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expert reaction to FSA setting deadline for the CBD industry to provide more information about CBD products

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have set a deadline for the CBD industry to provide more information about CBD products. They have also issued safety advice for consumers on products containing CBD.


Dr Amir Englund, Cannabinoid psychopharmacologist at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, said:

“This is a sensible and welcomed position taken by the FSA, albeit somewhat overdue.  When CBD first appeared commercially, some products were being promoted as a panacea by retailers for a range of both physical and psychological conditions.  Often the websites provided links to scientific articles showing beneficial or promising effects in mostly animal/cell or human studies without a placebo comparison – not highlighting that such studies do not provide adequate evidence of benefit for humans.  Regulation lagged but soon these retailers were forced to remove any mention of health benefits unless the companies had run clinical trials to show their products are efficacious.  Most companies have not run clinical trials on their products.

“Another issue that has been highlighted by studies in Europe1,2, the FDA in the USA3, and a couple of UK investigations4,5 have found that many products fail to accurately label their products – a few which contain no CBD at all and some have illegal levels of THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.  A Czech investigation6 found many of the products they tested showed unsafe levels of compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are highly carcinogenic.  There have also been reports from the US cases where children and adults have been hospitalised with synthetic cannabinoid intoxication (aka Spice compounds) after using CBD products7.

“Consumers who buy these products should be aware that most health claims of these products still lack evidence, and there is no guarantee that available products are safe or contain what they claim to contain.”



Dr Michelle Carlin, Senior lecturer in forensic & analytical chemistry, Northumbria University, said:

“Little is known about the long term effect of CBD products in humans, although some data on animal studies are available.  Most of the data from animal studies is limited, however appears to show some toxicity in animals and in the development of an animal foetus when CBD has been given.  The findings and suggestions from FSA are based on studies that were carried out and reported by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food (COT) on a clinical product called Epidiolex, which is a controlled medicine with typical doses starting at 100 mg.  Most of the CBD products on the shelf, in health food stores, have dose levels beginning at 10 mg.  Much more information on the toxicology of CBD in humans and long term studies is required however, based on a report from the COT, the FSA are informing businesses to submit novel food applications to continue to sell their products.”


Declared interests

Dr Amir Englund: “I declare no conflicts of interest.”

None others received.

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