The use of CBD has skyrocketed over the past decade. In 2022 alone, 26% of people used CBD in some way, shape, or form. People use CBD for several reasons, including trying to find help with sleep challenges, anxiety, and as part of a pain management solution. The industry was worth over $5 billion in 2021, and all signs point to CBD entering a period of tremendous growth in the near future. Today, there are many CBD product options available, from oils, tinctures, gummies, and creams.
Despite this growth, however, the industry has not witnessed a higher amount of regulation. With the popularity of CBD rising, so too has the amount of low-quality CBD products hitting shelves for consumers. There currently exists no FDA or other federal regulatory oversight on CBD products, and this lack of oversight leads to subpar products being sold right next to quality products. As such, there is often little consumers can do to discern between the two.
Knowing that there needed to be a way to distinguish quality CBD products from low-quality (and even dangerous) products, business leader, innovator, and MBA Helene Blanchette joined the efforts of Dr. Dung Trinh at the Physicians CBD Council. The council is a collection of physicians from several disciplines, such as family medicine, internal medicine, rheumatology, pain management, endocrinology, psychiatry and nephrology, seeking to supporting the emerging field of cannabis research for potential therapeutic health benefits and educate consumers on the benefits and potential side effects of CBD. The group has now introduced the Physicians Quality Verified Seal, a way to help consumers identify the real and true quality CBD or other cannabinoid derived products.
A consumer safety advocate
Blanchette has a passion for consumer safety and education, serving as president of the council to help CBD brands build consumer trust. “Brands who remain honest with their consumers want their products to be certified in order to build trust,” she explains. “If a foreign substance is found during testing, those brands will ensure they fix the issue and obtain certification. Serving as a neutral entity, we look forward to assisting brands in testing, certifying, and demonstrating the quality of their products for their consumers.”
The group is not Blanchette’s first foray into the CBD world. She was formerly the president of a female-focused CBD wellness channel. This work led to her being named the 2021 Woman of the Year by the Vanguard Media Online group, which honors women in cannabis.
Her work was focused on helping women make good choices in wellness- and CBD-related products and has prompted her move to the council, which takes that education and support work to a larger population. The group of experts has offered workshops and other educational events to consumers to spread knowledge about finding and using high-quality CBD products and offer a complete course on the endocannabinoid system, on their website.
Low-quality CBD products can contain heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins from poor standards or cross-contamination during growing, production, or packaging. There can also be quality issues with the planting process. With hemp products, for example, whether or not it was grown organically can be an important consideration; The family of cannabis plants which hemp is part of has a tendency to absorb all that is in the air and soil while growing, which can then be reflected in the cannabinoid extract used to manufacture products.
When consumers are ingesting a product, they need to be able to trust that the product is safe — a primary focus for the council. Subpar CBD products that have not been put through rigorous oversight could be more harmful than beneficial. . Many brands more concerned with making money off the popularity of CBD than offering quality products may mislabel their products and attempt to mislead consumers. This dishonesty is why the certification program is so important.
The Council’s mission
The council is on a mission to make safe, quality CBD accessible to all consumers. Their quality seal will help elevate not only quality brands but the CBD industry as a whole.
Blanchette is especially proud of the group’s neutrality. Outside of the costs from testing and registration, the Council neither endorses nor receives a financial benefit, including remuneration from product sales from the products that bear their verified seal. “This independence allows the council to operate as an incorruptible and unbiased entity,” Blanchette remarks.
The council’s focus on education and consumer safety makes it a standout champion for the CBD industry. In the fall of 2022, they joined forces to help in recruiting patients for a first-of-its-kind cannabinoid research study led by researchers at the University of Michigan, in collaboration with MoreBetter (Releaf App). This study on chronic pain is a deep dive into which CBD formulations and dosing are most effective for conditions such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid-arthritis and osteoarthritis. The study hopes to evaluate the efficacy of cannabis-derived products as a pain management healthier option than stronger drugs such as opioids.
“The key data and findings collected from this study will help highlight the therapeutic benefits of cannabis-derived products,” Blanchette explains. “As a result, both patients and medical professionals will be able to navigate the CBD market with confidence and certainty. This study aligns with the council’s commitment to collaboration on cannabis research, education, and consumer safety. We are excited to be a part of the effort in pushing this much-needed study forward.”
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Welcomed with open arms
Blanchette’s leadership experience has helped accelerate the council’s offer and positioning. Since its original inception by Dr. Dung Trinh in 2019, the CBD industry has openly embraced the council’s oversight and programs. The credibility that the council brings to the market is something that CBD brands have seen as a considerable benefit.
“The council’s launch of the quality seal has us absolutely thrilled,” said Annie Rouse, COO at OP Innovates and co-founder of Overcome. “For brands like ourselves who prioritize product quality and consumer safety, it provides an industry-certified way to rise above the noise of low-quality products on the current market.” Other companies that have received the quality seal feel similar to Rouse, understanding the benefits of consumer quality education.
Blanchette is leading the group in its mission to improve the CBD market overall. Through their collective of highly-qualified medical experts, the CBD market can be elevated to include the highest quality products, bringing the best in wellness benefits to the people who need it most.