Regulated, quality CBD products tested in Virginia are only available through the Commonwealth Medical Marijuana Program and accessible at a dispensary. All other CBD products are unregulated and therefore consumers have no way of knowing which products are safe to consume. The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees and regulates the production of hemp, which is used to make CBD products.
However, Peace said, the agency does not have regulations in place to govern the quality of consumable hemp / CBD products like flowers and edibles that are made outside of the marijuana program for the purposes of medical. The agency, she added, does not have the resources and staff to monitor the quality of CBD or CBD-derived products.
“What we have demonstrated time and time again is that very few Certificates of Analysis for CBD products are correct,” she said. “We know that in some labs nationwide, they never even opened the package that was sent to them. They just make up the [certificate of analysis] or copy it from another product. Often times, the QR code on a product label will take you to the certificate of an entirely different product. Laboratories should be required to be properly accredited and the entire cannabis ecosystem should be transparent.
“At the end of the day, it’s a consumer safety issue,” Peace said. “For the most part, people are unaware of what they are buying and cannot make informed decisions about what to eat.”
Develop better identification methods
On a recent afternoon in the Peace lab, Amanda Moses Ferreira used a scalpel to remove a small sample of a crispy cinnamon treat drizzled with frosting believed to contain synthetically produced delta-8. Ferreira, a scientist in the chemistry department of a forensic laboratory in Trinidad and Tobago, analyzed samples at VCU as part of a Hubert H. Humphrey fellowship to learn more about the technical methods of identification of emerging psychoactive substances.
“With the decriminalization of cannabis [in Trinidad and Tobago], we’re starting to see a lot more edibles and more and more people using cannabis in other forms, including e-cigarettes or e-liquids, ”she said. “And I know we’ve seen a lot more cases of school kids using this type of product.”