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Labeling with Love or Lethal Consequences for CBD Containing Products

Event Dates
Event Duration
1 Hour

In this presentation, Dr. Lawrance Mullen will provide a landscape of the public health impact of cannabidiol (CBD), the importance of proper analytical techniques to prevent false positive drug tests, and the results of a study conducted on acidic foods and beverages. 

Cannabidiol, an isomer of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), has seen proliferation of use in foods, beverages, tinctures, oils, emollients, and dietary supplements due to the passing of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the Farm Bill. The legislative act reauthorized hemp-derived products that contain less than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. Although not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a dietary supplement or food additive, CBD containing products are often marketed as remedies for a range of medical conditions and are touted for their potential health benefits. The availability of these CBD based products has raised many questions regarding the accuracy of labeling and content of CBD, as well as whether conversion of CBD to THC can occur in acidic foods and beverages.  

Although, the FDA has approved the use of CBD in the form of prescription Epidiolex® for the treatment of seizures, currently there is no regulatory oversight by the Federal Government to ensure the accuracy of label information and marketing claims for “over-the-counter” products containing CBD. Several studies have examined the accuracy of labeling and THC content of CBD containing products available online and at national retailers. Recently, Spindle et al. (2022) reviewed over 100 topical products purchased from retail locations and from online sources. The study concluded that a significant number of topical CBD based products inaccurately described CBD content and contained THC.  

Another area lacking regulation and oversight is CBD-infused foods and beverages as well as dietary supplements. With the market highly publicizing CBD based products, one concern has been the potential for unintentional isomerization of CBD to THC in the acidic environment found in certain foods and beverages. In a recent study conducted by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Laboratory Certification Program (NLCP) an experiment was conducted using a THC-free CBD source material and several food and beverage products with a pH less than four to determine if THC would be produced in situ.  

Incorrect labeling and/or conversion of CBD to THC in consumer products can lead to ingestion of THC even when using a CBD product advertised as “THC-free”. Even if the amount of THC is <0.3%, such ingestion can lead to impairment and/or positive drug tests, including court ordered, workplace, and driving under the influence (DUID) testing. 

This work was funded by Division of Workplace Programs, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration through the National Laboratory Certification Program [contract numbers S277201800001C and 75S20122C00002]. 

Detailed Learning Objectives

  1. Attendees will recognize the implications of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) on drug testing and technological advances. 
  2. Attendees will be able to discuss the effects of an acidic environment in foods or beverages on THC-Free CBD and its potential to convert to THC. 
  3. Attendees will be able to describe the potential of CBD based products to interfere with drug tests - court ordered, workplace, DUID (urine) tests. 

Date Created: April 28, 2023