July 23rd, 2020
On July 8th the FDA submitted a report to Congress on the state of the US CBD marketplace, detailing the studies the agency has performed on cannabinoid content and the presence of heavy metals in CBD products over the past six years, showing widespread mislabelling of CBD content.
The report details results from sample tests conducted from 2014 to 2018, albeit with only 16 products tested per year on average. The results showed that 86% of the products detected CBD, whereas in 59% of the products THC was detected in unspecified quantities. Only 35% of the products in 2014 were deemed consistent with the labelling.
In 2019, 34 CBD products were tested, of which only 23% were labelled accurately and 38% of the products possessed THC content above detection limits although the FDA did not specify how many of the products were above the legal limit for THC. However, levels of heavy metals were not found to raise public health concerns.
In 2020, the FDA conducted a short-term study with 133 products, which was interrupted by COVID19. The actual CBD content of 55% of products was off by more than 20% versus the labelled quantity. Only 1.4% of the products with CBD in the label were found to have no CBD at all while the highest THC content found was 3.1 mg per serving.
In the report the FDA also outlines plans for a long-term study to commence this year, that will be conducted by third-party sampling and testing of cannabinoids and heavy metals, over a wider range of product formats.
The data shines a light on the standardisation issues within the supply chain, it also flags up the pressing need for enforced regulation and legislation. Somewhat ironically, the FDA’s consistent failure to clarify its long-term position on CBD products is perpetuating and even encouraging the widespread unregulated activity and inconsistency in standards.
Even though the latest developments mark some progress in the lengthy regulatory approach of the federal government towards CBD, the Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA) fears that the wide testing plan that the FDA is set to undertake will delay regulatory action to establish a lawful pathway for manufacturers to market dietary CBD products.