After examining e-liquids and synthetic cannabinoids for about 10 years, Poklis said, he’s become quite familiar with the kinds of synthetic products on offer and the ways they’re promoted on packaging and in advertisements. Poklis recalled the psychedelic packaging on early K2 products labelled “not for human consumption” and ordering samples from sites like IAmStoned.com.
Following the study’s release in November, Diamond CEO Kevin Hagen told Consumer Reports that the company planned to retest its current products and recall them if needed. “The company strives to provide the assurance that we supply the best, highest-quality products on the market,” he said.
“For years, many of the producers of these commercially available products have navigated in a grey area of the law — manufacturing products of variable and sometimes questionable quality and safety,” he said in an email. “Given both the popularity and prominence of these products in the marketplace, it is time for lawmakers to develop and impose best manufacturing practices and standards for this nascent industry — policies that will ultimately lead to a safer and better-quality product for consumers.”
Diamond CBD is far from the only e-liquid seller to face scrutiny in recent years. Yet due in part to the lack of state or federal regulation over such products, companies flagged for selling contaminated CBD are generally able to continue business as usual.
Chemicals 101: A closer look at cannabin-ish molecules
In the case of Diamond CBD, Poklis said his team saw no such clues on the company’s website or product packaging—part of the reason the study’s findings were “unexpected,” he said. “If someone who is interested in trying CBD for health reasons goes to a site and thinks it seems like a legitimate provider, and that turns out not to be the case, this is problematic.”
“Uninformed users may mistakenly associate these [chemicals’] effects with CBD,” the researchers wrote. “The inclusion of these drugs in e-liquids can lead to dangerous consequences; particularly when the users are unaware, and [consuming these products] for therapeutic reasons.”
In a phone interview this week, Hagen told Leafly that Diamond did indeed retest the products featured in the study and found with no sign of either DXM or 5F-ADB in the results. He said the samples in the Virginia study seemed to be purchased in 2017, when formulas were different.
Is industry growth outpacing safety?
The market for cannabidiol products in the US is booming. But as CBD surges in popularity—it’s now advertised in drug stores, gas stations, and even cocktail bars—lab tests suggest that other chemicals are creeping in, creating the potential for a real public health risk.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML), told Leafly that previous studies on consumer e-liquids have turned up similarly unexpected and potentially dangerous chemicals, highlighting what he said was a need for both government regulation and extreme care on the part of patients and consumers.
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What Is Strongest, Fastest Cbd Oil For Pain?
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CBD can be taken many ways, and one is by vaping it in an e-cigarette with a CBD e-liquid. People buy these vaping liquids in stores, and also in a growing number of online retailers.
Screenshot from Diamond CBD’s website
Finding the synthetic marijuana and dextromethorphan was unexpected and alarming, Peace says. “People are going to a website that claims purity, all-natural, nothing synthetic,” she tells me. “People are going on there who are looking for alternative therapies for seizures or pain, so they are health-compromised and they don't know that these products are potentially adulterated. There's no indication. There's no warning about it on the website. There are no reviews from users that say anything."
Everything You Need to Know About K2, the Dangerous Weed Knockoff
Peace and her colleagues bought the same two products their caller had taken, Liquid Gold Strawberry and Diamond CBD Vape Additive, and seven more to test. They purchased them directly from diamondcbd.com. They analyzed the ingredients using Direct Analysis in Real Time Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS) and Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS)—both powerful and validated methods of separating and identifying chemicals.
Taking synthetic marijuana alone is more harmful than taking it in conjunction with CBD—the latter can dampen some of the effects of the former, Hill says. “That's why we see so many people having so many problems with synthetics [alone],” he adds. “They will become psychotic, they could have hallucinations, things of that sort.”
Everything We Know About the Health Risks of Vaping CBD
Diamond CBD did not respond after multiple attempts for comment. In an article from earlier this month, Consumer Reports wrote:
It’s relatively common to find THC in CBD products, including vape liquids, says Kevin Hill, an addiction psychiatrist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. A paper from 2017 in The Journal of the American Medical Association looked at a variety of online CBD products and found that only 30 percent were labeled to match what was actually in them. Some had more or less CBD than advertised, and some had additional compounds. 21 percent also had THC in them. This could have an important impact, for example, on a drug test taken for employment.