CBD is a $12.8 billion industry, but there are still questions about the efficacy of cannabidiol

Willie Nelson, Mike Tyson, and Kristin Bell all sell CBD. Dozens of celebrities are promoting a popular product without FDA approval.
Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 9:55 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It can help anxiety, aid sleep or even clear up acne. That’s what some CBD advertisements claim.

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical found in marijuana and hemp plants. It doesn’t give you a high, but users and advertisers claim it can help a host of health issues.

One expert told us there’s no scientific proof it works.

Theodore Caputi is a public health researcher. He conducted a study on how some medical marijuana companies market CBD. He found they often rely on their users’ reviews and academic partnerships in advertising: not clinical research.

“People have been led to believe all sorts of [health effects] that CBD might have but that aren’t founded in scientific evidence,” Caputi said.

Caputi suggested that more companies should seek approval for use from the Food and Drug Administration: a process that requires scientific research to back up health claims.

The FDA has not approved CBD or investigated it, but it lists potential risks like liver damage and male fertility issues on its website. The Washington News Bureau reached out to the FDA to see if it’s reviewing CBD. They did not grant us an interview.

While CBD is legal, the research process involves working with cannabis, which the Drug Enforcement Administration labels a drug with no medical use.

Getting approval to work with the drug is a “burdensome” process, said Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine professor, Tory Spindle.

“We’re trying to play catch up and do all the studies now to support or refute all the things that people are using the cannabis products for already,” Spindle said.

CTPharma is the first medical marijuana company to get FDA approval for a clinical study on how its products impact stress levels.

Right now, the team at the licensed dispensary relies on third party lab data to prove safety to consumers.

“Everything has been tested. You know, you can follow up on every little product,” said Steve Cancel from CTPharma. “And on our website, we do have all that information on there as well.”

The team at CTPharma hopes the research will open doors to the future of FDA approval for the CBD industry.

The experts we spoke to recommend purchasing CBD from a licensed dispensary or retail pharmacy to guarantee it meets consumer protection standards.

Multimedia journalist Natalie Grim contributed to this report.

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