A couple years ago a study was published in the academic journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research that painted a pretty bad picture of orally-administered CBD oil. If you’re unfamiliar with cannabis-derived CBD, one if its main draws (in addition to the fact that it treats dozens of medical ailments) is that, unlike THC, it doesn’t produce a high.
The article, however, presented pretty clear-cut data showing that when taken orally (by mouth), digestive processes in the stomach actually turns CBD into psychoactive THC at a fairly alarming rate. This was shocking news to both medical marijuana users and the cannabis industry alike, as one of the primary draws to the medication was that, like we said, it wasn’t supposed to produce a high.
However, experts in the field almost immediately did a double-take on the study, and said ‘hold on a second, something’s not quite right here.’
As it turns out the study that produced the results was run by a research team employed by Zynerba Pharmaceuticals – a brand who, coincidentally enough, were developing a transdermal (through the skin) CBD patch at the time of the investigation.
In case you’re failing to put two and two together, transdermal CBD patches and orally-administered CBD oils are drastically different from one another because in the case of the former (the transdermal patch), the CBD doesn’t have to travel through the stomach – it’s absorbed right into the blood through the skin.
By publishing the results that showed how CBD transformed into THC in the stomach, the company was implementing an effort to promote their CBD patch. Obviously, the public wasn’t going to want to be taking a “non-psychoactive” oil that got them high as soon as it was digested.
Also, it’s worth noting that the information referenced to publish the initial study was some 50 years old. A famous Israel cannabis scientist had observed back in 1968 that CBD had a tendency to morph into THC when mixed with highly acidic solution, and so it was assumed that the same chemical reaction would take place in the human stomach, which is also acidic.
Now granted, the results published in the journal were certainly not fabricated – it is true that a tiny amount of active CBD compound does turn into THC during the digestive process. However, the trace amounts that are produced are almost immediately excreted as urine – they have no psychoactive effects on the body whatsoever.
While this is just one particular instance of marijuana being highly misrepresented in the cannabis industry, the sad truth is that it’s a common occurrence that happens almost every single day. Given the largely unregulated nature of the weed business, the general population is exposed to false information like this all the time, and are none the wiser. In this article, we’ll try and guide you as to how to pick out the good information from the bad, and also showcase a few other scary examples along the way.
Some Think the Federal Government is the Poster Child for Cannabis Misinformation
Businesses certainly aren’t the only entities that have been accused of misrepresenting cannabis with false information. One of the biggest and most obvious examples of deception, whether deliberate or not, lies in the hands of the U.S. Government, who currently holds a patent on CBD for use in a variety of medical conditions.
The big misinformation lies in the fact that they portray the drug to the public as being dangerous and addictive with no medical uses (this is actually the definition of a Schedule I substance, which marijuana currently is under federal law), when in fact the truth couldn’t be farther from the opposite; literally thousands of studies have proven the far ranging medicinal uses of weed, and many others have shown through clinical trials that CBD has virtually no addictive tendencies.
In fact, in fall of 2017 the World Health Organization (WHO) issued definitive statements to governments worldwide that CBD is a “safe, well tolerated [substance that’s] not associated with any significant adverse public health effects.” Moreover, they noted the proven health benefits of the 100% natural cannabis compound, and declared that it is “not associated with abuse potential, does not induce physical dependence, [and] is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile.”
When the government defines cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic with no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse, yet the World Health Organization comes right out and declares pretty much the exact opposite, that right there is pretty much the definition of false information.
Moreover, it’s no secret that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s recent diatribes regarding marijuana legalization have largely been based on “cherry-picked information” that is “unreliable, misleading, and inaccurate.”
Sessions has been using information from the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) to condemn legalized states like Washington and Colorado, with claims that their recreational legalization has all but devastated economies.
In fact, some of the data taken from HIDTA was used to produce a high-profile op-ed article in U.S. Today entitled “Marijuana Devastated Colorado, Don’t Legalize it Nationally.”
However, representatives in the states were quick to lash out against Sessions and the “garbage reports” that were produced by HIDTA. Attorney General Bob Ferguson, for example, has been quoted as saying, “I was disappointed by Attorney General Sessions’ letter, which relies on incomplete, inaccurate and out-of-date information on the status of Washington’s marijuana regulations.”
Moreover, Washington Governor Jay Inslee also issued public comment, saying that the information was “unreliable” and “inaccurate”: “It is clear that our goals regarding health and safety are in step with the goals [that] Attorney General Sessions has articulated. Unfortunately, he is referring to incomplete and unreliable data that does not provide the most accurate snapshot of our efforts since the marketplace opened in 2014.”
When you can’t even trust your own government to produce reliable consumer information to the general public, who can you trust?
False Information also Presents a Major Conundrum To Investors and Businesses
Of course, legislative misinformation and discrepancies between state and federal laws make it awfully difficult (and dangerous) for investors and business to make any sort of headway in an industry that has such a massive and lucrative financial potential.
Dennis Forchic, for example, CEO of Solis Tek (a lighting company in the midst of the cannabis boom), has essentially said that almost no one in the weed industry has a perfectly clear understanding of what exactly is legal, and what is not. He claims that “…misinformation comes from a multitude of places, especially if you’re not in the industry space. In many states business is being transacted before the final laws have been written or fully implemented. [And when you] add in the varying state-by-state laws with the federal regulations on top, it’s confusing at best.”
He also points out how difficult it is even for those business owners and investors who do every bit of due diligence to try and stay within state and federal regulations: “[Even if you] believe you’ve done your due diligence, if the information you’re getting is inaccurate, or is temporarily correct and is taken in the context of how it’s presented, it is [ultimately] inaccurate.”
Some People Believe Misinformation is Rampant in Third Party Lab Testing
Another area where out-and-out false information is believed to be wildly rampant is in third-party lab testing. In case you’re unaffiliated with what third-party lab testing is, it’s basically a way for cannabis product manufacturers to show to the public, in an unbiased way, that their products are “legitimate.”
For instance, a lot of CBD oil manufacturers send samples of their tinctures to unbiased and (supposedly) unaffiliated third-party laboratories to have them prove that their products contain what they say they contain. The labs use complex chemical analysis methods (such as convergence chromatography) to produce a report that shows the presence and concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids in the sample. Once the manufacturer gets the report, they can then stamp it on their products to provide that extra level of legitimacy and authenticity that customers seek.
While this process is great in theory, it’s potential for abuse is incredibly high – what is stopping companies from sending over completely different samples then what they’re actually selling to customers? In other words, why couldn’t they send over a totally legitimate sample, get it approved by the third-party lab, and then go and bottle up a bunch of useless snake oil and sell that to the public with the legitimate “lab-tested” stamp?
It’s a sneaky little technique that, due to the currently unregulated nature of the industry, is likely a lot more rampant than people might realize.
In fact, the federal government has actually caught on to many companies in the last several years and issued Letters of Warning to them for advertising and selling inaccurately labeled products to unsuspecting consumers. They did randomized tests on product samples and found that many contained little to no CBD, even though the tinctures were labeled as “pure CBD oil.”
So how are you to have any idea whether or not the product you’re buying is legitimate?
With the cannabis industry pretty much in an unregulated Wild West state right now, it’s honestly a tough call to make. You just have to do plenty of research and make sure that the brand you’re buying from is reliable, reputable, and has plenty of legitimate quality customer feedback.
What You Can do to Stay in Control of Your News Sources
Really, there’s no perfect way of knowing whether or not the information you read online is legitimate. You can, however, make sure that the outlets you use are reliable news outlets, rather than random sites with no history or credentials.
For instance, every one of the references that we used for this article (find them linked below) were sourced from legitimate news outlets such as The Denver Post, Project CBD, World Health Organization, etc. Unless a website or “news outlet” has valid links to their claims, or unless they reference trusted news reports, there really is no point in taking what you read online as the truth. A lot of people out there have extreme ulterior motives, and they’ll spew out any form of lies and garbage necessary to get their agenda across.
Also, steer clear of unreferenced information that’s published on company websites and/or cannabis manufacturer websites, as the information on many of them is completely unregulated. Here at WayofLeaf, we’re not cannabis product manufacturers and we certainly have no products to sell. We’re just passionate weed enthusiasts who are trying to deliver unbiased, quality information that’s of some value to interested readers.