A federal health agency published an advisory warning people of the “potential harms, side effects, and unknowns” of CBD. Their CBD warning also advises people that the products sold at dispensaries are likely to be safer than those available at gas stations and other retailers. Read on to find out more about the CBD warning. 

Unknowns in the Cannabis Market

The popularity of CBD is growing in leaps and bounds. This nonpsychotic cannabis constituent has been used more frequently by consumers since Congress’s 2018 Farm Bill legalized of hemp. Since then, the product has appeared in a variety of goods including topicals, fabrics, food, and beverages. It is currently being sold by approximately 270,000 retailers nationwide. 

One in 3 Americans reported using CDB in 2020. That number is expected to have increased in the following years. 

But despite the growing market, cannabis products remain highly unregulated. As a result, many retailers and manufacturers make false claims about its potency and purity. This has trickled down to the CBD industry at alarming rates. 

“It is critical that the general public be made aware of the potential harms associated with CBD use,” the CBD warning said, “and parents, in particular, should be advised not to let their children use non-FDA approved CBD products.

“The public should be aware of the misconceptions surrounding CBD products as well as the potential harms and risks associated with their use.”

Dangers Identified in the CBD Warning

The CBD warning is not intended to target the cannabis constituent itself. Rather, it is made to raise awareness concerning poor manufacturing processes which are especially prevalent in OTC products. These include a lack of safety standards, poor accuracy in labeling, and inconsistent quality control. 

SAMSHA issued its own CBD warning stating that concentrations, “may be more or less than advertised and, because of a lack of quality control, the manufacturing process may introduce harmful biological and chemical contaminants including the psychoactive (cannabinoid) THC.

“The lack of safety standards, accuracy in labeling, and quality control may lead to additional concerns for unintended intoxication, particularly among small children,” the report went on to say. 

The report also warned that CBD could produce “adverse drug interactions, liver toxicity, and reproductive and developmental effects.” It noted that more clinical research is needed to determine if CBD products are safe and effective. 

However, the side effects of CBD are not as dangerous as those of other prescription medications such as opioids. Several studies have shown that CBD may work as an alternative to opioids in providing pain relief. 

But CBD is yet to hit the market as a pain-relieving medication. The only FDA-approved CBD product on the market is Epidiolex which is meant to treat rare forms of epilepsy in children. Non-FDA products are marketed to treat other symptoms but not all are supported by research. 

Lawmaker Action

The CBD warning has caused the FDA to change course in allowing CBD to be marketed as a dietary supplement or food item despite that action being supported by lawmakers, advocates, and stakeholders. Instead, the agency will be working “with Congress on a new way forward.”

Are Dispensaries the Best Choice for CBD Products?

While the CBD warning is meant to make consumers leery of the products they purchase, it advised people to buy from dispensaries that are more likely to sell quality products. 

A 2019 survey shows that 40% of users purchased CBD products from marijuana dispensaries while 34% bought their CBD from different retail stores, 27% shopped online, and 12% bought it from another source. 

Dispensaries are recommended because they are typically licensed and heavily regulated by law. This means they are likely to provide better products than those available at national retailers. However, this only applies to legal dispensaries as illegal ones are not regulated. 

But the CBD warning goes on to state that you should not put blind trust in dispensaries. 

“Although regulations and enforcement vary from state to state CBD products purchased from dispensaries may be subject to some form of oversight and standardization,” the advisory stated. 

It also noted that “products sold at cannabis dispensaries are not FDA-approved and may contain more than .3% THC, depending on the state’s definition of allowable CBD products.”

Public Reaction

Consumers and members of Congress have expressed frustration over the lack of regulation of CBD products. Last September U.S. Reps. Morgan Griffith (R-VA) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Robert Califf demanding answers regarding the lack of regulation. Earlier this year, key Republican lawmaker Rep. James Comer (R-KY) pledged to hold FDA officials accountable for failing to enact CBD regulation. 

Meanwhile, other actions have been taken to keep the cannabis market more regulated. For example, the DEA recently officially determined that delta-8 THC-O and delta-9 THC-O which are found in the cannabis plant but can be produced from other natural cannabinoids would not fall under the definition of hemp and are therefore considered illegally controlled substances. 

The DEA has also been cracking down and played a major role in taking legal action against a company selling delta-THC gummies which are known to have “serious adverse effects”.