FDA says CBD not recognized as safe for food use, issues 15 warning letters


Federal health officials are standing firm against cannabidiol use in food, issuing a fresh round of warnings to companies making CBD edibles.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Monday that it “cannot conclude that CBD is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) among qualified experts for its use in human or animal food” based on the current lack of scientific information to support cannabidiol as a food ingredient.

GRAS is a distinction the FDA uses to signify that a substance has been generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe for the conditions of its intended use.

Without the GRAS designation, a food ingredient must get premarket approval and undergo review by the FDA before it can be legally sold.

The move comes on the heels of speaking engagements in the past few weeks in which top FDA officials and the nominee for FDA commissioner warned that the agency would not be hurried to rush judgment or make exceptions on CBD safety as an ingredient for food, beverages and dietary supplements. The officials also said the agency needed more scientific data to support CBD safety.

The FDA said it continues to explore potential pathways for CBD products to be marketed lawfully, including ongoing work to obtain and review data to address questions about the safety of cannabidiol products. The agency also plans to provide an update on its progress in the coming weeks.

“We recognize the significant public interest in CBD, and we must work together with stakeholders and industry to fill in the knowledge gaps about the science, safety and quality of many of these products,” said Dr. Amy Abernethy, an FDA deputy commissioner and the top official leading the CBD task force.

More warning letters issued

The agency also sent warning letters to 15 companies for illegally selling CBD products in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act and published a revised consumer update detailing its concerns about the safety of CBD products.

Under the FD&C Act, any product intended to treat a disease, has a therapeutic or medicinal use or intends to affect the structure or function of a human or animal body is a drug, the FDA reiterated.

The agency also noted it has not approved any CBD products except for Epidiolex, a prescription drug for the treatment of severe forms of epilepsy.

The companies that received warning letters were:

  • Koi CBD, Norwalk, California
  • Pink Collections, Beverly Hills, California
  • Noli Oil, Southlake, Texas
  • Natural Native, Norman, Oklahoma
  • Whole Leaf Organics, Sherman Oaks, California
  • Infinite Product Co., doing business as Infinite CBD, Lakewood, Colorado
  • Apex Hemp Oil, Redmond, Oregon
  • Bella Rose Labs, Brooklyn, New York
  • Sunflora, Tampa, Florida/Your CBD Store, Bradenton, Florida
  • Healthy Hemp Strategies, dba Curapure, Concord, California
  • Private I Salon, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Organix Industries, dba Plant Organix, San Bernardino, California
  • Red Pill Medical, Phoenix
  • Sabai Ventures, Los Angeles
  • Daddy Burt, dba Daddy Burt Hemp Co., Lexington, Kentucky

“As we work quickly to further clarify our regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD,” Abernethy said, “we’ll continue to monitor the marketplace and take action as needed against companies that violate the law in ways that raise a variety of public health concerns.”

The agency stated that there is no FDA evaluation of whether these products are effective for their intended use, guidance on proper dosage, how they may interact with FDA-approved drugs, side effects or other safety concerns or manufacturing practices.

Consumers could put off medical care because of unsubstantiated marketing claims on unapproved CBD products, the FDA warned. The companies that received warning letters had made additional claims that were flagged.

“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,’” Abernethy said.

The FDA has a history of sending warning letters to companies making unsubstantiated marketing claims about their products, giving the companies 15 working days to respond and provide information on how they will correct the violations. If they don’t the FDA threatens legal action including product seizure and injunction.

To date, there are no records of FDA taking additional action beyond sending warning letters.

The FDA’s full announcement is available here.

10 comments on “FDA says CBD not recognized as safe for food use, issues 15 warning letters
  1. Ted Stevens on

    The thing is,
    *smokes cigarette*
    the FDA doesn’t realize
    *prescribed oxycontin for a minor headache*
    that they,
    *binge drinks*
    they’ve nearly lost credibility
    *gets vaccinated. AUTISM. (many such cases!)*
    in regards to safety of these products intended for human consumption
    *eats McDonald’s, has heart attack, dies*

    • Ray on

      Nearly lost credibility? Ha, watch the commercials on all the national news networks and listen to the side effects of all the pharmaceutical drugs they pawn off on Americans. If a side effect is cancer or death and it is still allowed for human consumption than it means the FDA Sold Out.
      *smokes joint, 10 year bone cancer survivor still alive* #noopiates

  2. anonymous on

    who does the FDA primarily conduct operations with and what pool of people are considered by the FDA for GRAS ‘qualified experts’ … smells like big pharma. they’re going nuts on the sidelines, want in on the CBD market, but have to wait, this kinda pr certainly works in their favor by slowing the current market with confusion to customers and business alike.

    Other global orgs like WHO have come out and said CBD was generally safe, so will this trigger them to re-evaluate? FDA will drag it out, they made this pr because they say there is no long term scientific studies or trials, but then on same announcement, they state side effects..how can they know this if there are no long term studies available yet to substantiate? There have been some one-off studies published out there that claimed similar side effects, projectcbd.org debunked some of them, the studies required ridiculous, unrealistically high doseages by body mass percentage on mice for sustained periods.

    Big pharma will know real-time through back room networking of current/former FDA contacts what the future regulations will eventually be long before rest of market and they will be best positioned to take the market from that point.

  3. Lizette Ingersoll on

    thel last three word of next sentence are the key to it all.

    The agency also noted it has not approved any CBD products except for Epidiolex, a prescription drug

  4. Daniel on

    I wish we could shut down all government agencies ruining lives and causing farmers to commit suicide over their own corporate greed.. we do not need this shitty agency when will we ever be able to stop being controlled by our government

  5. david on

    The FDA is full of sh#t. They have approved every single drug that drug companies sell, And every one of them is more toxic than cannabis. Most all have side effects that can kill you. This is all a con job. As soon as corporate America completes the take over of the cannabis industry the rules will change and CBD will be widely accepted as a safe and healthy plant, sold everywhere.
    If safety of a consumable were the concern, sugar which is now responsible for as many deaths as tobacco and alcohol combined would be behind the counter, require a license and be very expensive.

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