UK food regulators have slashed the recommended daily intake of CBD to just 10mg a day in a blow for the industry in Britain and beyond.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Standards Scotland have issued “precautionary advice” to limit the consumption of CBD after warning of liver damage and thyroid issues associated with the long-term use of cannabidiol.
The regulatory bodies cited “new evidence from the industry and updated advice from our independent scientific committee”.
The previous recommended maximum daily dose for healthy adults was 70mg.
FSA chief scientific advisor, Professor Robin May, said: “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.
“We encourage consumers to check the CBD content on the product label to monitor their overall daily consumption of CBD and consider if they wish to make changes to how much they take based on this updated advice.”
The FSA, which is not requesting any products be withdrawn from sale, said 10mg equates to about four to five drops of 5% CBD oil.
The updated advice has been based on findings from the Committee on Toxicity and the Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, two independent science committees, the FSA said.
It follows a review of the safety evidence submitted by CBD companies as part of their novel foods applications to the FSA. Several Australian products are included on a public list of approved CBD products that can be sold in the UK although none have yet been formally authorised.
While acknowledging there is “no acute safety risk” from consuming more than 10mg of CBD a day, there is evidence of some adverse impacts on the liver and thyroid if taking more than this amount over a period of time, the regulator concluded.
FSA chief executive Emily Miles said: “We have always advised the public to think carefully about taking edible CBD products and, as with all foods, we continue to review our advice based on the evidence we gather from industry.
“We understand that this change to our advice will have implications for products currently on the market that contain more than 10mg of CBD per serving. We will be working closely with industry to minimise the risk, to ensure consumers are not exposed to potentially harmful levels of CBD.”
Yet the move is likely to draw criticism from the industry and even those in the scientific community.
In September, a scientific review commissioned by Canopy Group and Charlotte’s Web recommended a maximum daily dose of 160mg a day, 10mg more than the 150mg the Therapeutic Goods Administration approved for over-the-counter CBD in Australia.
However, no products have yet been registered with the TGA for pharmacy sales, with only Bod Science so far able to demonstrate any statistically relevant benefits of CBD – for sleep – over a placebo.
Executive director of the Cannabis Trades Association, Marika Graham-Woods, criticised the FSA’s move.
Quoted in The Guardian, she said: “All this does is frighten consumers and retailers and it stops the industry going forward again. I don’t see any benefit in what they have done.”