While the FDA has been at the forefront of enforcement against sellers of cannabidiol (CBD) products, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) weighed in last week issuing warning letters to three separate businesses. According the letters, the FTC warned the businesses that sell oils, tinctures, capsules, gummies and creams containing CBD, a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant, that it is illegal to advertise that a product can prevent, treat or cure human disease without competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims.
Although the FTC did not publicly disclose the businesses, its press release indicates that each of the businesses advertised CBD products that treat or cure serious diseases and health conditions – like cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, anorexia, and more. Multiple claims were also made regarding their products effectiveness as a painkiller, in one instance claiming that CBD “works like magic” to relieve “even the most agonizing pain” better than opioids.
The FTC has given these businesses 15 days to address the concerns in the warning letters and demonstrate the health claims are supported by “competent and reliable scientific evidence.” A failure to address the FTC’s concerns may result in legal action against the businesses, including injunctions and orders to refund money to customers.
The takeaway here for CDB product sellers, manufacturers and advertisers is that they must be diligent and careful when making claims in connection with their products. Making unsubstantiated claims about the treatment, prevention or cure of a disease will expose a business and its products to regulatory scrutiny and, in some case, regulatory action. This includes statements made on labels, websites, press releases and social media accounts.
Before you print labels or post something on Instagram or Twitter about your product, you should make sure to have it reviewed for accuracy and compliance. It’s cheaper to make corrections before you go to print, then to later find out that you made a mistake and have to trash 6 months worth of labels.