FDA admits that CBD has medical benefit

The federal agency is asking for public comment on how the WHO should schedule cannabidiol


The World Health Organization (WHO) is reconsidering its stance on CBD, and it’s asking the FDA for advice. The FDA in turn is asking for public comment.

The WHO will use the information to either loosen or tighten restrictions on cannabidiol (CBD), and 16 other substances, including ketamine. This process will not have a direct effect on how the U.S. federal government classifies CBD.

However, the big news is that the notice published by the FDA includes the statement, “CBD has been shown to be beneficial in experimental models of several neurological disorders, including those of seizure and epilepsy.”

That statement is at odds with CBD’s classification as a Schedule 1 drug, which by definition means that it has no medicinal benefits. That seems to pit the FDA against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The DEA issued a rule last December that doubled down on the Controlled Substances Act definition that says all products of cannabis or hemp plants (which are the same species) are Schedule 1 narcotics — even the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD. That rule prompted a lawsuit from hemp industry groups.

How CBD is treated by the federal and state legal systems is a complicated topic. Lee Johnson offers a brief rundown of the policy issues in his article, “CBD and Hemp Oil Explained.

Opinions on CBD? Comment!


Meanwhile, the FDA is requesting “interested persons to submit comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of” CBD and 16 other substances.

If you’ve had good — or bad — experiences with CBD, you can visit the Regulations.gov docket to comment. The deadline is Sept. 13.

Jim McDonald
I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.
  • fiona.

    I’ve definitely found using CBD beneficial for lessening the effects of post exertional fatigue and malaise associated with ME/CFS. I mainly use oil as drops under my tongue but I also vape as a top up. There has been a lot of hype in recent years and for good reason. CBD without the THC is beneficial for everyday functioning and it of course lacks the recreational use that traditional cannabis provides. I’ve found that some people with prior experience of cannabis will gravitate towards CBD but equally so do others who are wishing to avoid the high but get some pain relief and anti inflammatory properties.

  • Seth Legnini

    Dear Jim,
    I have severe temporal lobe seizures that can only be controlled by CBD. I have recently been exported from California to New York to be with my family, where medical marijuana is unavailable, causing the frequency and severity of my seizures to increase dramatically. Is there any chance a law suit would speed up the legalization process, and if so, would you like to assist me in the process?

    • Jim McDonald

      I certainly hope you’re able to get the product you need to help your seizures. You need to speak to an attorney about the possibility of a lawsuit. You might try contacting a local pro-cannabis organization for names of sympathetic lawyers. You might want to also volunteer for orgs that are working to change the state laws.