If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely interested in CBD, and want to take advantage of the potential health and wellness benefits. Whether you want to use CBD to alleviate anxiety, reduce pain and inflammation, or for any other reason, you might be wondering how exactly to pick a safe, high quality CBD product. It often seems like CBD is everywhere, from your local pharmacy and gas station to big box stores or online retailers. Brandy(Green Wellness Life Founder & Former Owner) even saw it in a local thrift store.
In 2018, the Farm Bill legalized the growth and sale of hemp in the United States. This led to an explosion in the number of CBD products on the market, as companies could now buy hemp and use it to make CBD. However, while the production of hemp is tightly regulated, the manufacture and sale of CBD is definitely not.
For consumers, this raises an important question: how can you avoid a CBD scam? If the market is unregulated, then how can you know that what you are getting is actually CBD — or if there is even any CBD in the product? Below, we outline what you need to know about CBD, and how you can avoid a CBD scam.
What Is a CBD Scam?
There are a number of ways that a company might engage in a CBD scam. The most obvious way is to sell a product that contains less than the amount of promised CBD, or perhaps no CBD at all. In other words, you’re paying good money for something that won’t help you.
Along the same lines, you may be purchasing a product that wasn’t tested for harmful chemicals or impurities. Hemp is very porous. If it is grown in contaminated soil, you can end up with a contaminated CBD product. Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate CBD, you can’t rely on the government to make sure that what you are getting is safe or that you are getting what you paid for in a CBD product.
There are a number of other types of CBD scams, used by companies that are hoping to cash in on the CBD boom — at your expense. There are five scams in particular that you should watch out for when shopping for CBD.
Scam #1: “Free” CBD
Be wary of companies that promise you a free bottle of CBD if you just pay the shipping costs. This sounds like a great deal, but is almost always a scam. The way it works is simple: you put in your credit card to pay for shipping. When you check out, you might not notice that you are agreeing to pay a certain amount each month (such as $90) for a CBD “subscription.”
It then becomes incredibly difficult to cancel your subscription, so you are suddenly on the hook for hundreds of dollars worth of CBD that you never wanted. In many cases, the CBD that these companies send you, is of incredibly poor quality. You are then stuck trying to figure out how to get out of this scam.
Typically, the companies make it hard to even find contact information for them, let alone to actually get in contact with them. You may then need to file a “fraud chargeback” through your credit card company or seek help with a consumer protection unit at your state attorney general’s office.
Are subscriptions always scams? Heck no. I get my cleaning supplies and my vitamins on a monthly subscription. In both cases, though, they were very clear about the subscription terms and they are both reputable companies. They also notify me a week before my order ships every month so I can change or cancel as needed. It’s a company that shocks you with reorders and then aren’t available by phone that you need to be concerned with.
Scam #2: Claims that Are Just Too Good to Be True
We know that CBD has a lot of potential to help with a variety of mental and physical ailments, from anxiety to seizures. Yet the research on CBD is still in its preliminary stages. While scientists believe that CBD can benefit humans (and animals!) in a variety of ways, more research is needed to figure out exactly how it works, and how it can help us.
Some companies take advantage of promising research on CBD to make claims that are completely false, or misleading at best. These claims may be related to the quality, potency, or benefits of their products. These tactics can be considered a scam because these companies are essentially lying or exaggerating to get you to buy their product.
For example, a company may claim that its CBD oil has a 100% absorption rate — something that simply isn’t possible for any CBD oil. They may also claim that their CBD can cure specific conditions, such as cancer, when the science doesn’t back it up. In some cases, they may claim that their product contains a certain amount of CBD — which likely isn’t possible because the cost of the product is too low. Just like your mom told you, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Scam #3: Multi-Level Marketing CBD Companies
Multi-level marketing (MLM) companies have a long history in the United States. In some cases, they’re great. Nearly every kitchen gadget I own was purchased through a MLM. The salespeople don’t always make money from selling products, but sometimes from getting others to become salespeople. The people who sign up to work for MLM companies may even lose money, often after being forced to buy hundreds or thousands of dollars in product or to pay for expensive training.
MLM CBD companies can scam both salespeople and consumers alike. The products sold by these businesses may not be of high quality. Many of these companies are typically not focused on making and selling the best CBD products. Instead, they are looking for ways to get more “ambassadors” on board. These individuals then buy up the stock, which fuels the company’s bottom line. If these salespeople do sell CBD, it is usually to their loved ones, who may not be as discerning as they would be if they were buying from a stranger.
For the people who are brought in as sales representatives or ambassadors, selling MLM CBD can be a financial disaster. They may be required to buy a certain amount of product each month. In many cases, the company won’t buy it back when they cannot sell it. We don’t mean to insinuate that all MLMs are scams – they aren’t. Just be sure that the company you’re working with is both knowledgeable and reputable.
Scam #4: Copycat Brands
While CBD is a relative newcomer on the national market, there are a number of brands that have operated for years in states where marijuana is legal. A copycat scam occurs when a company takes the name and branding of an established CBD company in order to trick people into buying products from their website instead. For example, they may set up a website that is a common misspelling of a popular brand. We’ve even had many sites steal the content on our site. We always know, because they’ll leave our links, videos or brand name up, which we can find.
In some cases, these copycat companies will simply take your credit card information and charge you for CBD that is never delivered. Other times, the company will deliver CBD, but it is incredibly poor quality — or it may not even be CBD at all.
Copycat CBD companies rely on the trust that has been built up by a reputable CBD company. When customers search for a particular brand, they may mistakenly click on the copycat’s website. They are then tricked into buying low quality CBD, or signing up for a CBD subscription. When they try to contact the company, they may find that there isn’t a phone number or an email — so getting a refund or cancelling a subscription becomes next to impossible.
Scam #5: CBD Products Listed On Large Marketplaces Like Amazon, Ebay, & Etsy
We’ve talked about this before with our post on why you can’t buy CBD oil on Amazon. Amazon and other major online marketplaces like Ebay have policies that ban selling CBD products on their platform. Even with these restrictions in place, retailers have found a way to list CBD products on the marketplaces under hemp oil instead of CBD oil.
To an unsuspecting consumer, CBD oil and hemp seed oil might appear to be the same thing. After all, CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant. However, when CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant, it is extracted from the whole plant. Hemp seeds, while nutritious, contain insignificant amounts of CBD. Therefore, oil extracted from hemp seeds contains very little CBD. When every product is listed as a hemp oil product on Amazon, you may not be able to distinguish a product made with CBD oil from a product made with hemp seed oil.
There may be some honest products on these marketplaces, but many are scams. Buying CBD in these marketplaces is like taking a shot in the dark, because you don’t know who you’re buying from or what you’re buying. There are boatloads of copycats out there and it’s common for these products to contain no CBD at all and without any posted lab results, you’ll have no way of knowing if the products you’re purchasing are safe. Therefore, it’s best to avoid these marketplaces altogether for now.
Signs of a CBD Scam
So how can you tell if a CBD company is a scam? There are a few signs to look out for when you are shopping for CBD.
“Free trials” of CBD are a red flag. While reputable companies may offer free samples, they won’t offer a free bottle of CBD oil in exchange for shipping costs or subscriptions. If you are interested in trying CBD, opt for paying for a small bottle or package from a well-known company.
If a company doesn’t have contact information on its website — or if the contact information is hidden — it may be a sign that the company is running a CBD scam. A business that stands behind its products should make its contact information readily available. If you’re just not sure, give them a call or send over an email to see if you receive a response from a real human.
Certain marketing terms can be a sign of a CBD scam. This includes phrases such as:
- Purest CBD: the word pure is also not regulated. There are specific terms that describe “pure” CBD, like CBD isolate.
- No side effects: anything that you consume or use has the potential for side effects, including CBD. Products also affect people differently, so no one can guarantee that someone will not experience any side effects. While CBD generally has few side effects, that isn’t the same as “no” side effects.
- CBD Can Cure X: outlandish claims, such as that CBD can cure heart disease, aren’t just misleading — they are also illegal.
Additionally, watch for anything odd or abnormal on the website itself. Perhaps the site has a different domain — like .net instead of .com — or an extra letter, dot, or dash. An unusual checkout process that is different from the standard may also be a red flag. For example, if you don’t have credit card payment method options are asked to instead send a check or pay in Bitcoin, it is likely a sign that the company is a scam.
Avoiding CBD Scams
The best way to avoid CBD scams is to understand how to buy safe, high quality CBD. There are several ways to identify this type of product.
First, only buy CBD that has been independently tested. These third party laboratory results should be available for you to review online so that you can review the CBD content and whether the product contains any other chemicals. If a website or company does not make these results available, avoid them at all costs.
Second, check out the price of the CBD per mg. CBD products typically cost between 0.5 and .20 cents per mg. The price typically increases for higher quality and certain types of items, such as edibles and patches. If a CBD product has a far lower price per mg than similar items elsewhere, it could be because the company is not selling high quality products.
Third, look for the source of the hemp used to make the CBD. You should only buy CBD that was made from industrial hemp grown in the United States or Europe. This will not only ensure the safety of the product, but that it has 0.3% THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) or lower.
Fourth, check out the company itself. Does it have reviews available? Is its return policy on the website? Is its contact information readily available? If not, then you probably want to avoid this company.
Green Wellness Life: A Company You Can Trust
In the world of CBD, it can be hard to know which companies and brands are trustworthy. At Green Wellness Life, we only offer the highest quality CBD products, each of which has been tested by a third party laboratory for quality and purity. All of the products that we offer are made from hemp grown in the United States.