the CBD isn't working as expected or that each batch is different to the next," said Cannabis Oil South Africa.

The tests were processed by Montagu-based Qure, a Cannabis analytics laboratory that has been operating for two years. Daily, they test anything Cannabis-related from simple potency, cannabinoid and terpene profiling to residual solvents and microbial count. 

"You don't really know if you can trust what you're getting or what you're buying, which is actually a point of concern, because you would hope to get off the shelf what the label claims it to be," said Brenda Marx, Qure Laboratory Director, who oversaw the tests.

"We didn't even know what we were testing. It was given to us to test as blind samples and they asked us to test the CBD in them. All the samples were tested using the same method and the same sample preparation methods," said Marx.

Here were the results:

Test results compiled by Cannabis Oil South Africa
Test results compiled by Cannabis Oil South Africa.

*Business Insider South Africa has seen the test results and verified the tests were done with Qure.

Qure use a method called gas chromatography to determine the concentrations of CBD and THC in cannabis products.

"Depending on the type of product, a 10% tolerance around label claim is often acceptable in the pharmaceutical industry," says Marx.

Currently there are no acceptable ranges defined for CBD products in South Africa, it's up to the manufacturer to set their own acceptance criteria. Under normal circumstances when a product is tested, and Qure knows what it is they are testing, the company will flag it if there are suspicious results.

"Usually if we know what an expected result should be, we will do an investigation to make sure that all the right protocols were followed in the lab and that everything was done correctly according to the methods. By far the most samples that we get are in flower form, so it's still in the blind form - meaning that we don't know what result is expected. There are no label specifications," says Marx.

The blinded results were more of a fluke than was expected. Typically tests come back within the average.  

"In terms of oils, most of them that people send in give us results that are close to the expected levels. Sometimes there are surprises and then we usually find the problem in either the extraction or the blending method on the production side."

What can you do to make sure yours is accurate?

Cannabis Oil SA say every product that you purchase should have a batch number to match with an up-to-date CBD test result COA (certificate of analysis). By law, the products must provide this information.

If you can't find a COA for the product or if you are unsure whether the COA is linked to your current batch, it's important that you contact the supplier directly to find out more. If they cannot (or refuse) to provide you with the test results, it is an clear indication that their products likely cannot be trusted.

CBD oil providers in South Africa should have this information on hand, or it is usually listed on the product's page or on a shop's website.

What can be done?

If you've noticed unregistered CBD items, the South African Police Service and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority urge the public to make them aware of the products that contravene the act, reports News24.

"There are plenty of these high-quality CBD oils available. Will you continue to let the deceptive companies pull the wool over your eyes or are you ready to find out the truth? Remember - if there isn't a test result, something isn't right," said Cannabis Oil South Africa. 

* The article was updated: Cannabis Oil South Africa reviews CBD oils, and does not distribute them. 

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