On Tuesday, the FTC issued warning letters to three companies selling CBD products. The companies, which FTC did not identify publicly, allegedly illegally advertised CBD products as being able to treat or cure serious diseases and health conditions without competent and reliable scientific evidence to support such claims. As we have written about previously, FTC and the FDA issued similar joint warning letters to three other CBD sellers earlier this year.
According to the FTC’s press release, the companies claimed their products could cure serious diseases such as cancer, alzheimer’s, fibromyalgia, and multiple sclerosis. At least one company’s website, however, took it a step further by claiming “CBD ‘works like magic’ to relieve ‘even the most agonizing pain’ better than prescription opioid painkillers” and “the company . . . has participated in ‘thousands of hours of research’ with Harvard researchers.”
The letters directed the recipient companies to review all claims, including testimonials, to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. As readers of this blog likely know, advertisers are required to substantiate all objectively provable claims and cannot use testimonials as a means to make claims that they cannot otherwise substantiate. Given that cannabis, including hemp, was a controlled substance for decades, there has been limited research conducted to date. Put another way, although users may have experienced favorable results, this does not excuse the advertiser from properly substantiating their claims.