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FDA Throws Doubt On CBD's Safety In Controversial New Warning


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist



CBD is everywhere, from face creams and dog food to chocolate bars and CBD-infused pillowcases. But now, health authorities in the US now warning that many products being sold in this fledgling market could potentially be dangerous. 

On the other hand, some medical professionals and marijuana companies have pushed back against the announcement, accusing the health officials of being “inappropriately alarmist.”


The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling products containing CBD. They have also warned that they can’t guarantee many unregulated CBD products are safe due to the lack of scientific information regarding its safety, suggesting there’s some evidence that CBD supplements can cause liver damage, diarrhea, and mood changes.

CBD is short for cannabidiol, the second most prevalent of the active ingredients of cannabis. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound is not psychoactive and it doesn’t give users a fuzzy-headed high. It has been shown to hold some therapeutic benefits, especially for managing anxiety, chronic pain, nausea associated with chemotherapy, and some forms of epilepsy.

However, according to the FDA, some of the claims touted by the manufacturers are not scientifically proven and could be misleading consumers. 

“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,’ ” Amy Abernethy, FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner, said in a statement.


“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 – including reports of products containing contaminants, such as pesticides and heavy metals – and there are real risks that need to be considered,“ she added.

“This overarching approach regarding CBD is the same as the FDA would take for any other substance that we regulate.” 

One concern brought up by the health authorities was that some CBD products were marketed for kids. This dramatically increases the risk of an adverse reaction as children have many differences in the ability to absorb, metabolize, and excrete a substance like CBD. The FDA has also flagged up similar concerns with CBD products manufactured as animal food.

Nevertheless, the FDA’s announcement has proved controversial. As per Forbes, a number of cannabis companies have criticized the decision; Medical Marijuana, Inc. said disputes the claim CBD has “toxic liver effects,” while CV Sciences said the FDA’s warning had “an inappropriate alarmist tone.”


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