What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid which can be extracted from the cannabis plant and added to foods.
It has no psychoactive properties and, depending on the method of extraction, should contain little or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other key compound in cannabis which causes users to get high.
Read the Home Office guidance on the licensing of CBD and presence of THC.
During the past few years there has been significant growth in the number of products sold that contain CBD. These food products are classed as ‘novel foods’ and CBD may be found in a variety of food products and supplements including, but not limited to:
- drops or tinctures
- sweets and confectionery
- baked goods
More information on novel foods.
How safe is CBD?
Like all new products and ingredients, foods containing CBD require pre-market safety assessment and authorisation by Scottish Ministers as novel foods before they can be legally placed and sold on the Scottish market. No CBD food products have yet been authorised as novel foods in Scotland.
At Food Standards Scotland we are working closely with local authorities to keep the safety of CBD food products under review and to ensure that products labelled as containing CBD do so.
If you have any concerns about food products containing CBD that are sold in your area, please contact your local authority.
Find local authority contact details.
Since our original consumer advice in February 2020, we have asked the CBD industry, through the novel foods process, to provide data specific to CBD use in food as part of the safety assessment on these products. On 12 October 2023, the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) and the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes (ACNFP) released a joint statement on CBD food products.
Access the COT and ACNFP's joint statement on CBD food products.
COT and ACNFP have been reviewing the safety evidence submitted as part of the novel food process. Our updated advice is based on the review of this evidence by these independent Scientific Advisory Committees (SAC). Based on this research, we recommend the following advice for consumers in relation to CBD.
Advice for vulnerable groups
Based on the information we have, we advise consumers to think carefully before taking any CBD products. As a precaution, we do not recommend CBD for people in vulnerable groups, unless under medical direction.
These groups include:
- children (those under the age of 18)
- people taking any medication
- those trying to conceive
- those who are pregnant or breast feeding
Advice for healthy adults
In October 2023, based on the new evidence gathered, FSS issued updated precautionary advice on CBD, recommending healthy adults should limit their consumption of CBD from food to 10mg per day, which is about 4-5 drops of 5% CBD oil. This replaces our previous advice issued in February 2020.
This change in advice is based on new evidence from the industry and updated advice from our independent scientific committee.
The updated advice has been based on the average lifetime exposure to food products containing CBD, such as drinks, oils, sweets, bakery items or drops. Some products available on the market will have a higher level of CBD per serving than 10mg a day, therefore consumers should check labels and consider their daily intake in light of this updated advice.
The more CBD you consume over your lifetime, the more likely you are to develop long-term adverse effects, like liver damage or thyroid issues. The level of risk is related to how much you take, in the same way it is with some other potentially harmful products such as alcoholic drinks.
Access our update to consumer advice for CBD food products.
The COT and the ACNFP published advice on CBD in October 2023. These SACs will continue to monitor new data and if this changes their views, FSS will consider impacts on consumer advice.
Access the COT and ACNFP’s October 2023 joint statement on CBD food products.
Our previous advice was based on an original report published by the COT in February 2020 and their position paper on the potential risk of CBD in CBD food products in July 2020.
Access the original report which our previous advice was based on.
Access the COT and ACNFP’s original position paper on the potential risk of CBD in food products.
Who is responsible for the regulation of CBD?
Food Standards Scotland has regulatory responsibility for CBD used in food products.
Products containing the psychoactive substance Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) above legal limits, with limited exemptions, are classed as controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act and for Police Scotland and the Home Office.
Medicinal use of CBD is the remit of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, and most other uses of CBD such as for vaping are for Trading Standards.