SAN ANTONIO – CBD sales are exploding as more people turn to it as a retail remedy for what ails them -- from pain and inflammation to insomnia and anxiety.
But the booming business is largely unregulated, making it challenging for consumers to know if they are getting what they pay for.
"It's been life-changing for me," said Mary Fernandez, who was having trouble keeping up with her grandchildren.
"With my arthritis, especially bending over and getting up, it was painful," she said.
Fernandez decided to try CBD oil for her pain and inflammation.
"You just notice, 'Wow, I can bend down. I can hop up and it doesn't hurt,'" Fernandez said.
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is extracted from the hemp plant. It's not the part of cannabis that can make you high.
With recent law changes, it is legal in Texas. Consumers can find it for sale in a variety of products at a wide range of places, from health stores to high-end boutiques to vape shops and gas stations.
To see if what's listed on the label matched what's inside the packages and bottles, KSAT 12 News bought 12 CBD products, including oils and gummies, from stores around town.
With labels concealed, the products were shipped to Evio Labs in Berkeley, California, for analysis.
The results? Out of 12 products, the lab found four that came close to matching the amount of CBD claimed on their labels. Two more were within about 20 percent of their claim. Half of them were off by even more -- some a lot more.
A package of gummies from Hemp Bombs claimed 15 mg in one gummy. The lab found a gummy actually had 19 mg of CBD, 23% more than the package claimed.
Another Hemp Bombs' product fell really short. The bottle of Complete Relaxation Syrup claimed 300 mg of CBD on the label, but the lab found 51 mg, an 83% shortage.
The company responded, saying all of their products undergo third-party lab testing and they "will continue to invest heavily in quality control -- including in-house lab testing."
A bottle of Green Roads CBD oil listed 250 mg of CBD. But the lab found 165 mg. A second bottle from the same batch showed even less, 147 mg.
Green Roads responded, saying their third-party lab test showed 272 mg in a bottle from the batch in question.
"Disparities in testing results can be caused by a variety of factors, including differences in testing procedures and standards," a Green Roads company spokesman said. "We stand behind the quality and purity of our products."
The biggest and most surprising discrepancy was found with two packages of gummies from Platinum X.
Packages of peach rings and sour worm gummies each claimed 500 mg of CBD inside, but the lab detected none.
Platinum X did not respond to requests for comment.
"To sell something that doesn't have CBD in it, that's unconscionable to me. You're basically just taking people's money and that's just wrong," said pharmacist Jorge Escudero, who now runs his own CBD store, CBD Apothecary. Escudero advises consumers to ask to see a product's certificate of analysis by a lab.
Some products also include a QR code on the packaging that allow consumers to read the certificate by using a phone app. However, Escudero cautions consumers to be sure the batch number on the product matches the batch number on the report.
Until federal and state regulators catch up with the craze, Escudero offers two words of advice: "Buyer beware."
FULL STATEMENT FROM GLOBAL WIDGET REGARDING HEMP BOMBS PRODUCTS: "We are aware of the challenges around potency levels in CBD products. Global Widget is fully committed to providing safe products for all our customers and ensuring that the product is accurately described by the label. All our products undergo third-party lab testing. We will continue to invest heavily in quality control -- including in-house lab testing and current Good Manufacturing Practices."
FULL STATEMENT FROM GREEN ROADS: “Green Roads’ commitment to quality, purity and transparency is unparalleled in the CBD industry. Every Green Roads product is tested by Kaycha Labs (formerly Evio Labs of Florida), an industry leader in the testing of hemp products and an ISO 17025 certified laboratory that is the official testing facility of the State of Florida and state law enforcement. The batch in question was tested by Kaycha to have approximately 272 mg of CBD in a 250 mg bottle, fully compliant with FDA guidelines. Disparities in testing results can be caused by a variety of factors, including differences in testing procedures and standards. We stand behind the quality and purity of our products.”