Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of hundreds of naturally occurring cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant from which hemp and marijuana are derived. Though CBD is found in marijuana, it is not intoxicating. There are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, and quality of products containing CBD.
Not approved by food and drug administration (FDA) & unsubstantiated health claims
There is no evidence confirming the many health claims of CBD. The FDA has not approved any CBD products except for one prescription drug, Epidiolex, to treat rare, severe forms of seizure disorders in children. Other than Epidiolex, CBD products have not been evaluated or approved by FDA for use as drug products. This means that we do not know:
- If they are safe and effective to treat a particular disease
- What, if any, dosage may be considered safe
- How they could interact with other drugs or foods
- Whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns
Serious side effects
The clinical studies that supported the approval of the one available CBD drug product identified risks related to the use of CBD, including liver toxicity (damage), extreme sleepiness, and harmful interactions with other drugs. These are serious risks that can be managed when an FDA-approved CBD drug product is taken under medical supervision, but it is less clear how these risks might be managed when CBD is used far more widely, without medical supervision and not in accordance with FDA-approved labeling.
CBD products purchased in smoke shops, vape shops, health stores, or online, are not regulated or approved by the FDA. Thus, there is a potential for CBD products to be contaminated with THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana, and other harmful substances. There are reports of CBD potentially containing other contaminants (e.g., pesticides, heavy metals, bacteria, and fungus). The FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain CBD. As part of these actions, FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain.
CBD and the Workplace
CBD is unregulated and has the potential to contain a higher than allowable amount of THC in the product. There is a risk that an employee that uses consumable CBD, not topical products, may produce a positive drug test result. Employees should be wary of any marijuana-based product including CBD.