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Cannabidiol (CBD)

Information for consumers about CBD

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.

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:

  • Oils
  • Drops or tinctures
  • Capsules
  • Sweets and confectionery
  • Baked goods
  • Drinks

How safe is CBD?

Like all new products and ingredients, foods containing CBD must be evaluated for safety, and authorised and approved as a novel food before they can be sold.

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.

Consumer advice

The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) published a report on the safety of CBD.

Based on this research, we recommend the following advice for consumers in relation to CBD.

Advice for vulnerable groups 

We continue to research the safety of CBD in food products and, as a precaution, we do not recommend CBD for people in vulnerable groups unless under medical direction. 

These include: 

  • pregnant and breastfeeding women 
  • people taking any medication  

Advice for healthy adults 

Some scientific studies have found that CBD  can affect the liver if taken in at higher doses. As a precaution, we recommend that healthy adults do not take more than 70mg a day, which is about 28 drops of 5% CBD, unless a doctor agrees more. 

This doesn’t mean that these levels are definitely safe, but that the most recent evidence we have suggests adverse health effects could potentially be seen above this. 

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.

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