FDA Statements on Cannabidiol (CBD) Products
What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD The FDA is working to answer questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds, particularly CBD. Cannabis is a plant of the Cannabaceae family and contains more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds. The most commonly known compounds are delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the component that produces the “high” associated with marijuana use. Much interest has been seen around CBD and its potential related to health benefits.
Marijuana is different from CBD. CBD is a single compound in the cannabis plant, and marijuana is a type of cannabis plant or plant material that contains many naturally occurring compounds, including CBD and THC. The FDA has approved only one CBD product, a prescription drug product to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. It is currently illegal to market CBD by adding it to a food or labeling it as a dietary supplement. The FDA has seen only limited data about CBD safety and these data point to real risks that need to be considered before taking CBD for any reason. Some CBD products are being marketed with unproven medical claims and are of unknown quality. The FDA will continue to update the public as it learns more about CBD. Potential harm, side effects and unknowns: CBD has the potential to harm you, and harm can happen even before you become aware of it. CBD can cause liver injury. CBD can affect how other drugs you are taking work, potentially causing serious side effects. Use of CBD with alcohol or other drugs that slow brain activity, such as those used to treat anxiety, panic, stress, or sleep disorders, increases the risk of sedation and drowsiness, which can lead to injuries. Male reproductive toxicity, or damage to fertility in males or male offspring of women who have been exposed, has been reported in studies of animals exposed to CBD. CBD can cause side effects that you might notice. These side effects should improve when CBD is stopped or when the amount used is reduced. Changes in alertness, most commonly experienced as somnolence (drowsiness or sleepiness).Gastrointestinal distress, most commonly experienced as diarrhea and/or decreased appetite.Changes in mood, most commonly experienced as irritability and agitation.There are many important aspects about CBD that we just don’t know, such as: What happens if you take CBD daily for sustained periods of time?What level of intake triggers the known risks associated with CBD?How do different methods of consumption affect intake (e.g., oral consumption, topical , smoking or vaping)?What is the effect of CBD on the developing brain (such as on children who take CBD)?What are the effects of CBD on the developing fetus or breastfed newborn?How does CBD interact with herbs and other plant materials?Does CBD cause male reproductive toxicity in humans, as has been reported in studies of animals? The FDA continues to believe the drug approval process represents the best way to ensure that safe and effective new medicines, including any drugs derived from cannabis, are available to patients in need of appropriate medical therapy. The agency is committed to supporting the development of new drugs, including cannabis and cannabis-derived drugs, through the investigational new drug and drug approval process. We are aware that there may be some products on the market that add CBD to a food or label CBD as a dietary supplement. Under federal law, it is illegal to market CBD this way. The FDA is evaluating the regulatory frameworks that apply to certain cannabis-derived products that are intended for non-drug uses, including whether and/or how the FDA might consider updating its regulations, as well as whether potential legislation might be appropriate. The information we have underscores the need for further study and high quality, scientific information about the safety and potential uses of CBD. The FDA is committed to setting sound, science-based policy. The FDA is raising these safety, marketing, and labeling concerns because we want you to know what we know. We encourage consumers to think carefully before exposing themselves, their family, or their pets, to any product, especially products like CBD, which may have potential risks, be of unknown quality, and have unproven benefits. Our Consumer Update includes a practical summary of what we know to date. As we learn more, our goal is to update you with the information you need to make informed choices about CBD products. Also, as the regulatory pathways are clarified we will take care to inform all stakeholders as quickly as possible.
FDA Regulation of Cannabis and Cannabis-Derived Products, Including Cannabidiol (CBD) There is a significant interest in the development of therapies and other consumer products derived from cannabis and its components, including cannabidiol (CBD). FDA recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities. However, FDA is aware that some companies are marketing products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and that may put the health and safety of consumers at risk. The agency is committed to protecting the public health while also taking steps to improve the efficiency of regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products. FDA has a number of resources available that address cannabis and cannabis-derived products, such as CBD, and the agency wants to ensure that consumers and other stakeholders have access to these resources in a centralized location.
Some CBD Products are Being Marketed with Unproven Medical Claims and Could be Produced with Unsafe Manufacturing Practices
Unlike the FDA-approved CBD drug product, unapproved CBD products, which could include cosmetics, foods, products marketed as dietary supplements, and any other product (other than Epidiolex) making therapeutic claims, have not been subject to FDA evaluation regarding whether they are effective to treat a particular disease or have other effects that may be claimed. In addition, they have not been evaluated by the FDA to determine what the proper dosage is, how they could interact with other drugs or foods, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns. Misleading, unproven, or false claims associated with CBD products may lead consumers to put off getting important medical care, such as proper diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care. For that reason, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best way to treat diseases or conditions with available FDA-approved treatment options. In addition to safety risks and unproven claims, the quality of many CBD products may also be in question. The FDA is also concerned that a lack of appropriate processing controls and practices can put consumers at additional risks. For example, the agency has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed. We are also investigating reports of CBD potentially containing unsafe levels of contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, THC).
CBD products are also being marketed for pets and other animals. The FDA has not approved CBD for any use in animals and the concerns regarding CBD products with unproven medical claims and of unknown quality equally apply to CBD products marketed for animals. The FDA recommends pet owners talk with their veterinarians about appropriate treatment options for their pets. The FDA’s top priority is to protect the public health. This priority includes making sure consumers know about products that put their health and safety at greatest risk, such as those claiming to prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate, or cure serious diseases. For example, the agency has warned companies to stop selling CBD products they claim are intended to prevent, diagnose, treat, mitigate, or cure serious diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders and diabetes. While we have focused on these types of products, we will continue to monitor the marketplace for any product that poses a risk to public health, including those with dangerous contaminants, those marketed to vulnerable populations, and products that otherwise put the public health at risk.