For wellness, the best CBD is certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority. Here’s why.
Do you take cannabidiol (CBD)? If so, you’re not alone. According to a 2019 Gallup Poll, 14 percent of Americans are taking CBD to treat anxiety, insomnia, inflammation and other other conditions.
But this ‘Green Rush’ has happened fast, for producers and for consumers. Hundreds of manufacturers and thousands of entrepreneurs are hustling to get into the game, and (surprise!) not all of the CBD flooding the market is good stuff.
How do you know if a CBD brand is good or not?
We’re often asked to take someone’s word for it, whether it’s a friend or family member, celebrity pitch person, or a website that presents no rationale for why they are saying, “Hey, buy this CBD, it’s good stuff.”
Personal assurances are not enough when you’re swallowing a tincture, capsule or gummy, or rubbing in a balm into your skin, and you don’t know where it comes from. Remember the vaping crisis of 2019? Millions of people thought it was perfectly OK to inhale the vapor of unregulated chemical solutions. Then people started getting sick and dying. It was not OK after all.
Your body is your one and only. If you’re going to consume CBD, it has to be free of pesticides, molds and solvents, and processed in a clean and trackable way — or your CBD could be doing more harm than good.
But here’s the thing: You can’t tell on the spot if any particular brand of CBD has been cleanly produced, or actually contains the ingredients listed on the label. These are critically important, so you have to find a way to essentially outsource your trust function. You have to find someone you can believe, who ensures your safety by verifying that the CBD product you’re looking at is processed in accordance with the same kind of standards you’d expect for a quart of milk or a loaf of bread.
How do you find CBD you can trust?
There is a short-cut: You can buy CBD that’s been certified.
What does that mean? When you ingest, inhale or rub on CBD or other hemp-derived cannabinoids, you must have independent verification that the manufacturer is at least following Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP), and delivering a safe, effective product that meets established standards.
Why? cGMP (the c denotes ‘current’) certification is awarded by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to manufacturers who are in compliance with high standards in the production of foods, supplements, vaccines, pet and veterinary products and pharmaceuticals (compliance is voluntary for cosmetics products), as established within the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).
Dietary supplements are regulated differently than food, and the FDA puts CBD in the category of dietary supplement. But what if you applied FDA standards for food and pharmaceuticals to the production of CBD? Then you would have a framework for establishing good practices in:
- Employee training
- Cleaning and sanitation
- Equipment testing
- Sourcing raw materials
- Record keeping
- Producing consistent product
- Quality assurance
And other critical functions. And this is what the U.S. Hemp Authority has done. This independent organization is not a governmental body or regulatory agency, but it has drawn upon FDA regulations to create a specific set of standards for the hemp industry, with guidelines for all processes of phytocannabinoid production, from seed to sale. While cGMP is a good start, companies in the CBD and hemp market who are truly serious about maintaining the highest quality standards have taken the next step, and earned certification from the U.S. Hemp Authority.
Why is the U.S. Hemp Authority necessary?
There’s a lot of CBD out there. As noted, there are literally hundreds of brands, and no requirement that they follow guidelines for making quality products. Regardless of what these CBD producers (or the people marketing their products) say, you and I — unless you happen to be an organic chemist with your own lab — can’t tell if the product is clean, safe and effective. This is why we need someone looking out for us.
U.S. Hemp Authority standards have been created as a safeguard against unsafe, contaminated or mislabeled products being sold to consumers like you and me. There’s currently no mandate for CBD providers to follow these standards, they are strictly voluntary. But quality standards are good for producers seeking to provide trustworthy products, and for people who insist on quality standards.
Discerning consumers want to know what they’re getting. Would you trust a provider who does not voluntarily adhere to quality standards? There is some oversight: Occasionally the FDA will issue warning letters to CBD producers for “marketing CBD products to treat diseases or for other therapeutic uses for humans and/or animals.” But the industry has exploded so fast, the agency has had trouble keeping up, so consumers have been exposed to substandard, unverified CBD from manufacturers who care more about their profits than about making quality products.
And consumers should be vigilant. Uncertified CBD products could pose a number of problems stemming from:
- An undocumented supply chain, so it’s impossible to know if the hemp is organic, and has been cleanly processed.
- A lack of testing, so it’s impossible to know if the product actually contains the advertised amount of CBD, or if it has been contaminated by residual pesticide and / or solvents or mold that could adversely affect the consumer of the product.
- Inaccurate labeling, so the product contains little or no CBD, or more than it says on the package, again creating a bad result for the consumer.
Look for the U.S. Hemp Authority seal
Like the Good Housekeeping seal, designation by an independent body on a CBD product is your assurance that high quality standards were followed in its production. In a market that has been likened to the wild west, it’s your best bet that you’ll avoid sub-standard products that could cause some of the problems mentioned above.
U.S. Hemp Authority standards have been designed to give you confidence that certified CBD products have been manufactured in a facility that meets eGMP standards for professional cleanliness and hygiene, batch processing and other important documentation.
Beyond eGMP standards and protocols for quality management, U.S. Hemp Authority products are produced in adherence to best farm management practices (employee training, pre- and post-harvest sampling and handling, potency and strength quantification and many others).
Also above and beyond eGMP, U.S. Hemp Authority certified manufacturers must document their processes for after-harvest procedures, including:
- Sampling and handling hemp for THC and cannabinoid analysis
- Contaminant testing and hemp cannabinoid quantification
- Equipment and utensils
- Production and process control
- Packaging and labeling
- Holding and distributing
- Quality control operations
In other words, it’s an exhaustive process that protects consumers by assuring documented quality from seed to sale. In an immature industry, U.S. Hemp Authority certification puts structure around the factors that define safety and efficacy, and that’s why Kannaboom does not hesitate to recommend CBD producers who have earned the U.S. Hemp Authority seal.
So far, these companies include:
We expect many more companies to take this step, and we will add to this list as they become certified.
It’s about the integrity of your CBD
I have full confidence in these products, and I use them myself. The bottom line: Your body is under assault every day, from toxins and viruses in the environment, and through the normal process of aging. Many people take CBD as a supplement that helps keep their endocannabinoid system — and their body — in balance. As with any supplement, it pays to do your homework and buy the brands that have been certified.
For more on how the U.S. Hemp Authority operates, listen to our podcast with president of the board Marielle Winetraub.
To be clear, Kannaboom receives no commissions or other remuneration from the U.S. Hemp Authority; our aim is to point consumers of CBD and other hemp products to the best-quality products available. Kannaboom may receive affiliate commissions from these brands, and when we can, we negotiate discounts and pass them on to you.