"Weedwashing" Is the Reason Your CBD Products Might Not Work as Advertised


Courtesy of Lord Jones

When did I first realize that the cannabis boom had officially crossed over into the mainstream? Perhaps it was when my (historically pot-adverse) mother first asked me about CBD last year, or maybe when cult-fave cannabidiol brand Lord Jones landed on the shelves of Sephora. But, to me, nothing has confirmed the staying power of this particular trend than the sudden onset of weed-themed beauty and wellness products—even scented candles and fragrances—many of which don't contain any trace of CBD (and certainly not the psychoactive component of THC). This is Weed, the brand.

As a beauty editor, it's hard not to draw parallels to the natural beauty movement that took off just a few years ago. As with the current fledgling cannabis movement, the huge increase in demand for plant-based sustainable beauty led to a boon of slick new brands clamoring for attention. Thanks to loopholes in regulation, many of these brands relied on "greenwashing" to get a piece of the pie—that is, using certain marketing strategies to make their product seem more plant-driven or sustainable than it actually is. (To put a finer point on it, the term "natural" isn't regulated at all in the realm of cosmetics.) And something very similar is happening in the weed market now.

The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill in December of last year legalized hemp production in the United States, effectively giving CBD production and distribution the green light in all 50 states. That means this already outsized trend is set to hit astronomical new levels, and it's not exactly surprising that prescient brands want to cash in on the hype in a roundabout way.

In the midst of explosive industry growth, Lord Jones co-founder Cindy Capobianco views "weedwashing"—indicating a product contains cannabis when it doesn't—as reprehensible but somewhat inevitable until regulations finally catch up with the market. "Because of the hard work, risks, and sacrifices of many, more and more consumers have access to cannabis products that contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids that we know have a multitude of benefits," she says. "Unfortunately, we also see a number of brands cynically cashing in on a trend, misleading consumers by labeling their products as 'cannabis' and even making false claims that their products contain CBD when they contain none."

"It is a huge issue," adds Guy Rocourt, co-founder and chief products officer of cannabis brand Papa & Barkley. "Ultimately consumers are going to pay the price because they are going to buy these placebo products, have a bad experience, and as a result, be reluctant to buy other products."

Now for the good news: Both Rocourt and Capobianco emphasize that it isn't hard to know if you're buying a quality product so long as you're armed with the right knowledge. Keep reading to learn how to spot weedwashing right off the bat.