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FDA Maintains Concerns About Risks of CBD Product Use

November 29, 2019

A communication from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week about illegal marketing of products containing cannabidiol (CBD) offers a clear indication of the agency's lingering concerns about the cannabis-derived compound's safety.

In announcing on Nov. 25 that it issued warning letters to 15 companies that it said are illegally marketing CBD products for therapeutic uses, the FDA stated that much remains unknown about CBD toxicity. As products containing CBD have soared in popularity, addiction treatment programs have had to field an increasing number of questions from patients about CBD's potential usefulness to alleviate pain, anxiety and other ills common in addiction and recovery.

“We remain concerned that some people wrongly think that the myriad of CBD products on the market, many of which are illegal, have been evaluated by the FDA and determined to be safe, or that trying CBD 'can't hurt,'” said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD. “Aside from one prescription drug approved to treat two pediatric epilepsy disorders, these products have not been approved by the FDA and we want to be clear that a number of questions remain regarding CBD's safety...”

A revised FDA consumer update on CBD outlines several safety-related concerns, including potential drug interactions and effects on the liver and on patient mood. The FDA says it “continues to explore potential pathways for various types of CBD products to be lawfully marketed,” and indicates it will be updating the public on its progress in the coming weeks.

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