5 Questions Articles Reviews Skunk Magazine


This was the pitch. I’ve included it here because it offers the framework for a topic that I used to write about but stopped. Why? And what was it? It was CBD derived from hemp.

Photo Credit: Leafreport

The reason is pretty simple. Most CBD sold around the globe is no more than snake oil; quack medicine sold in gas stations as a cure-all. This topic is really not worthy of my time. Thus, I stopped writing about health products and got rich, quick CBD multi-level marketing scam products that may or may not do anything.

I turned down pitch after pitch because there really are no rules in CBD.

Why are rules important?

Well, look at the alcohol industry for an example. There are no rules in rum, for instance. You can do almost anything to it, from adding a hundred grams of sugar to caramel coloring that fools the drinker into thinking that dark rum is old rum. It’s not old, only colored and sweetened.

When was the last time that you saw an ingredient label on a bottle of rum or any spirits for that matter?

Wait, that sounds like the CBD business! No transparency.

Where was it grown, and what kind of nutrients were used? Is it toxic when smoked? All unknowns.

Here’s to transparency in CBD testing. Cheers!

Photo Credit: Leafreport

Hi Warren,

After reading a few of your CBD-related articles, I think you’ll find this research interesting. Could you believe that 1 out of 4 CBD products was NOT tested for microbial content, pesticides, or heavy metals? reviewed 2946 CBD products from 136 CBD brands in terms of purity and potency testing. It turns out that what is advertised and what CBD products actually contain are completely different.

Here is the full research.

Some interesting findings:

Only 13% of brands tested almost all of their products for purity testing, checking for microbial content, pesticides, or heavy metals

25% of brands reviewed didn’t carry out any purity testing at all.

84% of potency-tested products didn’t measure within the acceptable variance of up to 10%.

Only 42% of brands test almost all of their products for potency (90%-100%) and share their third-party lab results with consumers.

Spokesperson Gal Shapira, Product Manager at Leafreport, says, “Lack of transparency in CBD industry is a real issue for consumers. They are being fooled on a daily basis by brands and advertisers. This is the reason we invested $25,000 in this market research to bring more clarity to the CBD industry and protect consumers from false CBD products.”

Is this something you would be interested in covering?

If you need more information, feel free to get in touch.

How could I say no? Knowledge in CBD? Good luck with that until recently.

Photo Credit: Leafreport

Please tell me about yourself? Where are you from? What brought you to the cannabis (CBD) space? Curiosity? Health?

I was born in Russia and moved to Vancouver, Canada, when I was 12. I’ve always been interested in writing and started doing small online freelance writing gigs in 2010. I have an Associate of Arts degree in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Geography.

After finishing university in 2015, I decided to go into freelance writing full-time. I got an ongoing gig writing articles about dietary supplements based on published research studies. It was a good fit because I’ve always been interested in health and have tried many supplements.

That’s how I discovered CBD in 2017. It was a new supplement that had a lot of hype around it but not a lot of good information. I tried it out and was impressed by its anxiety, sleep, workout recovery, and overall health effects.

I started reading studies about CBD, writing articles, trying products and decided to specialize in writing about CBD. I’ve written dozens of evidence-based CBD articles for Leafreport.

Please tell me about your philosophy on clarity and transparency in the CBD industry. What are the best practices? Why is CBD sold in gas stations?

Although the FDA has sent warning letters to CBD companies that make unsubstantiated health claims or sell substandard products, by and large, the CBD industry is unregulated.

Photo Credit: Leafreport

That’s why third-party testing done by independent, accredited laboratories is so important in the CBD industry. It’s essentially a form of self-regulation that assures consumers that CBD products actually contain what’s advertised and are free of potential contaminants.

The first thing I always check when reviewing CBD products and brands is third-party testing. Are the tests publicly available? Are they up to date? Are they done by a reputable lab? Are both potency (levels of cannabinoids) and contaminant (pesticides, residual solvents, etc.) test results present?

This gives you a pretty good idea of whether the CBD brand is reputable and trustworthy. Of course, there are many other best practices as well. For example, it’s always best when brands are vertically integrated, meaning they grow the hemp, extract it, and make the finished CBD products themselves.

CBD is sold in gas stations because it’s a popular health and wellness product. But these products tend to be of low quality because they’re often made by shady companies that don’t provide third-party test results or even have a website.

Who is responsible for policing the labeling of CBD products in the United States? What is permitted on the labeling?

The FDA is responsible for regulating the labeling and packaging of cannabis products. But technically speaking, the FDA doesn’t currently consider CBD products as dietary supplements and doesn’t allow them to be sold as such. That’s because CBD is used as an ingredient in a pharmaceutical drug approved by the FDA (Epidiolex). So, this creates a strange situation where CBD products are obviously being sold as dietary supplements even though the FDA is technically against that.

As far as I’m aware, the FDA has not released any specific labeling requirements for CBD products. Instead, CBD product manufacturers are following the established labeling rules for dietary supplements, which include showing the amount of the active ingredient, ingredients list, name and location of the manufacturer, supplement facts panel, and so on. Another rule is that they cannot make any health claims that their product can treat any disease or related symptom.

I hear it all the time that CBD is a cure-all, yet there is very little in the way of regulation on what can and cannot be stated on the label; who is the governing body?

CBD is not a cure-all. But the reason it gets that reputation is that over 9,000 studies of CBD have been published to date, suggesting a myriad of potential benefits for everything from inflammation and pain to neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s. But most of CBD’s potential benefits need higher-quality evidence (placebo-controlled clinical trials) before we know for certain.

In terms of health claims, those are regulated by the FDA and FTC. The FDA mostly regulates claims on product labels, while the FTC regulates claims in advertising. Dietary supplement manufacturers are not allowed to make claims that their products can help with any health condition or disease (with the exception of approved health claims, which require high-quality research and official authorization from the FDA).

Even though the FDA does not currently consider CBD products to be dietary supplements, it still treats them as such in terms of health claims. That’s why the FDA regularly sends out warning letters to CBD companies that sell misleading products or make unauthorized claims that their products can treat symptoms of related conditions, like saying that their CBD oil can help with cancer or treat insomnia.

What is your passion?

I’m passionate about improving my health and helping others do the same through safe, natural, time-tested methods. That’s why I was immediately drawn to CBD — it’s natural, non-intoxicating, has little to no side effects even with daily use, and has been used for its health benefits for thousands of years as a component of cannabis.

I exercise and practice meditation and intermittent fasting daily, in addition to taking herbal supplements like CBD and ashwagandha. I’ve read thousands of studies about CBD and other supplements and enjoy breaking down what I learn into simple language that helps others improve their health naturally.