Companies and consumers are talking in a different way these days about cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. But even as the conversation changes, one thing remains the same. Before making claims about purported health effects of CBD products, advertisers need sound science to support their statements. That’s the message of warning letters FTC staff just sent to three businesses that sell oils, creams, capsules, and gummies that contain CBD.
The companies sell different products, but a common theme in their ads is the emphasis on CBD as a treatment or cure for serious diseases. Some of the ads even specified medical conditions like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, heart disease, and stroke.
The gist of the warning letters is that the companies should review their product promises – including representations conveyed through testimonials – to ensure they’re backed up by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Like any other advertiser, CBD sellers who make unsubstantiated health claims could be subject to law enforcement. The letters instruct the companies to contact FTC staff within 15 days with the specifics of how they’re addressing the agency’s concerns.
If your company or clients are following developments in the CBD marketplace, the letters shouldn’t come as a surprise. In March 2019, the FTC and FDA sent similar letters to other CBD sellers. The takeaway tip for anyone in the industry is that established FTC substantiation standards apply when advertisers make health-related representations for CBD products.
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The warning letters do not represent the FTC’s judgment about the quality of particular CBD brands. It's best to be highly skeptical about the extreme health claims that some CBD sellers are making about their products. If a company is marketing CBD for the treatment or prevention of serious diseases or disorders, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, or fibromyalgia, chances are there is little or no scientific support to back up those claims.
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In reply to How is a company that wishes by UTA-Advertiser
The FTC does not enforce the laws governing the permissibility of selling CBD products in interstate commerce. We regulate advertising claims about CBD products already on the market. Claims about the health benefits of a CBD product, as with any other product, must be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The quantity and quality of that evidence varies by claim. In general, claims that a CBD product treats or prevents serious diseases or disorders or provides other drug-like health benefits (e.g., improves memory, prevents age-related cognitive decline) require human clinical trials. If the advertiser is unable to amass such evidence due to regulatory or financial hurdles, then it should not make these types of claims.
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