The market for cannabidiol (CBD) products is booming but new research by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) shows that consumers are confused about what CBD is, what it does and whether CBD products are safe. 

What’s more, with one in three Americans using CBD, the overwhelming majority (76 percent) assumes CBD products are subject to federal regulations and safety oversight when, in fact, no such regulations exist.

Instead, today’s multibillion-dollar CBD industry operates within a patchwork system of state regulations. Upon learning no federal agency oversees CBD products, 82  percent of Americans expressed alarm, 67 percent of whom say they are “extremely” or “very” concerned. Another 84 percent are worried about the varying regulations that could result from the current state-by-state patchwork system.

“It is the role of federal agencies to ensure a safe and transparent consumer marketplace, but the CBD market is currently the Wild West,” says GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “Without a uniform federal regulatory framework in place, consumers lack the basic information they need to make informed decisions about CBD. GMA will build a broad-based coalition and lead an aggressive campaign to protect consumers by advancing regulatory clarity.”

GMA’s survey reveals that six in 10 Americans are familiar with CBD, but confusion is rampant. Nearly four in 10 Americans (39 percent) incorrectly believe CBD is just another name for cannabis and more than half mistakenly think it can get you “high.” Despite clear confusion, two-thirds (66 percent) of Americans say they believe it is safe.

Survey respondents use CBD for a variety of different reasons — most commonly for pain management (52 percent), stress or anxiety reduction (50 percent) and sleep issues (43 percent). And, despite the lack of reliable research, testing or uniform regulatory oversight, 21 percent report using CBD to alleviate cancer symptoms or treat the effects of a neurological disorder. To date, CBD has only been approved by the FDA for use in the treatment of epilepsy.

“CBD is a case study in the federal government’s struggle to keep pace with consumer demand,” said Betsy Booren, GMA’s senior vice president, regulatory and technical affairs. “Industry and consumers alike need government to determine safety and provide regulatory clarity. Until this occurs, the most trusted, experienced and highly regulated brands cannot enter the market.”

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