Child Psychiatry Consult

CBD for sleep and anxiety – A brief review of the evidence


While preliminary results are promising, administration of CBD to children and youth in particular still raises some concerns.

  • There is potential lack of clarity regarding legality of use in some states. Based on federal law, it is legal to possess CBD derived from hemp, but state laws may differ.
  • There is lack of oversight regarding monitoring what is in each supplement. Lab testing for CBD to determine contents is not mandatory in every state. The amount of active compound as well as other ingredients may not be consistent or accurate. According to the FDA, CBD-containing products cannot claim to have health benefits, treat disease, or be sold as dietary supplements without its approval.
  • Clear information about appropriate dosing for children is limited.
  • Varying delivery systems could affect absorption and bioavailability of CBD.
  • Information is lacking regarding potential drug-drug interactions.
  • There is a lack of information regarding effects of long-term use.

Use of CBD is an area with significant interest and potential for growth. Although risks are thought to be low overall, there likely is insufficient evidence at this time to actively recommend its use. Additional research in human subjects exploring effective and safe dosing, tolerability, as well as use in special populations (including children, pregnant women, elderly) is needed.

Dr. Strange is an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Vermont Medical Center and University of Vermont Robert Larner College of Medicine, both in Burlington. She works with children and adolescents. She has no relevant financial disclosures. Email her at [email protected].


1. “FDA approves first drug comprised of an active ingredient derived from marijuana to treat rare, severe forms of epilepsy,” FDA news release, June 25, 2018.

2. Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. Expert Committee on Drug Dependence Fortieth Meeting. World Health Organization. Geneva June 4-7, 2018.

3. J Autism Dev Disord. 2019 Mar;49(3):1284-8.


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