The market for cannabidiol (CBD) products may be booming, but new research released by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Arlington, Va., shows that consumers are confused about what CBD is, what it does and whether CBD products are safe. More concerning, with one in three Americans using CBD, the majority (76%) assumes CBD products are subject to federal regulations and safety oversight when, in fact, no such regulations exist.

Upon learning no federal agency oversees CBD products, 82% of Americans expressed alarm, 67% of whom say they are “extremely” or “very” concerned. Another 84% 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 Geoff Freeman, president and CEO. “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. Four in 10 Americans (39%) incorrectly believe CBD is just another name for marijuana, and more than half mistakenly think it can get you “high.” Despite clear confusion, two-thirds (66%) of Americans say they believe it is safe.

Survey respondents use CBD for a variety of different reasons — most commonly for pain management (52%), stress or anxiety reduction (50%) and sleep issues (43%). And, despite the lack of reliable research, testing or uniform regulatory oversight, 21% 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,” says Dr. Betsy Booren, 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.”

Consumers want federal oversight of the CBD market. Eight in 10 survey respondents (79%) believe CBD products should be regulated at the federal level, or federally in concert with the states. Over the coming months, GMA’s advocacy campaign will urge the FDA to move quickly to establish uniform federal regulations overseeing CBD products.

Nearly 70% of respondents also indicated that they would be more confident in the safety of CBD products if they were manufactured by large, well-known brands. Those consumers believe well-known brands have more safety controls in place (55%), employ higher manufacturing standards (54%), would be more cautious to avoid brand damage (53%) and have more experience in making high-quality, consistent products (53%).