The Transparent Source: What is CBD Traceability and Why it Matters

Being knowledgeable about the products you buy and where they come from is always important, maybe even more so with a product like CBD. To say that the CBD industry is expanding at lightning speed is an understatement, and the chances of this abruptly ending is slim to none. Because CBD has only recently become regulated, yet so many of us are using it for health and medicinal purposes, now is the time to investigate your CBD’s traceability.

What is CBD Traceability?

If we start at the very basics, then, the first question we must ask is: What is traceability? As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to trace something back to its source or point of origin. In terms of CBD this means that companies producing CBD ensure that their production methods are transparent. That is, CBD companies should be able to answer questions regarding where their seeds originate, where their plants are harvested, and how they are cultivated.

The consequences of traceability are huge: better traceability generates better quality products and a better understanding of the regulations important to ensure CBD products are safe, as well as the industry as a whole. If we are able to trace our CBD products to their source and follow their entire journey to us, we will be able to identify potential black market activity and unsafe CBD. If this can be identified, regulations can be brought into effect to curb these practices. And better regulations indicate a trustworthy product that has earned consumer respect.

Why is product traceability so important when discussing CBD? 

CBD traceability isn’t just good for the consumer, but for the lasting influence of the industry as a whole. Quite simply, CBD legalisation in North America and many parts of Europe, and  the rapidly expanding world of consumer goods that has blossomed in response to this, is still very much in its infancy. And so are the regulations surrounding it. 

Moreover, CBD is still associated with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive and historically controversial cannabinoid also found in the cannabis plant,  which remains illegal in most countries in the same regions just mentioned bar Canada and some States in the USA. As such, an understandable bias about CBD continually presents itself regarding origins and legal production methods.

An important factor when discussing this potential for bias, as mentioned above, is CBD’s inability to escape from its potential medicinal benefits. With its unquestionable link to THC and medicinal marijuana, it is easy to understand why an non-psychoactive cannabinoid would be a very attractive medicinal substitute. Even though CBD’s uses and benefits have not been fully tested scientifically, it is impossible to think of CBD without thinking of what many claim to be its miraculous healing properties. 

Indeed many early studies have indicated that CBD can help with certain types of anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, and certain types of epileptic seizures, to name a tiny portion of studies. Only time will really be able to tell us for certain how exactly CBD may interact with our endocannabinoid systems and benefit our health, but the medical claims that have already been made exist within a precarious position between a failed or justified reputation for the industry as a whole.

What areas should be considered when checking Product Traceability?

With so much to consider, what main areas in CBD production is product traceability most important? It would be irresponsible to assume that any aspect of CBD production escapes the necessity for traceability, so let’s move swiftly onwards. However, these aspects can be divided into three broad categories to help tackle this all too easily complicated terrain:

Origin – The company responsible for the production of the CBD you are interested in should be able to address exactly where the product comes from. Moreover, the company should be involved in all aspects of its origin story. Simply, is the company responsible for the actual growth element of the plant that has been refined into your CBD product? If you are interested in certified THC free, check our CBD Oil range.

Production – After you know where your CBD comes from, it’s crucial to have an understanding of how it transforms from plant to CBD extract, from extract to product. As stated above, the same company should be involved in this process from start to finish to avoid any potential gaps in traceability. If not, is there a clear ‘story’ behind the journey your CBD has gone on?

Quality Control – It is one thing to understand the ‘where’ and ‘how’ of CBD production. But, without legitimate and easily attainable quality control checks throughout this process you could still lack full knowledge of the CBD you use. As regulations for CBD are not yet fully formed, it is all too easy for the quality/strength/effects of CBD products to be advertised in a misleading way.

What Does Good CBD Traceability Look Like?

Of course, this information is not entirely helpful unless it can be translated into a practical application. Now that we have developed an idea of the main areas to consider when investigating the product traceability of CBD products, what specifically does good product traceability look like, and how can you ensure that you have a good understanding of your CBD’s journey? 

Origin

  • Location of Cultivation – Do you know where the hemp that has made its way into your CBD product was grown? If your CBD can be tracked all the way back to its source, there is less likelihood that it was grown in dubious or even illegal circumstances.
  • Type of Hemp – The company should be transparent about the type of hemp they are using. Is it agricultural hemp and is this easily obtainable information? If not, your product may contain strains of high-THC recreational or medicinal cannabis. If you don’t know what type of hemp is used, this could undermine any claim the product makes about being THC free, and also any claims it makes about the consistency of the effects it produces.
  • When it was Grown/Harvested – Can you see a time-stamp on your product, or anything on the label that indicates this information is available? Like many products, knowing when a product was ‘made’ is a good indication of whether it will have the desired effect you are using it for.

Production

  • Evidence of Manufacturing Regulations – Does your product contain information about Good Manufacturing Practices, or does it indicate approval from a regulatory body like the FDA (in America) or the FSA (in England). If not, there could be holes in the company’s production methods which may indicate that corners are being cut to reduce costs, for example.
  • Regulators are Recognisable – Look for anything that implies that the production of the product has been approved by a regulatory body you can recognise and trust. If the product claims that its production methods have been approved by a body you do not recognise, it may not be from an approved regulator. As a conscious consumer, it is your responsibility to research anything on a label you are unsure of.
  • Production Indicates a Certificate of Analysis – Is there something on the label that shows that the CBD has been tested for quality and purity before being manufactured into your final product?

Quality Control

  • Third Party Lab Testing – Does the CBD product indicate testing by a third party? Why does this matter? Simply, third party lab testing is a way to eliminate potentially skewed or biased lab test results. Impartiality is crucial to quality control so that regulators have a clear picture of the product, and so consumers have this as well. Third party laboratory testing ensures that the quality of your product is as pure as possible. Without this, harmful substances like mold, mildew, pesticides, and heavy metals may be hiding within your CBD without your knowledge.
  • Available Test Results – Does your product contain information on its label about how you can access full reports regarding their quality control procedures? If a company is willing to provide this information, you gain control as a consumer and can investigate their quality results. But beyond this, it demonstrates the company’s dedication to transparency, no matter what the results. All of Purity’s CBD oils are certified THC free.
  • Product Label/Test Result Coherence – Do the claims that your potential CBD product makes on its label match the actual results you have studiously requested? Again, any discrepancy between label and testing implies that the company cannot be trusted fully.

All products from Purity’s various ranges all contain 0% THC, with lab reports on each product page.

Implications of Traceability

The question of product traceability as we’ve seen is twofold: Can you trace your CBD back to its origins and guarantee its quality, and what are the consequences of  answering yes or no to this question? There is a scientific and regulatory factor to consider as well as a conceptual and ethical factor. 

Indeed these are not separate from, but rather important aspects of, each other. If we answer ‘no’, we learn to distrust the particular CBD product and company. And, moreover, we currently lack the universal and sophisticated quality regulations or scientific research with which to rekindle a sense of trust in CBD as a whole.

As CBD is a relatively new but rapidly expanding industry, it is easy to get ‘lost’ in jargon and misleading information, as the regulations that would otherwise curb this behaviour are racing to keep up with such growth. At the same time it is easy to ignore or simply skim over information relating to product traceability as CBD’s potential health benefits and miracle cures blind us with bold promises and trendy manifestations. 

With so many ways to lose sight of traceability, it is imperative to the potential of the CBD industry to ensure total production transparency, but also up to us as consumers to be conscious of what to look for.

So, traceability not only feeds into the growing understanding of what considerations need to be taken into account when regulating a substance such as CBD, but also feeds into a company’s ability to be trusted by the public and by regulators, when something goes right as well as when it goes wrong. If we are to continue to explore the benefits of CBD use, the reputation of the industry must be upheld, and that reputation rests on the shoulders of full traceability.

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