Deceptive labeling on some CBD oils hides illegal levels of THC

Buyer beware: A FOX 26 investigation uncovered false labeling on bottles of CBD oil sold in Houston, leaving unsuspecting consumers at risk of failing a drug test. A lab test Monday revealed illegal levels of THC--the intoxicating component of marijuana--in the oil.

It all started when a man taking CBD oil for insomnia went through a new employee drug test only to have THC show up on his test results.

“They said that it was a trace THC; I explained that I was on CBD," said Hal Lemon, who lives in Utah but uses a CBD brand sold in Houston. “Extremely upset at the company that I buy the CBD oil from.”

The packaging on the oil Lemon was using doesn’t mention THC, but the company brands itself as "the purest CBD oil on the planet."

Fox 26 took a bottle of that oil, along with another brand of CBD oil, to ExperTox Laboratory in Deer Park to find out what's really in the oils. The second brand purchased at a store in Houston has packaging that claims the oil contains less than .3 percent THC. Fox 26 chose not to disclose the names of the CBD brands, because we weren’t able to test a larger sample.

The test results showed the second bottle of CBD oil contained 70 times more THC than its packaging claimed. 

"The THC in this material is 21 percent," said Ernest Lykissa, PhD, the lab director at ExperTox Laboratory. “That can be very intoxicating for somebody.”

The first bottle of CBD oil also turned out be less pure than you might expect--exceeding the legal limit for THC.

"1.9 percent of THC, which is also illegal,” said Lykissa.

Lemon says he quit using CBD oil after finding the THC in his drug test. He has alerted authorities.

“I reported the incident to Department of Ag,” said Lemon.

Lemon says since there were only trace amounts of THC in his drug test, he explained to his prospective employer that he had been using CBD oil, and he still landed the job as a heavy equipment operator.

At Any Lab Test Now in Pearland, CBD users with concerns about THC have stopped by to do their own urine tests.

“They want to make sure that they’re under the detection limit.” said John Moellenkamp, the lab's owner. “We had I think one person that tested positive, yeah, but she’s been long-term use.”

As for the CBD samples brought to ExperTox, Fox 26 left those samples at the lab.

"Now that we have confirmed illegal concentrations of THC in the substances, you would need a DEA license for Class 3 drugs before you can take them out of here," said Lykissa. "You’re in possession of illegal substances if you walk out this door.”

Fox 26 reached out to both CBD companies involved in this story. While one didn’t get back to us, an employee at the other company said a supervisor will be reaching out to try to trace how such a higl level of THC ended up in their product. Fox 26 has not immediately heard from that supervisor.

House Bill 1325 was signed into Texas law this year, making CBD oil legal as long as it has no more than .3% THC. That new law also says deceptive labels on your CBD bottle are illegal.