Back in late 2019 (Yes, that feels like ages ago!) Confidence was approached by a Minnesota based non-profit organization (501(c)(3)) about testing some local CBD products. The Minnesota Hemp Farmers & Manufacturers Association (MHFMA) had become familiar with Confidence Analytics and approached our Operations Director, Pat Reynolds, for some assistance. Matthew Kaiser, MHFMA Program Director, had shared with Pat his frustration, and concern, over CBD label accuracy in the relatively unregulated CBD marketplace. What was in those consumer products that the MHFMA were seeing on the shelves of the retail space? MHFMA wanted to know! And we wanted to help.
Confidence Analytics has long held a deep concern, and commitment, for accurate testing. Accurate testing (and labeling) assists consumers in making informed decisions on all product purchases: from spinach to oatmeal to cannabis. The question: how could MHFMA and Confidence work together?
With aligned values, and a dedication to stringent testing standards, Confidence agreed to partner with MHFMA in providing results on a variety of hemp and CBD products. (Yes, I am tooting our horn! I am a believer in our company, our team members, and am a witness to values actually lived!) The outcome of that collaboration provided the headline of the June 17, 2020 MHFMA press release: Testing Finds Inconsistent Dosing, Signals Need For Self-Regulation. The compiled Confidence testing results indicated that 64% of the sampled CBD products tested were mislabeled. (Yikes – or not?) The full MHFMA article can be found here. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.
Were the results surprising?
Were the results surprising? No, not really. This was not Confidence’s first rodeo – we have been involved in cannabis testing since 2014 and have participated in several CBD “secret shopper” opportunities investigating CBD label accuracy. (Check out Leafly’s November 2019 Article.) As Pat said, “This isn’t the first time we have been asked to do this and [it] probably won’t be the last…. [However] ‘Minnesota’ were the first people that we actually donated the testing to… because that’s… how much importance… we place behind this message getting out there….” The message of course – is the information depicted on the label indicative of what’s actually in the product? Pat further recognized: “the purpose of exercises like this are not … to catch how, or point fingers at, the people, the producers, the manufacturers, [or] the businesses that are creating the products that were tested… because… I honestly don’t believe that any of these people are doing anything maliciously.”
I asked Pat, what do you think of the results? Pat weighed in on the lack of federal leadership and regulation – and how that contributes to a CBD marketplace of inaccurate results and unreliable CBD label accuracy. “[T]he purpose … [of] these exercise[s]… is to highlight the fact that there are no regulations [or] that the regulations are patchwork. That states are being left to figure it out on their own just like they are with the Coronavirus testing with no guidance and no leadership from the federal government.”
Is it Only a Minnesota Problem?
Are the Minnesota results representative of the hemp market nationally or a Minnesota problem? Reviewing the MHFMA Press Release, the Leafly Article and other news sources (including a local Seattle King 5 News Investigative piece) – there certainly are inaccuracies in testing which lead to concerns over CBD label accuracy. Pat continued, “Absolutely this is not a Minnesota issue.” He continued. “The government hasn’t stepped in to regulate. So… it’s really, really hard for people to figure out [standards] especially when… there is no central regulation, state regulation – [they] look at the state regulations and they get confused. What are people supposed to do?”
What are businesses supposed to do?
Well said Pat! What are CBD companies to do? Well, to begin with, organizations like MHFMA’s project regarding accurate CBD labeling, which helps promote to consumers the issues, is crucial. Education – education – education. Hopefully, that awareness will lead to government regulation and reform. In the meanwhile, organizational collaboration and self-policing is crucial.
Hopefully the MHFMA gets some traction and exposure in the Hemp and CBD space. Encouraging all stakeholders – from other non-profits to growers to manufacturers to consumers – to get involved is crucial. Consumer pressure can potentially help create, and drive, a “trickle-up” effect – that CBD players recognize, and can address what the consumer wants.
Accurate labeling is imperative! Confidence remains committed to providing professional and meticulous testing results. We pride ourselves on focusing on the science of the numbers.