They Likely Contain NO CBD!

It pains me to say that in our industry, the overwhelming rule at present is CAVEAT EMPTOR (let the buyer beware). Case in point…yesterday morning, I was watching CNN, and a commercial came on that started with a close-up shot of a CBD tincture. The announcer said something like “You can pay over $100 for a bottle of CBD that’s not approved by the FDA to relieve pain. OR you can spend less than $20 to buy the number 1 selling hemp product that is approved by the FDA to relieve pain.”

Sounds good, right? So let’s dig into this. These so-called hemp pain products DO NOT CONTAIN CBD. In fact, the active ingredients are things like trolamine salicylate, the active ingredient in products like Aspercreme. It is used as an ingredient in sunscreens, analgesic creams, and cosmetics. The salicylic acid portion contributes to both the sun protection effect (by absorbing UVB radiation) and to the analgesic effect.

In 1983, the FDA classified trolamine salicylate as having unproven effectiveness and safety as an external analgesic. One randomized double-blind crossover study of 25 patients with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the knee reported that trolamine salicylate 10% cream was no more effective than placebo. The US Food and Drug Administration has not reviewed any of the over-the-counter products listed in the Daily Med database that contain trolamine salicylate. Also, the producers of trolamine salicylate products have not provided evidence to the FDA in support of claims that this chemical is directly absorbed through the skin into underlying tissue. Due to health concerns, in 2019 the FDA issued a proposed rule classifying the sunscreen use of trolamine salicylate as "not generally recognized as safe and effective” Side effects include blistering, peeling, redness/irritation at the application site, nausea and vomiting.

So to say it’s FDA approved may well be overstepping, but you’re probably wondering how they call it a “hemp product??? The answer is deceptively simple. They simply mix a little hemp seed oil in the product, and BINGO, it’s HEMP. Let’s be 100% clear here. Hemp seed oil, or oil extracted from stems and stalks, contains virtually NO cannabinoids…CBD or others. And of course, it’s the cannabinoids that provide any and all of the medicinal benefits ascribed to cannabis. Simply adding a little hemp seed oil does absolutely nothing to increase the effectiveness of trolamine salicylate.

Then, of course, there’s the price. It is much cheaper than CBD. That’s because there is NO CBD… or any other cannabinoid for that matter! And frankly, the consumer can purchase an Aspercreme-like product for about one-third the price. I don’t know about you, but I find this shameful.

The real problem with this type of advertising and promotion is that not only is it misleading (and quite possibly deceptive), but it also creates confusion in the mind of the consumer. Consumers may equate hemp with CBD, which is definitely not the case. Worse, they may buy a product which may or may not work, has potential side effects and literally have been duped in the process.

But It Doesn’t Stop There…

And while the example above is the most recent to grate on my nerves, it’s far from the only one. In fact, this issue is rampant. I was speaking with one of our Pharmacy Partners some time ago, and she’d mentioned that a customer had come into the pharmacy with a product she was taking, and wanted to know if I knew anything about the brand. As we researched the product, we both discovered that it was merely labeled as “hemp extract” 1000 mg per bottle. There was no reference to, or mention of CBD, only that there was 1000 mg of hemp extract in the bottle.

As I explained to the pharmacist, there was simply no way of knowing how much CBD oil was in the bottle and that the 1000 mg was simply OIL content, and not specifically CBD oil content.

Another troubling thing we find with products on the marketplace that are marketed as CBD, is that when you read the label, they are made from “stalks and stems.” These companies are trying to pass these products off as rich in CBD.

They aren’t. Why do I know that? Because the cannabinoids in the plant simply aren’t contained in high amounts in the seeds, stalks or stems. And certainly not in the roots, either. Think about hemp’s “cousin,” the marijuana plant. Do you know of any dispensaries offering stalks for smoking? Do they call folks who work in marijuana dispensaries “stalk-tenders”? Of course not! That’s because cannabinoids are mostly contained in the AERIAL parts of the plant…think leaves, flowers, and buds. Amazon and many of the large retail platforms still do not allow ANY product refined from aerial parts to be sold on their websites…only products refined from stems and stalks!

At Imbue Botanicals, we ONLY use AERIAL parts of the plant in our products. And all of our products are clearly labeled and independently tested for the amount of CBD therein. Why? Because that’s what you’re supposed to be buying…and paying for!

And on top of all this misleading advertising, companies are adding CBD to things like face masks and other products, which arguably makes no difference in the product’s value or performance.

SO How Do You Select a REAL CBD product?


Choose Quality Ingredients. Quality matters when it comes to CBD products. You’ll want to look for potent and pure CBD products without any by-products or fillers. Remember that the FDA isn’t monitoring CBD products yet, which means that it’s up to the consumer to practice extra care when looking for products. How can you tell if you’re getting a good brand? First, avoid cheap brands. It’s one thing to look for sales and promotions, but it’s another thing to buy cheaply-made CBD products. These products are cheap because they contain cheap ingredients, i.e. fillers. You’re looking for pure CBD. How else can you tell that you’re getting a good brand? Ask yourself these questions when you do your research:

  • Does this company grow and source its own CBD, or does it import CBD from overseas?
  • Is this product organic?
  • Is the product Full Spectrum?
  • Does the product contain any chemical additives or agents for which the manufacturer is making health claims?
  • Is it extracted using ethanol extraction methodologies?
  • Are their ingredients non-GMO? Are they vegan?
  • Is the company transparent about its growing practices?
  • AND MOST IMPORTANT, does the company post ALL the testing on EACH batch of product including: raw oil, potency, microbial contaminants, heavy metals, and residual solvents? IF NOT, STAY AWAY!

CBD: Colorado Grown is by far THE BEST. At Imbue Botanicals, we believe that Colorado is the best source for CBD. We chose Colorado as our home for several reasons. First of all, Colorado’s land is perfect for hemp agriculture. It has plenty of sunshine and irrigation, giving Colorado’s fields the best growing conditions. Recently, we were asked why we grow our hemp in Colorado instead of, say, Kentucky or California, and the answer is simple: It all boils down to altitude and latitude.

Colorado’s rise in elevation results in a thinner atmosphere, meaning less obstruction to the sun’s rays. If you’ve ever gone skiing in places like Colorado or Utah, you know how fast you can suffer a sunburn! As elevation increases, living things are exposed to more sunlight and in particular ultraviolet light, both UVA and UVB. In humans, our bodies’ response to these ultraviolet waves is to produce melanin, which of course produces a tan to further protect against the sun’s harmful rays. In plants, the reaction is generally to produce more flavonoids for protection.

The increase in altitude produces a rather “geometric” increase in ultraviolet light. For every 1000 meters in elevation, UV light increases some 10-12%, according to the World Health Organization. This means that our hemp plants are exposed to nearly 20% more UV light where we grow our hemp. Studies have shown that UVA light significantly increases the production of cannabinoids in Cannabis Sativa, making them more potent.

When it comes to latitude, scientists have known for some time now that cannabis plants that grow north (or south in the Southern Hemisphere) of 30 degrees latitude are higher in CBD than plants grown in the tropical or subtropical regions of the Earth, likely due to the increased exposure to UVB in these areas. Therefore, growing our plants at a higher elevation, north of 30 degrees latitude, produces a plant richer in CBD and other cannabinoids. And that, we believe, translates into a better quality product for both people and pets.


Beware of ANY product simply labeled HEMP. Do your homework, speak with the company if you have questions, make sure you read the label, review the CoA’s and third-party testing, and buy your CBD from a source you trust.