Bottom line: A CBD Oracle investigation of Amazon’s hemp market found that most products contain no cannabinoids and 43% of products don’t even contain any hemp at all.

A CBD Oracle investigation into the hemp market on Amazon has revealed widespread issues, including a complete lack of hemp in more than 40% of products and some products containing large amounts of delta-8 THC. 

While most committed hemp consumers don’t buy from Amazon, with the marketplace having such a huge reach, the poor-quality or outright deceptive hemp on the platform could have a substantial impact on those just interested in trying out hemp. 

Amazon’s hemp is dragging all legitimate hemp sellers through the mud along with it.

The Lab Testing: What Is Really in Amazon’s Hemp?

CBD Oracle commissioned InfiniteCAL’s San Diego lab to test 56 hemp products from Amazon.com. 

These were among the most popular products, but owing to Amazon’s policy – which bans CBD in all consumable products – they were not forthcoming about what exactly they contained. 

The main goal of the lab analysis was to answer this question: do these products contain CBD, THC, or any other cannabinoids? And if not, are they even “hemp” at all?

CBD Is Common on Amazon Despite the Ban (and Some Have THC Too)

First off, the lab found that 30% of products tested did contain CBD. There are two ways to look at this.

On one hand, this means that the majority of products didn’t break the specific Amazon policy about CBD. However, 30% of them did, which still means that a substantial number of products violate the rule.

On the other hand, the marketing of Amazon hemp products is very heavy on the implication that the products contain CBD, without explicitly saying so. Searching for “CBD gummies” on the platform reveals tons of products promising CBD-like benefits and advertising specific milligram amounts of, well, something

Practically, you could argue that all of these products are subtly advertising CBD but the vast majority of them don’t even contain it.

Additionally, 11% of products tested positive for THC, and three of them contained substantial amounts of delta-8 THC, up to 76 mg per gummy. Delta-8 THC is currently banned or restricted in 24 states and Washington, D.C., according to a separate research conducted by CBD Oracle. 

Most Products Don’t Contain Cannabinoids, and 43% Aren’t Hemp At All

For 62.5% of products, standard potency testing showed that there were no cannabinoids present at all. This alone is problematic since 89% of products explicitly promised a specific milligram (mg) amount and most consumers will assume this refers to cannabinoids.

CBD Oracle then sent these products back for additional testing via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, to determine whether they contained hemp oil of any type. 

Despite every product advertising “hemp extract,” it showed that 43% of products didn’t contain hemp oil at all. Regardless of what you think about the morality of implying that your product is cannabinoid-rich when it isn’t, there is no excuse in these cases. This is lying, plain and simple.

The Disastrous Situation for Amazon’s Hemp Customers

The lab results only scratch the surface of the problems with Amazon’s hemp market. 

Imagine that you’re an Amazon account holder with a passing interest in trying CBD. You choose a product that seems like it has a lot of CBD (but you couldn’t check because 95% aren’t lab-tested), read the reviews (48% of which are graded as low reliability by Mozilla’s FakeSpot), read the description (52% of which make unapproved medical claims) and make the purchase. But it doesn’t work (because most don’t contain cannabinoids), and so you go to ask the company what’s going on. But for 89% of products, there is no way to reliably get in touch with the company.

If you’d bought hemp from a reputable company before, you’d chalk this up to a bad seller and look elsewhere for your CBD. But if this was your first and only experience, would you really try again? 

The unfortunate reality is that the hemp industry is maligned as a kind of regulation-free Wild West, and with an experience like this under your belt, you’re more likely to start to believe it.

Now consider that Amazon’s awful hemp generates what CBD Oracle estimates to be $64 million per year, and possibly even more than this. It’s hard to estimate the true cost to the industry, but the direct financial impact is likely in the tens of millions and the reputational damage could be even more severe than that.

Amazon Needs to Step Up 

The report leads to an unavoidable conclusion: Amazon’s hemp market is a total disaster, incentivizing companies that lie and punishing the honest sellers of real cannabinoid-rich hemp. 

This is all caused by Amazon’s “no CBD” policy, which is not substantially enforced and makes the game “how can we keep the listing active?” rather than “how can we meet the needs of customers?” 

The customers spend too much money on useless gummy bears and the industry as a whole is tarred with the same brush as the scammers that have been allowed to fester on one of the biggest ecommerce platforms in the world. 

Amazon needs to step up and tackle this problem, one way or another.

The full dataset from the analysis is available in this spreadsheet. You can also download a summary of the report in PDF.

About the author:

Lee Johnson is the senior editor at CBD Oracle, and has been covering science, vaping and cannabis for over a decade. He focuses on research-driven deep dives into topics ranging from medical uses for CBD to industry and user statistics, as well as general guides and explainers for consumers.

CBD Oracle is an independent cannabis consumer research company working to improve the safety and transparency of cannabis and hemp products.

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