Cannabis investors are reeling after the US Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) announcement that CBD may not be so harmless, after all.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-psychoactive compound found in both hemp and cannabis plants. CBD doesn’t make users high like THC does, and purports to offer a range of medical benefits, like inflammation prevention, relaxation, and pain relief.
CBD products have been on the market for years across the United States. Whether in capsule, drink, or gummy form, thousands of customers consume CBD products on a regular basis. One of the biggest selling points about CBD has been that it’s relatively harmless, but the FDA says before now, it never investigated the merit of these claims.
On November 26, the FDA announced that CBD is an unknown frontier. The organization knows nothing about proper dosage or how the compound reacts with food and other drugs. In fact, the FDA suggested CBD could be harmful in several ways:
- Unknown drug interactions
- Digestion issues like diarrhea
- Male reproductive toxicity
- Liver damage
Of all the potential harms of CBD, liver damage is the FDA’s main concern—and has some data to back this up.
An enzyme called ALT is an early indicator of liver injury. The FDA tested liver function in adult users of the epilepsy drug Epidiolex, which delivers a very high dose of CBD on a daily basis. 18% of patients experienced elevated ALT levels, suggesting that CBD may have an effect on the liver in high doses. It’s worth noting that just 3% of patients taking a lower dose experienced elevated ALT levels.
Of course, Epidiolex delivers a 550 mg – 1,800 mg dose in one sitting. Most over-the-counter CBD products are in the 50 mg – 1,000 mg range. Although the FDA needs to run more tests, it’s telling CBD users to beware of CBD and remember that if it’s too good to be true, it is.
In fact, the FDA used these findings to update its guidelines on CBD. The interstate sale of food containing CBD is now illegal. Brands also can’t market CBD products as dietary supplements.
As a result of the FDA’s announcement, cannabis markets have plummeted in the week since. However, investors should know that the markets flex with circumstances; as the FDA learns more about CBD, consumers can make informed decisions about their health.