We have discussed the slow progress toward a regulatory pathway for lawfully marketing FDA-regulated food and dietary supplement products that contain cannabidiol (CBD). While CBD products remain technically illegal (aside from one FDA-approved drug), FDA is gathering information and has taken action so far only against CBD-containing products that make disease and health-related claims or contain unsafe contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides. Product labeling that may be false and misleading with regard to CBD content has meanwhile been the subject of a growing number of private lawsuits, such as the proposed class action discussed here.
The most recent Cannabis Law Report covers independent testing sponsored by Leafreport finding that of 22 beverages tested, only 4 (13%) contain the amount of CBD stated. Three products (13%) were reported to contain a level of CBD that is 20% more (2 products) or less (1 product) than stated. One product (5%) was reported to contain a level of CBD that is 30% more than stated. Fourteen products (65%) were reported to have a CBD content that differed by more than 30% from the stated level, with 3 beverages containing more CBD than stated, 9 containing less CBD than stated, and 2 products containing no detectable amount of CBD.
The results of independent testing indicating inaccurate labeling for CBD beverages is unsurprising given that FDA’s own market survey data, as discussed in a July 2020 report to Congress, has revealed that of 78 products tested which claim to contain CBD, most contained a level of CBD that differed from the labeling by more for 20%. Eleven such products contained no detectable CBD and 46 contained some level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a narcotic, including one product with THC levels so high that it was referred to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) for potential action. Until there is an FDA regulatory framework for foods or dietary supplements containing CBD, however, buyers need to be cautious.