About a decade ago, a new type of drug that mimicked the effects of marijuana started to become wildly popular. It appeared to be a ground up mixture of plant material, could be purchased at many local gas stations and head shops, delivered a euphoric high when smoked, and best of all: it didn’t show up in a standard drug test. It had many names, including “spice,” “k-2,” or “potpourri,” among a host of different brand names, each with its own flavor of branding and packaging. Some made claims of being “all-natural,” to make the consumer picture something akin to cannabis, while others blatantly ripped off children’s cartoon characters in an attempt to market themselves to a much more fragile demographic. Eventually, law enforcement and legislators caught on to the game that was being played. Local and state laws were amended, new laws were passed, and enforcement was expanded in order to combat the sale and use of these products. Still, even after such measures were taken, synthetic cannabinoids continue to pose a risk to the health and safety of citizens. Just last year, hundreds were hospitalized from complications linked to the use of synthetic cannabinoids. While the majority of these hospitalizations are linked to people using “spice” as a way to get high, synthetic cannabinoids have found their way into the CBD industry as well. A report from the CDC details the acute poisoning of 52 individuals in Utah during 2017-2018. Of those, 34 were classified as “confirmed cases” and many had been using what was thought to be a CBD product, labeled “YOLO CBD oil.” While the “CBD oil” in question contained no CBD, it did contain the synthetic cannabinoid 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA (also known as 4-CCB). While incidents like this may be considered rare, a JAMA report from 2017 showed that only about 30% of CBD products purchased online may be accurately labeled. Many of these inaccuracies can be attributed to the levels of CBD being either higher or lower than advertised per the label, however, with this much of a discrepancy, it can be hard to know exactly what you are buying. According to information gathered by the Hemp Business Journal, several companies are selling products containing synthetic CBD without disclosing the fact to their customers. As reported, these are “high profile companies in the state of Colorado.” This means that many users of CBD oil, maybe even yourself included, could be consuming synthetic cannabinoids and not even know it. Many people in the industry even want to push CBD into the realm of only synthetics. It is seen as a cost effective way for producers to meet the demands of the market (I would add that its “cost effectiveness” is probably determined by whether or not you have millions in start up capital and/or connections within the pharmaceutical industry). Even if this were the case, a move to synthetic only CBD would not only create a monopoly belonging to those aforementioned individuals (the ones with the millions of dollars in start up capital and pharmaceutical industry connections) but it would all be based upon the unfounded premise that synthetic CBD is safe. While cannabis, hemp, and their many naturally occurring cannabinoids have been under-studied due to State and Federal laws, synthetic cannabinoids and their long term effects have been studied even less. There very well could be unknown, long term health risks associated with the use of synthetic CBD. Even the recently FDA approved drug Epidiolex, which is actually derived from cannabis, comes with a lengthy list of possible side effects and complications, including: tiredness, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, diarrhea, depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or other mental/mood problems. Excluding the substantially rare circumstances of either a cannabis allergy (which, minus a hemp seed food allergy or general allergy to pollen producing plants, may not even exist) or a predisposition to psychosis or schizophrenia, these side effects are not consistent with the use of cannabis, let alone industrial hemp or CBD products containing either .3% THC or no THC. Epidiolex itself does not contain THC, with CBD being the only "active ingredient." Ask yourself, when has using hemp derived CBD products ever caused you to have trouble sleeping, diarrhea, or suicidal thoughts? Even though the active ingredient, CBD, in Epidiolex is derived from cannabis, its accompanying list of possible side effects and complications have big pharma written all over it. This should give pause to any consumer of CBD products and begs the question, "Is this the future of CBD?"
This, combined with what we do know about synthetic cannabinoids, should be reason enough to avoid synthetic CBD and CBD companies who do not use hemp-derived CBD extract in their CBD products. I can proudly say that we here at Forge Creek Original Hemp Co. use CBD extract from U.S. grown sources of hemp in our CBD products. We believe in hemp and hemp derived CBD, not synthetic cannabinoids or “semi-synthetic” cannabinoids created in a lab using orange peels or yeast. But this isn’t a product pitch, this is us getting the word out. Whichever CBD products or manufacturers you choose, be sure to demand only the highest quality, hemp derived CBD available. If the CBD products you are currently using do not contain CBD derived from hemp, I suggest you ditch them. There are a multitude of reputable vendors providing safe, hemp-derived CBD products for consumers to purchase; we just happen to be one of them.