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CBD vs. MLM: The Tragedy of CBD MLM Oil

Farm-to-table, whole plant, lovingly hand-crafted CBD oil. The way things ought to be.

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.

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.

MLM And CBD

By Mallory Milne

The spotlight has been on CBD oil for quite some time now, and it’s popularity among many, young and old, is increasing.

The dietary supplement industry is expected to hit over 210 billion by 2026, and CBD oil is fast carving itself a giant chunk out of that market. Despite legal issues everywhere surrounding CBD, it seems like everyone and their dog want a piece of it.

Enter the multi-level marketing(MLM) CBD companies.

What Does MLM Mean?

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, let’s break it down.

MLM stands for multi-level marketing. It may also be referred to as pyramid selling, network marketing, or referral marketing.

In these types of companies, you have multiple levels of people who promote and sell a product that is being offered. There are the people at the top, the people underneath them, and the people underneath those people, and so on.

You generally have to pay to sign up for the “opportunity” to promote this product, and you earn money by sharing the product with other people using a referral link.

In most of these, you also have to pay a certain amount every month to earn bonuses or recruit so many people before you can even begin to earn. They are incentivized in a way as to pressure people to attempt to recruit more people into the business continually.

When these people purchase something through your link, you earn a percentage of the amount sold, called a commission. If anyone decides to sign up under you and they sell through their link, they make a commission, and you also make a smaller commission. And on and on the wheel rolls. Sounds great, right?

Wrong. And for more than a few reasons.

According to a report done on 350 MLM companies, 99% of people who enter into these companies will lose money, not earn. That’s a ridiculous number even to consider.

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So why do so many people continue to sign up? Well, the claims that you are going to make huge amounts of money are one. The ever-popular idea that you are going into business for yourself is another.

Everyone wants the chance to be able to do something that will enable them to quit their full-time jobs and work from home, and what better way to do so than spamming your friends and family and harassing them to buy from you?

In the age that we live in now, it’s not just your friends and family that are the targets anymore. With the number of people using social media and other online sources as the base for their “business,” these companies are popping up everywhere and can be found on almost every social media platform, in every group, no matter how big or small.

Unfortunately for many, these reps will say anything and everything under the sun to convince you that their product is the best out there because the only way they make a profit is if you buy. Of course, they are going to say whatever it takes. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to break, and for some, morals go way down when money is at stake.

The mindset of MLM companies has been called cult-like, and the culture within them is strong. I’ve seen some absolutely absurd claims now regarding CBD oil, which I will go into depth on a little further down.

These companies target people who are struggling to make ends meet by promising something only a very small few ever get a taste of. Statements like “Join the hottest and fastest-growing market out there today,” “Be your own boss,” “Tired of living paycheck to paycheck, sign up today,” “Unlimited earning potential,” etc., are just some of the common phrases you’ll see across the board on these sites.

Long Live The Pyramid Scheme…

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll likely have heard the term “pyramid scheme” once or twice in your life.

The pyramid scheme worked by sucking you in and making you pay to join a program, whatever that might have been. You then earn money by recruiting others into paying for the program, which often has no actual product at the center of the business. All of the commissions you earn in a pyramid scheme come from recruiting new people, who then sign others up.

You generally have to pay to stay active in the program or stay at a certain level, which is how people end up losing so much money from them. Only a few at the top levels of the pyramid make any money off of it.

The money keeps being funneled up to the top, with more and more people joining the bottom of the pyramid, each level larger than the one before it.

Statistics and logic have proved time and time again that these types of businesses will ultimately collapse on themselves. After all, the world is only so big, and the number of people who can join is finite.

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Here’s a graphic to show just how unsustainable a pyramid scheme really is:

The pyramid scheme, as we used to know it, has changed a bit and is now illegal. For these businesses to run legally now, there has to be an actual product for sale. In some places in the world, this type of business is illegal, no matter if they are selling a legit product or not.

It’s also not technically referred to as a pyramid scheme anymore; rather, we call it MLM. Regardless of the name and the fact that there is now a product to be had from it, the fundamentals remain the same.

When it comes to MLM and CBD companies, it is particularly dangerous…

As CBD oil has gained popularity, the number of claims about it has grown far beyond what anyone has expected. A quick Google search on the subject brings up articles claiming that it can quite literally cure every ailment known to man.

In fact, it is a fairly new development in the medical industry, and the alarming lack of actual research on the subject needs to be addressed. All around the globe, studies are being conducted, which is awesome, but what is happening right now is these MLM CBD companies are promoting misinformation that doesn’t have a lot of actual research to back it up.

Some claims that I have heard from CBD reps, and these are just the ones I’ve come across personally.

  • CBD will cure every medical issue you have – So not true. CBD has a lot of different uses because of the way it works within our Endocannabinoid System. CBD and THC bind to receptors that are located throughout us, and is why it works on several issues, but by no means does this make it a cure-all for everything.
  • CBD won’t cause a fail on a drug test – So legally, in many places around the world, CBD can only contain 0.3% THC. This is a meager amount and won’t cause a “high,” but it could very well cause you to lose your job. THC builds up in your system in your fat stores, and Full Spectrum oil CAN cause a fail on a test, don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you differently. If you are tested, you need to go with Broad Spectrum or CBD Isolate, both of which contain non-detectable levels of THC.
  • Human grade CBD can be used on your pets – WRONG! There are some that are safe, then there are many products out there made for humans that can be seriously harmful to your pets, and many of the essential oils in them can be highly toxic. If you choose to go this route for your furry friends, please do your research beforehand, and ONLY purchase pet safe products with extensive 3rd party testing done on them.
  • The company has the absolute best product on the market, and all others are inferior – There is no one best CBD oil, and whenever I see this claim from CBD reps, it really irks me. There are many really awesome companies out there right now, with more being established every day. Over the past year, I’ve had the opportunity to try out many different products, and I’m still hard-pressed to pick a favorite because there have been so many effective ones. When they tell you their CBD is the only one to consider, back away!
  • Hemp oil is better than CBD – One persistent rep is going around trying to tell everyone that hemp oil is better than CBD oil. Here is the difference between the two, and despite multiple attempts to educate, they are sticking with it.
  • Breast milk contains more THC than hemp – Ugh. So this is from the same rep that is trying to claim hemp oil is better than CBD oil. I shouldn’t have to explain this one, but the ONLY way that THC is getting into breast milk is if the mother consumes it. The industrial hemp plant, which most of the world’s CBD comes from, does contain THC, just in very low amounts.
  • CBD oil has no side effects – Yes, it does. Like any other substance you put in your body, there are a few side effects to watch out for. Check out this post for more information on the subject.
  • CBD oil won’t interact with any medications you are on – This one especially, people need to pay attention to. CBD works in much the same way as grapefruit does when it comes to your medications and can have serious consequences if taken with certain ones. Drugs.com is a great place to check for any interactions and ALWAYS check with a doctor before starting CBD if you are currently on any medications.
  • Full Spectrum is the only way to go – While the “Entourage Effect” is real and shows that whole plant extracts can be more effective, Full Spectrum contains THC and can not be taken by everyone, especially those who are drug tested.
  • CBD must contain only 2-3 ingredients; anything else is “junk” or “fillers” – This claim is everywhere. And it absolutely false. Different products contain ingredients specifically targeting energy levels, some that are designed for better sleep, some with added ingredients to help with pain, etc. There are also claims that hemp seed oil is the ONLY carrier oil to be used to be effective, but there are plenty of other suitable carrier oils used for CBD, including MCT or coconut oil. As long as the company is providing up to date, accurate 3rd party testing on their products, it will contain CBD and might have some extra added benefits in there.

These are just a few. There are many other outlandish claims that I’ve seen floating around, but we would be here all day if I tried to list them all.

The people who join these companies rarely take the time to do their own research and instead choose to share information that their up lines have spoon-fed them. I see it time and time again from the reps, all sharing the same bogus information.

Take the time to do your research on anything that you will be putting into your body, especially with something that contains a substance that is still highly illegal in many parts of the world. Here is a list of guidelines that you absolutely need to be following when you are looking to buy CBD oil, and having accurate 3rd party testing is a MUST!

So how do I know if a CBD company is an MLM or not?

MLM CBD companies can be hard to spot sometimes. Some dead giveaways include:

  • Any phrasing along the lines of – Side gig, opportunity, join our team, financial freedom, work for yourself/be your own boss, get paid to promote, etc., will likely be an MLM.
  • PM me for more info – Anyone who asks you to PM(private message) them in a group about a product and won’t directly share it with the rest of the group is likely part of an MLM company and trying to sell to you. This is rampant in almost every Facebook group that I am a part of and is becoming more and more frustrating, especially when it comes to CBD products.
  • Referral required – You shouldn’t need a referral to sign up for any company to purchase their products. This information and access should be readily available on the site.

You can also Google the company name and MLM, the information will pop up right away on whether or not it is one.

Here is a list of SOME of the MLM CBD companies operating right now:

  • Hempworx
  • Kannaway
  • Hemp Herbals
  • Dose of Nature
  • Bocannaco
  • Zilis
  • Prime My Body
  • Isodiol
  • First Fitness Nutrition
  • CTFO
  • Nutritional High
  • Biocare
  • Hemplavate
  • Young Living

All of the products in companies like these are generally overpriced and can be found elsewhere for much cheaper. They are priced this way to reflect affiliate payouts.

Many legit CBD companies who don’t follow the MLM business model regularly run promotions and deals that can save you some serious cash. A number of them offer assistance programs for veterans, first responders, and people on long-term disability and low-income households. These discounts can go up to 60% off, so make sure to shop around and see if you are eligible!

There are all sorts of different price points to CBD oil, and there are products available for every budget.

Ready to check out some awesome non-MLM CBD companies?

All of the companies on our recommended list are 100% MLM free, organic, 3rd party tested, and come backed by thousands upon thousands of positive reviews. They have been chosen for their quality, commitment to the community, and providing only the safest products, they have the interest of the consumer at heart, and they don’t mess around when it comes to CBD.

MLM and CBD. Two things that definitely don't go together. Joining an MLM CBD company is one of the worst ways to get into the industry; find out why.