FTC: Don't claim CBD health benefits without science to back it

What exactly does CBD oil do?
What exactly does CBD oil do?

Three companies were sent letters this week by the Federal Trade Commission, warning them not to promise health benefits from cannabidiol products with science to back them up.

The FTC did not publicly name the companies but said that they sell oils, tinctures, capsules, "gummies," and creams containing CBD, a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant.

The letters warned the companies 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.

Each company has advertised that its CBD products treat or cure serious diseases and health conditions, the FTC said.

One company's website claims CBD "works like magic" to relieve "even the most agonizing pain" better than prescription opioid painkillers. 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.

Another company's website claims that CBD 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 company also advertises CBD as a "miracle pain remedy" for both acute and chronic pain, including pain from cancer treatment and arthritis.

The third company's website promotes CBD gummies as 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." The company also claims its CBD cream relieves arthritis pain and that its CBD oil may effectively treat depression, PTSD, epilepsy, heart disease, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and asthma.

In the letters, the FTC urges the companies to review all claims made for their products, including consumer testimonials, to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence.

The letters also warn that selling CBD products without such substantiation could violate the FTC Act and may result in legal action that could result in an injunction and an order to return money to consumers.

The letters instruct the companies to notify the FTC within 15 days of the specific actions they have taken to address the agency's concerns.

In March 2019, the FTC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued similar joint warning letters to three CBD sellers.

To learn more about consumer topics or file a consumer complaint online, go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/ or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). 

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