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Feds Crack Down On ‘Deceptively Marketed’ CBD Products

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced on Thursday that it launched the first law enforcement crackdown on “deceptive” claims being made about CBD products. The new action involves complaints against six companies.

As part of “Operation CBDeceit,” FTC is mandating that the firms and personnel associated with them stop making a “wide range of scientifically unsupported claims” about their products’ ability to treat medical conditions. Some of the companies will also have to pay monetary judgements.

“The six settlements announced today send a clear message to the burgeoning CBD industry: Don’t make spurious health claims that are unsupported by medical science,” Andrew Smith, Director of FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a press release. “Otherwise, don’t be surprised if you hear from the FTC.”

The companies targeted in the new action are Bionatrol Health, LLC; Epichouse LLC (First Class Herbalist CBD); CBD Meds, Inc.; HempmeCBD; Reef Industries, Inc. and Steves Distributing, LLC.

FTC, in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has previously warned or sued other companies about claims related to CBD products.

In April, the two agencies sent a letter to a company run by a former professional football player, warning the firm to stop claiming its cannabidiol products could prevent or cure coronavirus infections.

“The big news about Operation CBDeceit is that the sweep shouldn’t come as big news to members of the CBD industry,” the agency said in a blog post. “To date, the FTC has sent multiple letters to businesses warning them about making questionable disease-related representations for CBD products and has taken law enforcement action against others.”

“The message to marketers has been consistent: The same substantiation principles the FTC has applied to health claims for close to 50 years apply to similar claims for CBD products,” the post says. “Companies that represent expressly or by implication that what they sell can prevent, treat, or cure serious medical conditions will be held to the highest substantiation standards and marketers can expect careful scrutiny of those promises.”

FTC commissioners approved the new complaints and related consent orders against each company by unanimous votes of 5-0. The agency will publish descriptions of the consent agreements in the Federal Register, after which point public comments will be accepted for 30 days. FTC will then will decide whether to make the proposed consent order final.

The new FTC enforcement actions come as FDA is still formulating regulations for the legal marketing of CBD products, a process that began when Congress legalized hemp and its derivatives through the 2018 Farm Bill.

Photo by Kimzy Nanney.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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