4 Investigates: CBD industry is operating in the dark
May 20, 2019 07:42 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- CBD products are sold in specialty stores and strip malls all over New Mexico. Some people use it to treat everything from anxiety to sleeplessness. However, there's one big problem -- the brand new industry is not regulated and there's no guarantee people are getting what they are paying for.
At Nature's Secret in Albuquerque, business is quickly outgrowing the space. CBD products pack the shelves in the specialty shop.
"I think we're finally going to be at the forefront of something," said Cassie Eaton who is the floor manager for Nature's Secret.
Commercial grade CBD is extracted from the hemp plant. By law, it can only have trace amounts of the psychoactive THC to ensure people do not get high.
Currently, the entire hemp-derived CBD industry is operating in the dark. There are no federal safety or health standards and on some products, the labeling can be questionable.
"We see that all the time... if something is handwritten, we are skeptical," said Eaton. "Handwritten generally means it's being made in a crockpot and that's scary to us. What regulations are there? What other outside sources or other contaminants are being put in that product? We don't' know and neither do the consumers, and then they're putting that in their body."
The 4 Investigates team went undercover and purchased CBD oils from three Albuquerque businesses.
The Smoke Shop on San Mateo and Candelaria sold us one CBD oil which was factory sealed and labeled with detailed information, including a batch number and testing information.
Duke City Herbs on Central sold us oil with no factory seal and a label with little information.
The Gathering Spot sold us oil which had no factory seal and a handwritten label that lists two different amounts of CBD. One worker also claimed that the product was FDA approved, which is not true.
The FDA is not currently approving CBD products. There are no rules addressing labeling or packaging -- so none of the stores our team visited broke any laws. The workers at Duke City Herbs told us in a follow-up interview that their oil is normally sealed and the one our team bought must have slipped through. We also reached out to the Gather Spot but have not heard back, but we heard from the company that makes the CBD oil that was sold to the 4 Investigates team. The owners of Miss Teddi's said the Gathering Spot sold one of their test bottles by mistake. They added that their CBD products are normally sealed and are accompanied by a complete list of ingredients.
The 4 Investigates team took their purchases to New Mexico Rep. Derrick Lente. He sponsored the hemp bill which was recently signed by the governor.
"When I look at [the CBD products purchased] here with no protection labels and anyone can go in there and smell it and whatever they want to it, obviously there's question for concern," said Lente.
The new state hemp law will eventually mandate lab testing for CBD products and force CBD manufacturers in New Mexico to standardize labeling.
"These types of rules and policies are all being made," said Lente, adding later: "Not only just to protect the consumer but to ensure the consumer is getting what they paid for and also to ensure that the state is pushing an industry that is safe for its citizens."
The 4 Investigates team also attempted to have the CBD products we purchased tested. However, every lab in New Mexico that our team contacted turned them down because they all do business with CBD manufacturers.
However, the state government is in the process of setting up an independent lab to hold the industry accountable.
Lente said the state hopes to finalize those rules and regulations within the next three months. In the meantime, CBD advocates urge buyers to beware, shop around and demand proof of lab testing.
"We don't really believe labeling when it comes through the door -- we always verify it ourselves," said Eaton. "I think that needs to happen starting with the farmers and the soil here in the state as well as on the retail end of what we do. It's everybody's job to make sure there's quality control in this industry."
Next week, the FDA will hold its first hearing on how to regulate the hemp industry nationwide.
Updated: May 20, 2019 07:42 PM
Created: May 19, 2019 10:32 PM
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