High-ranking U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said Thursday that the science of CBD and other cannabinoids has become a priority for the agency, considering the wide interest in CBD and the number of products already on the market.
Dr. Amy Abernethy, a deputy commissioner of food and drugs and leader of the FDA’s CBD Working Group, made the comments to open a conference about cannabinoids and gender. She reiterated the agency’s attention on the growing public interest in CBD and other cannabis-derived products.
“Little is known about whether cannabis-derived products are beneficial for medical conditions, aside from the disorders for which drugs have been approved,” Abernethy said. “We also don’t understand how the potential benefits might outweigh their risks.”
Abernethy said there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety and quality of CBD products. According to Abernethy, the FDA sees “significant knowledge gaps” about safe levels of CBD consumption, especially in specific populations such pregnant and nursing women.
She said there are also “mounting needs” to consolidate what is known so far about CBD products and communicate the knowledge gaps to the public.
“We are committed to advancing hemp products with available regulatory pathways, and we are further exploring what additional steps may be appropriate for hemp products, such as those containing CBD, to protect patients and public health, foster innovation for safe products and promote consumer confidence.”
Abernethy said the FDA’s CBD Working Group was formed in early 2019 to address knowledge gaps around CBD products and explore potential pathways for products containing CBD so they can be lawfully marketed, and what impact such marketing would be on public health.
“Where data gaps are identified, the CBD working group is exploring how additional research can be quickly performed and do so efficiently in order to to address these critical questions of safety and effectiveness of CBD,” she said.
Abernethy said that as more is learned, the FDA will continue to update the public on the path forward, providing information based on sound science and data. This includes information on the potential differing effects of CBD on women and men.
“Women may be more likely than men to use CBD products to treat their conditions such as discomfort, anxious feelings, despondency,” Abernethy said.