CBD is booming. Many consider it ‘green gold’ because of the lucrative projections surrounding the hemp-derived substance. As it stands, projections have the CBD industry reaching $22 billion by 2026 in the United States. Without a doubt, there is a lot of money at stake which is why marketing claims are under intense scrutiny by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Unsubstantiated CBD Health Marketing Claims
With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FDA and FTC have started to implement even stricter enforcement actions against CBD brands and retailers who they feel are making deceptive or unfair medical claims during CBD marketing. On April 20, 2020, the FTC stated, “[a]t a time when Americans are looking for any hope and solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re increasingly concerned about the deceptive practices some marketers can, have, and will employ.” With so much scrutiny, it is imperative that CBD brands and retailers remain vigilant with their marketing claims and avoid making any unsubstantiated health-related statements.
Claiming CBD is ‘Legal’
The legality of CBD marketing claims is an interesting gray area. With the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp, and hemp-derived products that all contain less than 0.3% THC were removed from the federal list of controlled substances. However, the FDA has not yet ruled conclusively on CBD. This makes it illegal for a CBD brand to label or market their CBD items a ‘dietary supplement’ or ‘drug.’ The FDA does not hesitate to send warnings to brands and retailers who overstep this shady area in their marketing claims - in some cases the FDA has levied significant fines.
CBD Pet Products
Many CBD brands might think that pet product marketing claims are out of the realm of the FDA’s watchdog stance, but this is a misnomer. In 2019, Curaleaf CBD products faced FDA warnings when they started to promote their CBD products as a way to alleviate pet ailments. The FDA pointed out Curaleaf’s failure to gain FDA approval before marketing or labeling their pet products and declared them in violation of the FD&C Act. They were told to correct their actions or face legal action such as an injunction and seizure of their products.
Marketing CBD Products
The main factor to remember when marketing CBD products is never to claim they are for medical use or that they ‘cure’ anything. Basically, all advertising should be truthful, lawful, and ethical.
Avoid Medical Claims and Always Use Disclaimers
Ideally, all CBD brands and retailers should steer clear of making medical and health claims about their products. Also, disclaimers should be included that state clearly the products are not to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease.
Any marketing claim must be substantiated. If it is not, then the advertising can be labeled as unfair or deceptive by the FTC. Even a simple social media post on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram can get a CBD brand or retailer in trouble. The FTC monitors such areas and may immediately pick up on any claims that focus on a consumer’s health or safety. In addition, more regulatory enforcement activity is forecast in the future with the FTC, so it is imperative that all CBD brands and retailers take notice and try to not overstep the rules.
The FTC and FDA often work together to send out joint warning letters to CBD retailers/brands if they make any false or unsubstantiated marketing claims. To avoid receiving such letters, retailers and brands must avoid making false marketing claims that appear deceptive, misleading or are unsubstantiated.
Stay Up to Date on State and Local CBD Labeling Laws and Regulations
CBD is regulated on a state-by-state basis. The patchwork of local and state laws and regulations vary with their marketing, labeling, advertising, sale, and distribution requirements. Every CBD retailer and brand must stay current on local laws and adhere strictly to the required principles.
Be a Savvy Consumer
As a consumer, it’s important to be your own advocate when it comes to buying CBD products. Know what to look for when it comes to false marketing claims so you can be certain you’re buying from a brand you can trust. Look for brands that not only promote transparency in their marketing, but also in their product quality and sourcing methods.
If you have ever have any questions about our CBD products at Also Organics, we’d be happy to chat with you. Just reach out for more information.