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Are CBD Product Claims Proved?

The short answer is, mostly no—at least not yet. Consumers need to be “mindful that this is an unregulated industry,” Vandrey says.

Start with the fact that, according to the FDA, only drugs approved by the agency—which have undergone rigorous studies for safety and effectiveness—can make claims that they can treat or cure any disease, ranging from migraines to cancer. In other words, the manufacturer of Epidiolex can make medical claims, but makers of other CBD products on the market can’t.

And unlike prescription drugs, CBD products aren’t subject to consistent testing; instead, requirements vary from state to state. Those that have legalized the recreational and medical use of cannabis tend to have stricter standards and require testing of products before they can be sold. Such testing often includes checking for THC and CBD levels, as well as for mold, pesticides, and other contaminants. Some states with only medical cannabis laws also require some testing.

But even among those states, standards vary substantially, with some regulating cannabis products, including CBD-only ones, as if they are pharmaceutical products and others as if they are agricultural ones, says Jennifer Liebreich, at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, which works with state and federal agencies on strengthening laboratory systems and testing programs, including those for cannabis.