Consumer interest in and use of Cannabis products has expanded exponentially. Sales of consumable hemp products as foods and supplements – $370 million in 2017 – are now forecasted to be $900 million by 2020 (Hemp Business Journal ).

While this growth clearly indicates that consumers appreciate the many health benefits of hemp, it also opens the door for those retailers only looking to make money off a rapidly growing trend.

Many consumers rushing into the retail hemp market very likely have no idea how to evaluate the safety, efficacy, and quality of these products – or worse, they might not care about product safety at all.

These circumstances often result in proliferation of the phenomenon called economic adulteration.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines economic adulteration as the “fraudulent and intentional substitution or addition of a substance in a product for the purpose of increasing the apparent value of the product or reducing its cost of production, i.e., for economic gain.” 

Unfortunately, economic adulteration is an unscrupulous practice that adversely impacts foods, over-the-counter meds, prescription drugs, and nutritional supplements alike.

Economic adulteration of these goods is not only potentially dangerous for consumers, it's also a crime.

But economic adulteration is difficult to detect and suppress; often it is only revealed after someone gets sick or injured from taking an adulterated product.

An October 2018 article in JAMA recently highlighted this problem in nutritional supplements, pointing out that products for weight loss, sports performance, and sexual enhancement are the most common products in which economic adulteration occurs.

During the 9-year period covered in an FDA study of this problem, almost 800 products were found to have been adulterated with undeclared drugs or other unapproved agents, solely for the purpose of increasing the apparent value of the product in the minds of consumers. 

As consumer demand for hemp products surges, we are already seeing the phenomenon of economic adulteration begin to raise its ugly head in products marketed to consumers who are looking for the benefits from supporting the endocannabinoid system.

For example, the states of Utah and Tennessee have both reported cases of individuals who thought they were buying a safe hemp product being poisoned instead by a synthetic cannabinoid.

Many of these individuals ended up in a hospital emergency room with symptoms of “altered mental status, nausea or vomiting, and seizures or shaking.” 

If you know anything about Thorne, then you know that we are perfectionists when it comes to safety, efficacy, and quality. We test and test, and then we retest.

We not only subject our raw materials and our finished goods to the required testing per FDA guidelines, but also to the higher testing standards and rigorous audits of third parties like NSF International and the Therapeutic Goods Administration of Australia.

Because we already know that economic adulteration is a common concern of athletes, we participate in NSF International’s Certified for Sport® program, which continually screens our sports performance products for adulterants.

Likewise, Thorne is testing our Hemp Oil + product for the presence of synthetic cannabinoids.

We were already testing it for heavy metals, residual solvents, THC levels, yeasts, and molds, but this additional testing goes above and beyond what is expected. 

The test panel utilized by our third-party laboratory partner, Flora Research Labs, includes 370 possible synthetic adulterants that have been found or could be found in products made from Cannabis (hemp or marijuana). You can read more about this test panel, and why Flora developed it, here

The mere fact that this many synthetic cannabinoids exist should tell you a couple of things: first, that retail hemp products are now a huge business, and second, that you can’t test for just a few adulterants because the dishonest people who engage in economic adulteration keep changing the adulterants they use.

Is Thorne required to do this? No. But we do so because we believe we are obligated to give our customers as much assurance as possible that safety, efficacy, and quality are more important to us than the cost of a testing panel.

We know you trust us – and we are working hard to keep it that way.