FTC Issues New Round of Warning Letters Over CBD Health Claims

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Image: Mark Van Scyoc / Shuttestock.com

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sent out warning letters to companies making unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of their CBD products.

This is not the first time letters have been sent this year by the FTC. Although the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (farm bill), which was implemented in December, resulted in hemp and hemp-derived substances no longer being classified as a controlled substance, it did state that CBD producers should not add CBD to edible products and that companies need to avoid promoting unsubstantiated medical claims. 

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As part of its regular monitoring of health-related advertising claims, the Federal Trade Commission today sent warning letters to three companies that sell oils, tinctures, capsules, ‘gummies,’ and creams containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant,” the FTC said in a release. The agency went on to say “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 many consumers have been using CBD for a variety of ailments including insomnia, chronic pain, and anxiety, federal prohibition has largely kept cannabinoid research suppressed, meaning CBD’s true medicinal value has not been quantified through academic research. The FTC is urging companies not to make CBD health claims without evidence.

“One company’s website claims CBD ‘works like magic’ to relieve ‘even the most agonizing pain’ better than prescription opioid painkillers,” the agency said. “To bolster its claims that CBD has been ‘clinically proven’ to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), fibromyalgia, cigarette addiction, and colitis, the company states it has participated in ‘thousands of hours of research’ with Harvard researchers.”

The FTC sent another letter out to a company that claims its gummies are “highly effective at treating ‘the root cause of most major degenerative diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, fibromyalgia, cancer, asthma, and a wide spectrum of autoimmune disorders.’”

In another letter, the FTC warned a company about claims on its website that its products “are proven to treat autism, anorexia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), stroke, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain injuries, diabetes, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, MS, fibromyalgia, cancer, and AIDS.”

The FTC has elected to not publicize names of the companies to which the letters were issued. The agency has instructed those who received letters to notify them of any action taken to address the FTC’s requests within fifteen days.

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