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FDA Questions CBD Product Safety, Claims Could Be Unfit for Human Consumption

Kimberly Martin, PhD

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FDA Questions CBD Product Safety, Claims Could Be Unfit for Human Consumption

The cannabis industry is among the fastest-growing industries in America. The United States passed the Farm Bill legalizing the industrial production of Hemp and hemp-extracted CBD products. With the legalization of cannabis for different purposes, the marijuana industry has been flooded with companies producing all sorts of CBD-infused products.

Statistically, the industry has been performing pretty well. CBD sales in the United States have significantly increased. The U.S recorded CBD sales worth $600 million in the year 2018, and according to predictions by Brightfield Group, the sales are expected to reach $23.7 billion by the year 2023. Compounded annually, that is over 100% growth rate within the five years, which has attracted cannabis investors.

Companies have been investing heavily in the industry as investors are willing to pump more funds into promising cannabis market. Tilray spent $419 million Canadian in the acquisition of Manitoba Harvest, a hemp food producing company, while Canopy Growth poured $150 million on the New York-based hemp-processing company.

However, regulatory authorities have begun questioning the safety of CBD products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently released a report claiming that the majority of the CBD product in the market are unsafe for human consumption. The FDA is contesting the use of CBD in beverages, supplements, and foods. This announcement was not happy news to investors and most consumers.

The consumer updates by the FDA show that CBD can cause bodily harm besides other long-term effects after long-term use of cannabinoids. CBD is a primary compound found in cannabis and hemp plants alongside THC, but unlike the latter, CBD is non-psychoactive and does not cause a “high” effect on its users. CBD is popularly known for its medical benefits, among them, being the ability to relieve pain and anxiety as well as curing nausea related to chemotherapy procedures.

According to the consumer report dated November 25, the FDA reported that CBD is likely to cause liver-related injuries. The regulator also claims that frequent long-term use of CBD can lead to grievous side effects, especially when consumed while under other medications. Some of the products contain contaminants such as pesticides and heavy metals that are harmful to human health. The FDA deems CBD to be unsafe for human consumption.

The health authorities also claim that CBD products targeting children are likely to interfere with their health since their bodies may experience severe reactions during absorption, metabolization, and excretion of CBD. The same is also likely to happen in animals fed with CBD-infused feeds.

The FDA reviewed Epidiolex, a CBD drug manufactured by GW Pharmaceuticals, and found out that despite the claims that the drug reduced seizure frequency in epilepsy patients, it also had the potential of causing liver damage.

In a press release dated November 25, the FDA issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegal sales of CBD contrary to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. A similar letter had been sent to Curaleaf Holdings, a dispensary operator in different states, in May 2019 for selling CBD with unsubstantial claims illegally.

Most players in the cannabis industry believe that the FDA’s fears are solely inclined toward the vape-health crisis that affected about 2,300 vape users and leaving about 48 dead. The agency does not want to take chances on the CBD matter so as not to compromise the health of the public. If the FDA is pushing this further, it might become challenging to infuse CBD in foods and beverages in the U.S. Producers are however left with the option of turning to CBD oils such as topicals so long as they do not make sensational medical claims.

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