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Fake CBD Oil: Inside the Dangerous New Trend

Fake CBD Oil Cannabis Now
PHOTO Martin Cooper


Fake CBD Oil: Inside the Dangerous New Trend

Thanks to federal prohibition and a lack of consumer awareness, fake CBD oils have been cropping up around America, sickening people in Utah and Tennessee with effects similar to “synthetic marijuana.”

Medical marijuana has been gaining some serious ground over the past few years, especially as mainstream culture has latched on to the cannabidiol (CBD) trend and encouraged what can only be described as a craze over the cannabinoid.

It seems that ever since Dr. Sanjay Gupta showed CNN viewers that CBD, a healing cannabinoid compound in the cannabis plant, has the power to prevent epileptic children from having seizures, American society has been fiending for more news about the all-healing powers of this natural substance.

But as the popularity of any product rises, there is always going to be a despicable underbelly that appears on its tail — a legion of people looking to capitalize on a good thing through scams and outright lies. It’s the American way.  Unfortunately, this riff-raff has started to infect the cannabis scene, selling fake CBD oil to unsuspecting patients.

The Poisonous Effects of Fake CBD Oil

Federal health officials recently published a report indicating that phony CBD products “poisoned” more than 50 people in Utah during the winter months of 2017. Dozens of these individuals were forced to seek emergency medical treatment for side effects synonymous with the momentary flashes of madness typically associated with spice — often referred to as “synthetic marijuana” or K2.

The report, which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that customers thought they were buying cannabis oil from local head shops around the state (or got it from a friend), only to end up sick with a variety of symptoms inconsistent with the effects of CBD. Some of the victims experienced adverse reactions, such as “altered mental status, seizures, confusion, loss of consciousness, and hallucinations,” the report reads.

But unlike the nasty situation involving smokeable forms of spice, these consumers were under the impression that they were buying a legitimate cannabis derivative — not some synthetic chemical that was imitating cannabis to provide a high much different than the plant itself provides. The oil that was sold in Utah was far from what the label suggested. An analysis by the Utah Poison Control Center (UPCC) determined the product was, in fact, consistent with a spice-like substance.

“Nine product samples (including one unopened product purchased by investigators from a store and brand reported by a patient) were found to contain a synthetic cannabinoid, 4-cyano CUMYL-BUTINACA (4-CCB), but no CBD,” reports the CDC. “Eight of the tested products were branded as ‘Yolo CBD oil’ and indicated no information about the manufacturer or ingredients. Blood samples from four of five persons were positive for 4-CCB.”

Prohibition Encourages the Spread of Fake CBD Oil

Sadly, this selling of fake CBD oil is a trend that could end up becoming more widespread in the United States. There have been additional reports float to surface in the past few weeks suggesting that people have gotten sick after using counterfeit CBD. Most recently, a Tennessee woman claims she was poisoned after ingesting what she believed was CBD oil made by Beyond Botanicals. It turns out a local smoke shop has been manufacturing fake CBD oil, packaging it with Beyond Botanicals label and distributing it throughout Memphis, according to WREG, the CBS-affiliate in Memphis.

If you’re asking yourself how someone could get away with this, the answer is simple: marijuana prohibition.

Because the federal government still considers any derivative of the cannabis plant to be an outlaw substance, CBD products can easily skate through the grey areas of the market without a regulatory leash. This is especially true in those states where marijuana is still under a total ban. Although these products are technically illegal, the hemp-based oils — much of what is found through health food stores and other retailers — is not catching much heat from law enforcement. But without regulations, which are becoming more prevalent in CBD-legal states, there is nothing stopping phony products from being sold.

The CDC recommends states work on imposing regulations on CBD products. Otherwise, unsavory cases will likely continue.

“States could consider regulating products labeled as CBD and establishing surveillance systems for illness associated with products labeled as CBD to minimize the risk for recurrences of this emerging public health threat,” the agency concluded in its report.

TELL US, have you seen fake CBD oil in stores?



  1. Alice

    December 27, 2019 at 2:39 am

    CR’s editors offer their picks for the products and services that defined the 2010s. Here’s your chance to vote on your choices.

  2. K A

    July 27, 2019 at 11:29 am

    Hello, Is there any way to list the names of the real products. The one’s that have been tested and are safe? Possibly mentioning the companies that are know for “snake oil ”
    Thank you

  3. K A

    July 27, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Hello, Is there any way to list the names of the real products. The one’s that have been tested and are safe? Possibly mentioning the companies that are know for “snake oil ”
    Thank you

  4. Myra Ann Sahlholdt

    January 22, 2019 at 6:56 am

    cbd. oil should alwats be tested judt likke everything else. I have taken cbd. tested oil for 6 years. Very good Indeed. So many people have been helped with this in Danmark.

  5. bob kinan

    September 15, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    after vaping cannabis oil for 2 to 3 months (that probably contained sythetics/toxic substances) i became very ill with depression,anxiety and pyscosis. any suggestions for treatment, cure? thank you.

    • David Fazekas

      January 17, 2019 at 9:50 am

      Hi Bob, I’m from Consumer Reports and we are trying to protect consumers from bad CBD. Would you be interested in sharing your story with us?

  6. Tammy

    June 5, 2018 at 7:43 am

    Can you please list legit legal Hemp CBD oil brands that ship nation wide? I have researched and there are so many out there it is hard to determine who to purchase from.

    • Bob K

      September 15, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      after vaping cannabis oil for 2 to 3 months (which probably contained synthetic/toxic substances I have become very ill with depression, anxiety and phsycosis. this literally started overnight after last use of product and has gone on for over 2 months. any suggestions for treatment/cure? please and thank you.

    • Midge

      January 3, 2019 at 5:10 pm

      Here are some of the CBD sellers that are legit and get good reviews:

      Green Roads World
      All Natural Way
      NuLeaf Naturals

  7. Jeff Metz

    June 1, 2018 at 3:47 pm

    Thanx for not reporting the real ones. Keep slamming it because you cannot corrupt it.

  8. Amanda

    May 30, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    How to sensibly buy LEGAL cbd oil? Because I got a letter saying customs has confiscated my package two times already and I’m pissed.

    • Libba

      June 2, 2018 at 9:48 am

      I went to two different vape shops and each owner had a brand that they personally used. They showed me lab results which usually is on a reputable manufacturer’s website. But the price was high. So, I researched for months and still do, and eventually learned how to make my own using industrial hemp from a farm in Oregon. They also have oils to buy, even though making it is not difficult- search reddit’s r/cbdinfo.

  9. Vince

    May 30, 2018 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for the coverage on this extremely important topic. With CBD being non-psychoactive and carrying so many health benefits, it really can be used by nearly anyone. This means the demand will be through the roof and without proper drug scheduling and education, the consumer is at risk. It’s a situation where government control may be needed to keep consumers safe – a topic that we should all be discussing.

  10. CBD Online

    May 29, 2018 at 8:15 pm

    I cannot stress the importance of this article enough! Everyone who wants to try CBD Oil MUST read this first so they know what to look for, and how to make sure their product is not just another “Snake” CBD Oil product. It is so sad because it brings a bad reputation to the beautiful CBD and Hemp industry that is saving thousands of lives and truly producing quality CBD products for people who need it. Hopefully soon there will be improved regulation and support from our law makers to eliminate the fake CBD oil.

    • bob

      September 15, 2018 at 5:45 pm

      I am very sick from using cannabis oil that probably contained toxic/synthetic materials. my symptoms include depression, anxiety, psycosis, etc… I used product for 2 to 3 months and literally overnight I became ill after last use and have now been very ill for 2 to 3 months. any suggestions out there? thank you.

    • Bob K

      September 15, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      after vaping cannabis oils for 2 to 3 months (which probably contained synthetic/toxic substances) I have become very ill with depression, axiety and psycosis, etc became ill overnight after last use and have been sick for last 2 to 3 months. any suggestions for help or cure? please and thank you.

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