With CBD showing up everywhere, U.S. regulators announced Tuesday they are exploring ways the marijuana extract could be used legally in foods, dietary supplements and cosmetics.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it will hold a public hearing May 31 to gather more information on the science, manufacturing and sale of cannabis compounds like CBD.
In the meantime, it issued more warning letters to companies for making unapproved health claims about CBD products.
Products containing CBD are already in stores and sold online, so it’s easy to believe there must be something special about the ingredient. But the claims are largely unproven and quality control standards don’t exist.
A look at what we know as U.S. regulators work out what will and won’t be allowed:
CBD is one of more than 100 compounds found in marijuana. It’s extracted using alcohol or carbon dioxide in factories. It’s added to oils, mixed into creams and lotions and sold in candies and liquid drops.
Widely sold online, CBD now is going mainstream with major retailers offering salves and balms for the skin. Prices range from $12 to $150 an ounce at high-end shops.
CBD often comes from a cannabis plant known as hemp, which is defined by the U.S. government as having less than 0.3% THC. That’s important because THC is what causes marijuana’s mind-altering effect.
CBD doesn’t get people high, although it may be calming. Keep in mind some CBD products may contain THC, whether or not the label says so.
People drug tested for work, addiction programs or because they take prescription opioids should take note: CBD products have caused people to fail urine drug screens.
If you believe the hype, CBD treats pain, relieves anxiety and both helps you sleep and keeps you focused.
Most claims are based on studies in rats, mice or in test tubes. Some human research has been done, but in small numbers of people.
One exception: For two rare seizure disorders, the evidence for CBD was strong enough to convince the FDA to approve GW Pharmaceutical’s drug Epidiolex, which contains a purified form.
The FDA announced Tuesday it has sent warning letters to three companies marketing products with what outgoing Commissioner Scott Gottlieb called “egregious, over-the-line claims” for CBD’s effects on cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia and drug addiction. Among the cited examples: “CBD successfully stopped cancer cells” in cervical cancer.
Scant research means not much is known about side effects either. In epilepsy research, CBD changed the way the body processed other drugs. That suggests CBD could interact with medications in ways we still don’t know about.