High on Hemp founder Tegan Scates says the industry has work to do to educate patients about the downsides of black market CBD

In today’s market, Australians have access to a range of options for acquiring medical cannabis, whether legally or illegally. CBD remains one of the most sought-after medical cannabis products, thanks to its lack of hallucinatory effects and much-touted health benefits.

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Since the legal route still contains several roadblocks to access, many Australians are turning to black market online sellers for the procurement of CBD products. Other avenues include personal connections, select health and wellbeing stores, and even multi-level marketing schemes.

In May this year, my company, High on Hemp, partnered with Steven Ng of CBD Reviews Australia (a Facebook community which provides customer reviews of CBD products) after the group conducted some independent testing on products from the black market.

Of the 62 black market products that were tested, one in four of them were found to contain less CBD or cannabinoids than stated on the label. One in nine of them was an outright scam, containing nothing more than plain olive, coconut or hemp seed oil.

Tegan Scates, founder, High on Hemp

Reselling from overseas

Many Australian black market sellers simply resell imported cannabis products and have little to no understanding of the true quality of the product they are selling. They rely heavily on information given by suppliers, which often lacks transparency and fails to outline the international supply chain, including important details such as farming and extraction methods, as well as product testing. This leaves consumers at risk of buying a poor quality product, which could do more harm than good.

In the last month or so, I’ve seen anywhere between 50 to 70 new Instagram accounts selling CBD. The scariest thing is that more than half of the sellers are relying on supplier information from overseas, because the majority of the product they’re selling is imported.