Making CBD health claims? Careful Before Disseminating

Share This Page

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.


2 warning letters - no action
When is FTC or FDA actually going to take action? These letters are not a deterrent and consumers are being defrauded continuously in new, creative ways every day. Until these CBD Snake oil sales people feel it in their bank accounts, they’re never going to stop!

Why aren’t consumers given the names of companies who receive these warnings?

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.


Add new comment

Comment Policy

Privacy Act Statement

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system (PDF), and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system (PDF). We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.