Right now, there’s a good chance that you don’t really know what you’re getting from any source. Testing and labeling rules vary by state, but many states that allow legal cannabis also require some kind of testing to verify that the THC and CBD levels listed on the label are accurate. However, this testing is controversial, and results can vary widely between labs, Jikomes said. A study published in March found measurable variations in test results, with some labs consistently reporting higher or lower levels of cannabinoids than others. There are no guarantees that the label accurately reflects what’s in the product. For a 2015 study published in JAMA, researchers tested 75 products purchased in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle and found that only 17 percent were accurately labeled. More than half of the products contained significantly lower levels of cannabinoids than the label promised, and some of them contained only negligible amounts of the compounds. “We need to come up with ways to confidently verify the composition of cannabis products and make this information available to consumers,” Jikomes said.
Success stories like Oliver’s are everywhere, but there’s not a lot of data to back up those results. That’s because CBD comes from cannabis and, like nearly all other parts of the plant, is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) as a Schedule 1 drug—the most restrictive classification. (Others on that list: heroin, Ecstasy, and peyote.) This classification, which cannabis advocates have tried for years to change, keeps cannabis-derived products, including CBD, from being properly studied in the U.S.