Cannabidiol (CBD) product contamination: Quantitative analysis of Δ 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ 9-THC) concentrations found in commercially available CBD products

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2022 Jun 3;237:109522. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109522. Online ahead of print.


Background: Regulation has not kept pace with the growth of the hemp-derived CBD market. We have evaluated the risk of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC) contamination in 80 unregulated products with comparison to a regulated control, Epidiolex®.

Methods: Local and national brands of hemp-derived oil products were purchased online and from local retailers in central Kentucky (which carry both national and local brands). These were extracted by solvent extraction and quantified by liquid-chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) using a validated method.

Results: Of the 80 unregulated products and Epidiolex®, Δ9-THC was detected above the limit of quantification (LOQ = 0.005 mg/mL) of the assay in 52 samples, ranging from 0.008 mg/mL to 2.071 mg/mL. Twenty-one of the products tested were labelled as "THC-Free", and 5 of these products contained detectable levels of Δ9-THC ranging from 0.015 mg/mL to 0.656 mg/mL.

Conclusions: Consumers are taking hemp-derived CBD products without understanding the risks of unintentional consumption of Δ9-THC. This accidental use of Δ9-THC could have adverse effects on health and safety as well as potential legal consequences (e.g., child custody, impaired driving), as Δ9-THC drug test findings could impact employment, military, and sport eligibility status.

Keywords: CBD; Contamination; Regulatory; Sport doping; Workplace drug testing; Δ(9)-THC.