When I received the news this weekend, as Young Living Essential Oils MLM concluded their convention in Utah, that Young Living would now be selling CBD oil products, I felt the most intense tension headache I’ve ever had emerge from my temples.
Oh no…..here we go.
CBD MLM companies and products have become ubiquitous, particularly in the past two years this segment of the network marketing pyramid scheme world, CBD seems to be everywhere. Five years ago, it was essential oils and leggings that ruled the MLM world–today every essential oil or health supplement MLM has added CBD oil or other CBD products to their product line up. As if we don’t have enough misuse of essential oils and credulous curing claims–CBD now takes centerstage in MLM world. May the Lord have mercy. It’s bad out there and it’s only going to get worse.
And while the MLM companies specializing in essential oils, herbal supplements, and CBD oil almost always have disclaimers and policies in compliance with the FDA–it doesn’t play out that way especially on social media where their customer sales force markets their products. I’ve seen hundreds of posts from the MLM customer sales force over the years making claims on social media about curing everything from autism, to cancer, and yes, even ebola and AIDS. A quick trip to r/antimlm will confirm exactly what I’m describing here because it goes on to this day and it’s only getting worse with the entry of CBD into the MLM world. Just this weekend it was reported at r/antimlm that non-compliant statements were being made from the stage of the Young Living convention.
As an author of herbal books I have the unique privilege of talking to people who read my books and use the recipes I lovingly craft for them. The satisfaction of my audience, as well as their safety, are the number one priority. I want my readers to have the very best information I have to offer them. I believe in vaccinations and I think people need to visit their doctors for medical care and cures. Unfortunately, this makes me a bit of an outsider in the ‘wellness community.” I don’t believe in “alternative medicine” I believe in medicine and I believe that home remedies are just that, home remedies and not cures for diseases. I also love practicing with herbs, wildcrafting, and growing a prolific herbal and aromatics garden. And I love cannabis and especially CBD-rich cannabis. And I think there is a way to enjoy herbs, home remedies, and CBD in a way that makes sense–safe and sane. And I don’t get a sense of the safe and sane I like to abide by in MLM and especially the essential oil and CBD oil MLMs.
And that is my primary objection to the sale and purchase of CBD MLM products. Customers do not make a good sales force when it comes to the sale of herbal products. In MLM the customer is the salesperson–there is no highly trained sales force with educational background, either formal or autodidactic, beyond reading company marketing materials and interpreting those as they wish. Company compliance policies be damned and throw caution and sensibility to the wind. And it would seem that MLM companies selling oil and herbal products either do not have the power to stop the multitude of disease curing claims made by the customer sales force, or they just don’t care. Either way it’s a bad situation that, like I said before, is only going to get worse.
Now, let’s talk a little bit about what exactly is in CBD MLM products.
Most CBD products sold by MLM companies are made with a compound called CBD isolate. This is how CBD MLM companies, and yes, other CBD companies too, can guarantee a 100% THC-free experience with their product. I have nothing against CBD isolate per se. Do I think that CBD isolate is the best CBD-rich cannabis and hemp have to offer? No I do not. I think that whole plant, farm-to-table cannabis is the best product experience. But, I understand that customer demand for a 100% guaranteed free-of-THC product is there and where there is demand there will be someone to fill the orders. I get that. And I understand that not every company selling CBD isolate is a bad company. Companies who provide recent and accurate third party test results of all of their products and are trying to do the right things while meeting customer demands for the CBD isolate product.
My issues with CBD MLM, apart from the disease curing claims made by the customer sales force, also have to do with the insane pricing of these products as well as the claim that their CBD isolate is the “best” or “purest.” I purchase clean, lovely CBD-rich cannabis flowers from a legal dispensary for $1.80 a gram or I grow my own. There isn’t an MLM on earth that can beat the quality or pricing of whole real plants.
Truth be told: CBD isolate is CBD isolate is CBD isolate. The molecule of CBD is the same no matter what company sells it–the only real differences are in the accuracy of testing for potency, toxins, and heavy metals.
MLM companies offering the CBD isolate product are purchasing their CBD isolate from the same wholesalers as everyone else–and jacking up the price far more than it is actually worth. And CBD isolate isn’t worth much when you consider that cannabinoids like CBD operate on the principle of the entourage effect–which is what makes them so desirable. There is no entourage effect in CBD isolate, only whole plant cannabis or hemp has the entourage. Any entourage, such as terpenes, have to be added in, typically in the form of essential oils. And from what I can tell, MLM companies do a pretty poor job of formulating (eh…they don’t even really try!) to mimic entourage. Just because a MLM company specializes in essential oils doesn’t mean that their CBD isolate product is going to have anything going on in terms of entourage.
MLM is why we can’t have nice things when it comes to CBD! Between the ridiculous disease curing claims by the customer sales force, the predatory pricing and business model, and a product that contains CBD isolate and totally lacking in entourage or even an effort to mimic this via proper formulation–you are better off purchasing your retail products from Whole Foods or other store chain or a legal licensed dispensary if you are in a legal cannabis state.