The CBD oil market is a rapidly growing and expanding one, mainly due to more permissive legislation around the U.S. No doubt questionable companies are producing cheap or fake CBD oil products in a bid to cash in on the lucrative cannabinoid oil market. However, their products are poorly produced with inferior ingredients that will not live up to the excellent reputation of pure CBD oil.
Recently in the news were the CBD oil products that made many people sick in Utah between October 2017 and January 2018. They were so affected that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opened an investigation. How could something as benign as cannabinoid oil be causing widespread illness? The adverse effects were severe and many users called Utah’s Poison Control Center with reports of hallucinations, confusion, and seizures. It turned out that the products were not the real thing, as advertised, but fake CBD oil. 
The most recent research on CBD oil reported only positive things about the compound, including its low risk of side effects. Yet, the majority of these studies were undertaken in a laboratory or clinical setting, and with 100 percent pure product, not fake CBD oil.
Today, there are over 850 known CBD companies out there, and those are only the companies with an online presence. Many businesses continue to operate under the radar, perhaps to avoid unwanted negative attention. 
As reported by the CDC, 52 people became sick after ingesting fake CBD oil in Utah. Their symptoms included hallucinations, seizures, and general confusion. Other people have reported that it made them feel high, a psychoactive sensation not associated with pure natural CBD oil.
What was in the products consumed by the people in Utah that caused an a-typical CBD experience? Or are these new, previously unreported CBD oil dangers? After an extensive investigation, the CDC discovered that there was no CBD in any of the products tested. Instead, they contained a synthetic cannabinoid called 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA, or 4-CCB. Many of the tested products were labeled under the brand named ‘Yolo CBD oil’.
This synthetic compound, 4-CCB, was initially made in Europe. Symptoms of sickness or extreme psychoactive experiences were reported after users took a product called Spice (also called K-2). Spice contains 4-CCB, and is a fake cannabis product that now has a reputation for triggering these severe side effects. The CDC has found the same artificial cannabinoid in the fake CBD oil products.
As reported by online news platform, Gizmodo, Robert Horth from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service said, “Synthetic cannabinoids, such as 4-CCB, act on the same receptors as THC, but the effects of synthetic cannabinoids can be unpredictable and severe or even life-threatening. Based on reported side effects of 4-CCB in case-patients, they appear to be more severe than THC. Fatalities following use of 4-CCB have been reported in Europe.”
The CDC is now urging state regulations “to minimize the risk for recurrences of this emerging public health threat," via stricter management of the CBD oil market. If states do nothing to regulate the market, unscrupulous companies can include any ingredients that they want, producing CBD products however they want. This increases the risk of further CBD oil dangers. 
Until there is full federal oversight of CBD oil production in the U.S., consumers need to do some personal investigation to identify fake CBD oil. While some states do have better regulations regarding production and labeling requirements, the truth of the matter is that most CBD oil is still purchased online and shipped over state lines.
Before taking any new CBD oil product, consider the following questions:
If you bought the CBD oil from a proper medical dispensary, the brand is much more likely to have already been vetted. If you see CBD products sold at a tobacco shop, gas station, or another a-typical location, be wary.
That said, even dispensaries seemed to have been duped by fake CBD oil companies. In Utah, the CDC uncovered that some of the fake CBD came from dispensaries. Location of purchase is only one step in sourcing pure, quality CBD oil.
If you can’t find any information about a company online, that says something about the reputation of the company. Look for brands with well established, reputable websites. A brand should post extensive information about each of their products online, including ingredients, production process, and lab results. Their customer service should also reply promptly to any questions you may have.
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A reputable company will have nothing to hide about the contents of their CBD oil, and laboratory test results will be readily available to the public. Fake CBD oil products typically won’t even have an ingredient listing, let alone any test results. Lab results should also be recent and list all chemical compounds and toxicity.
Real, all-natural, plant-based CBD oil has an excellent side-effect safety profile. As reported in a recent review on the subject, “In general, the often described favorable safety profile of CBD in humans was confirmed and extended by the reviewed research [...] Here, the most commonly reported side effects were tiredness, diarrhea, and changes of appetite/weight. In comparison with other drugs, used for the treatment of these medical conditions, CBD has a better side effect profile.” 
The authors do make note that some areas of concern regarding CBD oil usage remain, and these require further study. But for those not willing to wait for the conclusions of the scientific community, you can reduce your risk of exposure to fake CBD oil and its associated dangers by sourcing high-quality products. Real CBD oil has demonstrated its efficacy to many and is generally thought to be safe to use. However, never take a CBD oil for any health condition before consulting with your healthcare professional.
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