There are two main cannabinoids, which are found in the cannabis plant: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC and CBD are similar in chemical structure and the effects they cause in humans, but THC contains a psychoactive component that also gives you a high feeling and CBD does not. Cannabinoid products have been part of a growing market over the past few years, especially since the legalization of hemp and/or cannabis in a lot of states and countries.
Types Of Products
When you think of taking cannabinoids, you may think of the ‘traditional’ method of inhaling it via smoking and vaping. This is still one of the most popular choices, but there are countless new brands and companies popping up, offering a variety of strains, strengths, and even flavors. HHC carts are one example of a new product, which is used in a vape pen, and the chemical is a semi-synthesized cannabinoid made by altering THC in a lab. It offers a slightly different and milder high than THC, which people may prefer. And if you don’t want to experience any high at all, there are CBD products that don’t get you intoxicated at all.
However, there are now a variety of ways you can consume cannabinoids, not just inhalation. There are topicals (like lotions, creams, and even lubricants), consumable oils that you can add to drinks and foods, CBD capsules, and edibles. Whatever way you decide to ingest a cannabinoid product depends on your personal preference and what you are aiming to achieve from using it (for example, for targeted pain relief you might use a cream, or for the accurate dosage you might use a capsule).
The Importance Of Quality
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) works to protect public health by regulating the standards of drugs, biological products, food, and more. The FDA has only approved one cannabis-derived product, known as Epidiolex, for the treatment of rare epileptic conditions, by reducing seizures. Apart from this drug, the FDA does not fully regulate any other cannabinoid products, which means there can be lots of mislabelling and misinformation on a product. They do, however, try to track down companies that make unfounded health claims, for example. The lack of standardization can cause the following problems.
Depending on where a cannabis plant is sourced, there can be a variety of harmful chemicals that can enter the plant. Soil quality is an important factor in growing a high-quality cannabis plant, and the use of pesticides can affect the plant too. These are a couple of examples of how a plant may absorb contaminants (such as heavy metals, microbes, and pesticides) that you would consequently consume, and potentially harm you.
An investigation into labels on CBD products found that on 40 products from 21 different brands, there was only 25% that had the correct amount of CBD labeled. Understanding the dose of CBD or THC in a product is vital in ensuring you are staying safe and using cannabinoid products responsibly.
False Medical Claims
The FDA has to approve any claims of products being used for medical use or treatment of diseases, but many companies market their products without this approval. Lack of conclusive research and evidence means that a lot of information on websites and products is unfounded; we simply do not have enough information at the moment to know whether cannabinoids can be used to treat things like Lyme disease, autism, and concussions.
How To Find Quality Products
So now you understand why it is vital to ensure you are using high-quality products, and you have chosen your preferred type of product, you can do some research to find a brand that is right for you.
Source Of The Plant
In the USA, hemp and cannabis plants can come from many different states but also overseas, where quality checks and standards will differ. You need to check whether the plant comes from a state-licensed dispensary where things like soil quality and federal checks for use of illegal pesticides are carried out.
Certificate of Analysis (COA)
Ask to be shown a COA of the product which will show you how it performed in tests that check for THC, CBD, and contaminant levels. It’s best to stay clear of any store or company that cannot or will not provide this information. Bear in mind that for hemp products, final testing of CBD levels isn’t required so if there is COA, it means the company arranged for it themselves, which could indicate they are a more reputable brand. Also, check on the COA to see whether the lab meets “ISO 17025” standards (certain scientific standards).
For further assurance of quality, see who carried out the testing. The national standard-setting organizations include the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists (AOAC), the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP), or the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP).
Is It Organic?
Plants that are grown organically are not subjected to genetic alterations and harmful pesticides. The health of the plant will impact the quality and, ultimately, its impact on you. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves whether a product is organic or not, so you can look out for this in the product you’re interested in.
Check the dosage of the product; this is displayed in milligrams (mg) and can vary depending on the form of the product. When selecting a CBD product, if the product only displays the total cannabinoids (not just CBD or THC), then consider it a red flag – some companies do this to avoid scrutiny from the FDA.
All in all, cannabinoid products come in many different shapes and sizes. Depending on what form of product you decide to take, there will be a range of brands to choose from. You should research these brands and look at the source of the cannabinoids and the extent of quality checks they carry out, you can ask staff members at a store and request a COA. Take note of whether it’s organic and also check the labeling to see the amount of CBD and THC present.