CBD oil derived from hemp has exploded on the US online market over the past few years. With the fast-moving growth of new hemp oil products and companies, it can be a challenging task for consumers to determine a hemp product's safety and source of origin. What may surprise you is that the majority of all CBD products sold in the US contain hemp sourced abroad. CBD sold in the US may have originated from China, South America, Canada, India, or Eastern Europe.
CBD that comes from US-grown hemp is considered to be the "Gold Standard" of all CBD products sold domestically. Federal oversight of US hemp growers ensures certain conditions are met during the cultivation and growing process. Unfortunately, the same level of oversight cannot be guaranteed from growers overseas. Sourcing CBD from hemp cultivated entirely within the US ensures a safer consumer end-product.
Why Sourcing Hemp From Overseas Is Risky
A vast majority of hemp products, including CBD, sold in the US are manufactured from imported hemp sources. It is estimated that about 70% of all hemp products sold in the US comes from China. Other large-scale hemp suppliers to the US market include Romania, Hungary, and India. A majority of the hemp seed oil (used for culinary and beauty purposes) imported into the country comes from Canada.
The importation of finished-good hemp oil products is problematic due to the lack of knowledge on the hemp's lifecycle, from seed to bottle.
How was the hemp grown? What were the conditions of the soil? Were pesticides used to treat the crops? Was the extraction facility a sterile environment? Where was the product bottled? Was it in a GMP or ISO facility? Were there any lab tests conducted to test for cannabinoid count, THC presence, contaminants, or toxins?
These questions are all variables that can significantly impact a product's quality and safety.
Overseas growers and manufacturers are not subject to any state or federal testing to ensure certain health and safety measures are met. Products grown and produced abroad can be freely imported into the US without consumers having any knowledge of the growing and manufacturing process.
Another troubling fact about sourcing hemp oil from abroad is that overseas growers frequently use hemp as "cover crops." Cover crops use the strategic planting of hemp crops as a bioremediation method to detoxify the soil of contaminants, like pesticides and heavy metals. Overseas growers may use hemp to clean the ground soil so that they can plant food crops in the same plot as their next crop. US-based companies may then import these hemp plants and extract the oil to use for CBD. The same hemp plants that have been used to leach toxins out of the soil are manufactured into CBD products in the US and sold to unknowing consumers. Many of the companies selling these products do not offer lab reports to their customers. The public has no idea what they may or may not be ingesting.
In 2019, Ellipse Analytics, an independent testing agency, tested the top-selling CBD products in the US to screen for contaminants and for "truth in labeling." After thousands of tests, 70% of products were found to be highly contaminated with a host of toxins, including toxic mold, BPA, glyphosate (the active ingredient of RoundUp), arsenic, and lead. More than half of the samples tested were incorrectly labeled and had far lower levels of CBD than what was listed on the packaging. After his findings, Dr. Sean Callan of Ellipse Analytics notes that "You have an industry that has a rampant quality control issue.¹"
USA Hemp Oil
There's no doubt that the 700 billion dollar agricultural hemp industry is booming in the states. But a large portion of this domestic boom exists only as a result of foreign hemp importation. Even federally sanctioned US-based hemp growers may still choose to have raw materials, such as seeds, imported into the US to begin their crops. Manufacturers of finished-good hemp products like CBD oil are more likely to have imported some or all of the ingredients from abroad.
The good news is that there are some high-quality CBD products made from hemp that is 100% cultivated and grown within the USA— but these companies remain as outliers.
What to Look For in a CBD Product
The following checklist can help get you started on choosing a reliable and safely-produced product:
- When checking companies' websites, look for USA grown hemp only. States that have robust hemp growing programs include Colorado, California, Kentucky, or Oregon. Many of these states have provisions for pesticide use and perform field checks to screen for THC levels.
- Look for a product that was extracted using CO2. Many CBD companies extract the oil from the plant using solvents or alcohols, and these chemicals may show up in the finished product. Especially if you plan on purchasing an ingestible CBD, it’s important that the CBD was extracted using a non-toxic method like Supercritical CO2 extraction.
- Only purchase a product that has a COA. A COA is a certificate of analysis (also called a "lab report") that summarizes the contents of the product. The COA will show the total CBD amount, the levels of THC present, and the presence of contaminants. It is important that the COA is issued by a third-party lab, and not by the company itself.
- Look into the manufacturing process. Reputable manufacturers should follow the FDA's guidance for good manufacturing practices. Is the manufacturing facility GMP certified? These facilities are regularly inspected by the FDA and must uphold strict procedures that meet the FDA’s stringent requirements.
- Has the company been in business for more than 3 years? With new companies cropping up every day trying to cash in on the popularity of CBD, it's important that a company is established. New companies may try to cut corners and generally do not have the experience or reputation that other well-established companies have earned over the years.
- Read the label. Dishonest marketing in the industry has become a big problem. Some companies have gone as low as trying to fool consumers into thinking that CBD exists in a product when it does not. The label may read "hemp seed oil" or "hemp seed extract” and marketed as if it were CBD. When in reality, these extracts do not contain any of the active ingredient. Hemp seed oil is a culinary oil resembling olive oil and contains no CBD.
- Make sure the label specifies if the product is Full-Spectrum, or CBD isolate. Both contain CBD, but full-spectrum includes all of the hemp plant's beneficial constituents, including a small amount of THC (<0.3%, the legal limit), terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids. A responsibly labeled product will specify if it is either Full-Spectrum or THC Free (an isolate).
The HempLand USA Production Process
HempLand USA has proudly produced high-quality hemp oil entirely in the USA since 2014. We have longstanding partnerships with our networks of organic hemp farms in Colorado and California. Careful attention is given to every stage of cultivation to ensure the quality of our final product.
Once harvested, our raw material is further subjected to quality testing before being sent to our Supercritical CO2 extraction facility. Our extraction method gently removes the CBD from the plant's aerial parts using no harsh chemicals or solvents.
After we have extracted our CBD-rich hemp oil, it is again rigorously tested for impurities and contaminants.
We then blend our CBD-rich hemp oil extract with organic cold-pressed hemp seed oil, and it becomes our premium line of CBD products named CANNABITOL®. Finally, we bottle CANNABITOL® at our state-of-the-art GMP manufacturing facility.
We firmly believe that our production capabilities and total dedication to quality control sets HempLand® USA apart from all other producers of hemp oil products.