Hemp leaf extract on label for cbd oil

How to Read Hemp and CBD Product Labels

Hemp comes in many forms, in fact, these days it comes in just about ANY form. When buying hemp products there are also several ways they are classified and labeled. You have likely seen products that are sold as “full-spectrum,” “broad spectrum,” and “THC-Free” or “Isolate.” It can all be quite overwhelming and confusing for consumers, but these definitions are important to understand, especially when you have concerns about THC levels and effects.

Until recently, there were no established regulatory definitions for the different terms being used. Now the US Hemp Authority, Colorado Department of Health and the Environment (CDPHE), and the Hemp Lexicon, created by the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), have all instituted formal definitions for these terms. In this article, we will be looking at the CDPHE and AHPA Hemp Lexicon definitions. An assumption can be made that once the FDA defines regulations for CBD, they too will establish formal interpretations of these terms.

Hemp Plant Components

Hemp plants can contain many different cannabinoids including CBD and THC. These are compounds that occur naturally in the plant that are believed to have certain therapeutic benefits. Hemp plants also contain aromatic essential oils, flavonoids, and terpenes which serve as the plant’s defense mechanism against pests. These compounds may also provide therapeutic benefits for consumers of hemp flower or hemp products.

Limit of Detection (LOD) and Limit of Quantification (LOQ)

A single sample may contain more than one cannabinoid of interest (like CBD, THC, and others) in both high and low concentrations. In this case, cannabinoids can be hard to detect and quantify using a standard method and may require a different type of analysis. To detect both high and low concentrations of these cannabinoids, the method is adjusted to measure them at both of these extremes. This is called a Trace Potency Analysis. In this case, the LOD and LOQ values can be much lower. In short, determining the LOD and LOQ values may vary depending on the cannabinoids of interest and the different analytical techniques and instruments being used.

Full Spectrum Extract & The “Entourage Effect”

The CDPHE defines Full Spectrum Hemp Extract as, “ an industrial hemp product that contains all phytochemicals naturally found in the plant, trace cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils, with no more than 0.3% total THC.”

When discussing the benefits of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils present in flower or a hemp product, people often use the term “entourage effect”. The “entourage effect” is believed to occur when many different cannabis compounds are present in a product, thus enhancing the overall therapeutic benefits. There is some research around the interactions between CBD and THC, showing that the presence of both may enhance the effect of each compound. More research is needed to investigate and quantify the specific effects of different combinations of these compounds.

Because full spectrum extracts should contain all of the phytochemicals from the original source plant, consumers looking for the “entourage effect” will likely purchase this category of products. When considering full spectrum products, be aware that sometimes they can contain enough THC to produce a psychoactive effect, especially when more than the recommended dose is taken. Additionally, full spectrum products may cause someone to fail a THC drug test. A standard potency analysis will suffice to measure the cannabinoids in a full spectrum flower or product.

Fig.1 An example of a Full Spectrum Standard Potency Analysis

Broad Spectrum Extract

For those looking for multiple cannabinoids and less THC, broad spectrum extract is another option. The CDPHE defines broad spectrum hemp extract as, “an industrial hemp product that contains multiple cannabinoids and no more than 0.01% total THC .”

The main difference between broad spectrum and full spectrum is that the THC has been intentionally removed and is “Non-Detectable” or “ND”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the product has NO THC at all, just that it could not be detected by a standard potency test. Many companies regard broad spectrum extract as containing multiple beneficial compounds, without the THC, which can be misleading because it could still contain a trace amount of THC.

The only way to determine that a product contains NO THC is with a Trace Cannabinoid Analysis, which lowers the LOD tenfold as compared to a standard potency analysis. Broad spectrum products are unlikely to produce any psychoactive effects or cause someone to fail a THC drug test (although this is still possible). Again, this depends on the LOD and LOQ of the testing methodology.

Fig. 2 An example of a Broad Spectrum Standard Potency Analysis

THC Free Hemp Extract

The CDPHE does not currently define THC free extract so we will use the AHPA Hemp Lexicon definition. The Lexicon defines THC free as “ a resinoid hemp extract comprising a wide range of relatively hydrophobic hemp constituents, which has been processed to remove THC such that the THC has been found to be non-detectable by a compliant laboratory using a fit-for-purpose method with a limit of detection of less than 0.01%.”

Broad spectrum and cannabinoid isolate products (see below) are often labeled as “THC-Free” when these products can still contain traces of THC below the LOD and LOQ of the test method. This has resulted in several lawsuits against CBD companies by plaintiffs that failed drug tests after using products labeled as “THC-Free”. The plaintiffs in these cases believed that the labeling was deceptive in that it suggested that use of the product would NOT result in a failed drug test. Some states no longer allow the term “THC-Free” on product labels or require a disclaimer stating that the product may contain trace amounts of THC. Again, “THC-Free” status on a product can only be confirmed with a Trace Cannabinoid Analysis completed by an accredited laboratory.

The AHPA Hemp Lexicon defines isolate as “a chemical constituent that has been isolated from an herb.” It goes on to say that the appropriate threshold for material to be considered an isolate is the subject of some controversy, but that it is generally considered to be in the range of 70-95%. It is extremely rare for an isolate to be above 95% , because it still contains traces of other substances.

To be sure that you are not using THC, or if you are precluded from doing so because of your job, you might want to consider using a lab tested cannabinoid isolate. However, because isolates are comprised of only a single isolated cannabinoid, you will forego the benefit of the “entourage effect”.

Fig.3 An example of a CBD Isolate Standard Potency Analysis

Fig.4 An example of a CBC Isolate Trace Potency Analysis

The Importance of Third-Party Lab Testing, Transparency, and QR Codes

Because of the confusion around these hemp terms and lack of federal regulation, it is critical that you purchase products from companies that share their third-party laboratory COAs. These COAs can be found on a company’s website or as a QR code on the product label. There have been several recent instances of recalls of cannabis and hemp products that were not correctly labeled. Label requirements also vary greatly from state to state. The only way for you to truly know what is in a product is to view the lab report. Brands that choose to share their third-party lab reports know that transparency is key for consumer safety and customer brand loyalty.

About Aurum Labs

Aurum is a CDPHE-certified and ISO-Accredited third-party testing laboratory offering comprehensive hemp testing services to growers and manufacturers in Colorado and throughout the country. Aurum offers industry-leading turn-times, competitive pricing, and extensive expertise with every type of hemp product. Aurum puts accuracy in reporting and data integrity at the center of all we do. Our clients know they are getting real results and accurate COAs with easy to share QR codes. The professionals at Aurum are always happy to answer any questions you may have. Click HERE to contact us.

Tips On How To Read CBD Labels

What does hemp extract exactly mean? We cover this in more detail below.

CBD labels have been the buzz around the city recently. But how do you read these private labels?

Nutritional labels and food labels are already super confusing to read, and now you can add CBD labels to the list.

CBD is more popular than ever, but do customers know the product they are buying?

Unfortunately, Consumers need to be wise today to understand CBD product labels clearly. This includes buying cbd online, over the counter, or in a licensed medical cannabis store.

The first step to understanding private label cbd products is too look for the dosage. Keep you eye open for any vague claims, or sources.

CBD Label Requirements

Currently, Every state has different laws for cbd label regulations. And at the moment only The most competent label requirements come from state and medical programs. Beyond the state regulations, there are no federal regulations for cbd. Many cbd companies and products design their labels to look like dietary supplements or ingredient labels.

CBD Dosage

What is one dose of CBD? How many doses are in a bottle? These are the questions you want to be asking yourself.

CBD dosage is the most important piece of the product label, This includes the milligrams (mg) of CBD in the entire bottle or package. One thing to keep in mind, is that some tests have found that CBD labels are often not accurate. 23 of the 47 products tested did not have the advertised dosage amount.

While CBD companies are thriving, so are the scammers. Some CBD products have zero (0) mg of CBD, while others don’t even have 20% of what they claim.

Milligrams (mg) of CBD

Every private cbd label should clearly state the total milligrams (mg) of CBD in the bottle or package. You also want to check the serving size to see how much is in one serving. For example, eating one cbd candy gummy bear would be one serving size. The amount of cbd per serving will equal one gummy bear. Then check to see the number of servings, this is the total amount of the food or candy.

CBD Oil Source

You want to know where your cbd oil is coming from. CBD products in the medical industry come from marijuana plants that contain less than 0.3% of THC.

Another two keywords you want to look for on the private label is “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum”, versus “CBD isolate”.

  1. Full Spectrum CBD – this rating has trace levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, including THC.
  2. Broad Spectrum CBD – this rating has trace levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, and no THC.
  3. CBD isolate – This rating consists of nearly pure CBD crystals, and no cannabinoids or terpenes.

Most importantly, look for “Hemp Extract” or “Hemp Oil”, these phrases allow the cbd manufacturer to sell CBD products with no CBD in them. Amazon is full of cbd products like this that are loaded with low quality “hemp oil” products.

Most Important Things To Look For On CBD Labels

  1. Batch and Lot numbers – Many state licensed or medical cannabis companies mandate batch and lot numbers on CBD labels and packaging. Lot numbers are a sign of accountability for consumers, if there is a recall, regulators can hold an entire batch or lot and not sell it. If there is no lot number no one can know when or where it was made.
  2. Manufacturing date – Just like food products and fruits, CBD quality also degrades over time. A manufacturing date on labels is the best way to know how old a product is. CBD tinctures and edibles should be ate within months, not years.
  3. Thirst Party Lab Results – A third party lab test verifies the information on the product label is accurate.

How To Find The Best CBD Products

  1. You want to buy from a trusted store or vendor, like directly from the manufacturer’s website or from a national drugstore. Try to avoid buying from your local gas station, headshop, convenience store, surf shop or other places, as you are gambling with your money and health.
  2. Demand third party testing. Any CBD company can claim their products are tested, but only brands that link to a third party test result on the product label offer proof of the cbd potency and purity. Some of these custom labels use a QR code on the label, scan it with your camera and read the results. Another way is to enter the cbd gummy batch number to see the lab test results.
  3. Try to buy from cbd companies that have been in the game for a while, with years and years of experience.
  4. Organic sources is always a plus. If a cbd company is going through lots of paperwork and tests to be certified, the chances are they also do the same with their cbd products.
  5. Trust your eyes – If the product label looks like a children’s cereal it might not be what you want. Look for private labels that would be seen in your local pharmacy.
  6. You get what you pay for. Growing, cultivating, harvesting, and packaging CBD product is difficult and expensive. If you are buying cheap cbd products you may not be getting the full dose the label claims, if any at all.

Click here to read about CBD products that really contain the full amount advertised.

FDA Targets CBD Products & Supplements

The FDA recently sent out warning letters to a few CBD companies, specifically Morguetorium, LLC. The FDA wrote

“Your product ‘Morgue Juice’ is not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced uses and, therefore, the product is a “new drug” … New drugs may not be legally introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce without prior approval from the FDA…. FDA approves a new drug on the basis of scientific data and information demonstrating that the drug is safe and effective.”

The FDA has recently said that CBD products are excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement because CBD is still in the process of getting clinical claims researched and approved.

“FDA is not aware of any evidence that would call into question its current conclusion that CBD products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition … but you may present FDA with any evidence that has bearing on this issue,” The FDA wrote to another CBD company.

Vice President of CV sciences, Stuart Tomc, says “We produce products from outdoor grown agricultural hemp that contain fatty acids, phytocannabinoids, terpenes, plant sterols, chlorophyll and naturally occurring vitamin E, with no other ingredients,”.

“It’s clearly a botanical extract, not a pharmaceutical drug.” Says Tomc.

On the other side, the FDA tested many CBD products and found seven of them didn’t even contain the chemicals that are found within the Cannabis sativa plant: cannabinoids.

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How to label your CBD product correctly

Follow these do’s and don’ts to stay out of the federal regulator spotlight—and be considered for exhibiting at Natural Products Expo.

Editor’s note: This article is current as of June 2019.

The new world of hemp CBD-containing products is presenting excitement—and much confusion. During this time of uncertainty, New Hope Network wants to see brands labeling their hemp products appropriately in order to strengthen the industry unity.

The following recommendations are what our standards department requires to exhibit these hemp CBD-containing products at Natural Products Expo West and East. We strive to get this burgeoning industry aligned with these standards to move forward with a cohesive approach.

Determine the correct label

To determine if your product needs a food or supplement label, you need to consider the directions for use as well as the intended use of the product. If your product is a capsule, soft gel or oral spray, it needs a supplement label. For oil drops, if the suggested serving size is a number of drops, the product is also a supplement.

Even some food and beverage formats should be labeled as supplements—especially those where the suggested serving size is below the FDA’s RACC (recommended amount customarily consumed). Bottom line: it’s all about the intended use, which can be established by container size, number of servings in the container, serving size, marketing claims made about the items and the dosage of specialty ingredients. In fact, more often than not, a hemp CBD product will need a supplement label.

When going the supplement label route, follow the FDA labeling regulations for dietary supplements.

Don’t mess up the front

The most important part of labeling—and the most often done incorrectly—is the front of the package. The display panel must include some vital pieces of information:

  • The net weight (volume of the container for liquids), or
  • The count (number of capsules or tablets contained in the bottle)

This requirement differs from products sold in marijuana dispensaries. Therefore, if you’re selling your product only in-state, it’s appropriate to go by that state’s labeling laws. Otherwise, you’ll need to follow the federal rules.

Another required piece of information that must appear on the front display panel of the label is the statement of identity. This could be “hemp extract supplement,” “herbal supplement,” “dietary supplement,” or something similar.

You may want to call out the amount of a nutrient, such as 15 mg CBD per serving, on the front of the package. This is allowed, but the amount must match the facts panel information on the back of the label.

Identify the parts

If you’ve identified dietary supplement on the front, the back of the package requires a Supplement Facts panel. For herbal products (not foods) you’ll need to identity the part(s) of the plant used—the parts of the hemp plant in this case. This should be indicated as the total amount of hemp extract or oil (in milligrams) per serving. Otherwise, the product will appear to be an isolate if you are only declaring the amount of CBD per serving in the facts panel. For clarity, you have the option here to separate out the cannabidiol (and/or other cannabinoids) and list the amount(s) per serving.

If your product is a food or beverage, you’ll need to use a Nutrition Facts panel on the back. These are slightly different from the Supplements Facts panel, so you should refer to the FDA Food Labeling Guide. The front of the package, however, has relatively the same requirements as a supplement.

Don’t spotlight the CBD

We know “CBD” is sexy, but we suggest you position your product as a hemp or full-spectrum cannabinoid product—not just a CBD product. If you are truly selling a wholistic, full-spectrum hemp plant product, why not call it that?

A more comprehensive focus on hemp and the entourage effect of a full spectrum of cannabinoids will clearly identify and distinguish CBD-containing products from isolated CBD drug products—and keeping health benefits claims to what is acceptable for foods and dietary supplements may reduce the risk of falling into FDA’s enforcing radar.

Furthermore, CBD isolate products (except for topicals) are prohibited at Natural Products Expo.

Follow instructions

If you want to label correctly, follow the FDA’s Labeling Guidance documents for Dietary Supplements and for Foods, when applicable. Refer to these resources for all the labeling requirements.

You may also refer to New Hope Network Standards for our policy on exhibiting and advertising hemp CBD-containing products. And remember, all the other marketing claims you make about your product must also comply with these standards.

Hemp Products Connect directory : Explore and compare responsible hemp and CBD brands and products backed by New Hope Network Standards.