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.