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How to Avoid Giving Medical Advice on your Cannabis Website

CBD Medical Claims: Dos and Don’ts

Introduction

As the owner of a hemp, CBD, Delta 8, or other cannabis ecommerce website, you know one thing for sure: giving medical advice and making health or medical claims are a big no-no.  Providing medical advice and making medical claims can lead to your business being shut down, large fines, lawsuits, inability to get or loss of credit card processing and liability insurance, and a poor customer experience.  To help you navigate this tricky terrain, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide that covers key phrases and honest (but clever) ways of getting your message across without crossing any lines.

There’s nothing more frustrating than hearing customers tell you what your product did for them and not being able to share their story in fear of non-compliance.  However, there are many ways to have a compliant website and still get your message across to the customer with complete honesty, without being deceptive.   And in doing so, there are many benefits; most importantly is customer experience, which should always be at the forefront of any marketing efforts.  A good customer experience can affect everything from the lifetime value of a customer to your google rankings.  But you must take the time and do it right when creating content, both on and off, your company website. 

Using phrases like “may”, “potentially”, “might”, and “maybe” are a necessity in some contexts.  However, when overused, they can do more harm than good.  You may think it’s enough to get around the rules, but you might be wrong.  You can potentially lose brand reputation and maybe even customer trust.  Do you see what I mean?  So, how do you go about getting your message across without making or implying a medical claim?  Well, mama always said, “honesty is the best policy”.  So, let’s start there.  Read on to learn what you can, can’t, and shouldn’t say on your website or any other company marketing.  I’ll show you exactly what phrases are OK to use and how to use them.  More importantly, I’ll show you a list of Dirty Words to avoid at all costs, in any context.  For all the George Carlin fans out there I’ve called them the ”7 Words You Can’t Say on TV About CBD.”

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What are Medical Claims?

Medical claims are any statements that suggest or imply that a product can help treat or cure an illness or medical condition. More specifically, medical claims are statements or suggestions that a product can diagnose, treat, cure, prevent, heal, eliminate, alleviate, or remedy a disease or known medical condition.  In the United States, these claims must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before they can be legally used in marketing materials or on websites. 

This includes statements such as “this product cures cancer” or “this product reduces anxiety”. These types of claims are not allowed by law because they imply that the product has medicinal properties which have not been proven by scientific evidence for that specific product or active ingredient.  These types of claims have been regulated by the FDA since 1906 and are closely monitored by them today. This means that as a cannabis or hemp business, it is important to be mindful when making claims about your products because they could be seen as false advertising if they are not backed up with scientific evidence.

What are Medical Conditions?

A medical condition is an illness or injury that affects the body, mind, or emotions. It can range from mild to severe and can affect any part of the body. Some common medical conditions include asthma, diabetes, heart disease, depression, and cancer. Symptoms can also vary widely depending on the diagnosis.

Common Medical Conditions found in Medical Claims associated with CBD

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  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Chronic Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Seizures
  • Epilepsy
  • PTSD
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Why are medical claims an issue for CBD Companies?

Unfounded medical claims made by CBD Companies or ecommerce sites selling any hemp-derived products can cause huge operations issues and have detrimental consequences such as the inability to open new accounts, getting existing accounts shut down, compliance audits, problems getting credit card processing, and licensing issues.  

Legal Ramifications

The reason behind avoiding medical advice on a website selling CBD products is because of the FDA’s rulings in 2018 that made it illegal to market any product as a treatment or cure for any medical condition without first having received FDA approval. This means that if you make any claims about your product being able to do either of these things without the appropriate backing from the FDA, you could potentially be in violation of federal law.

Brand Reputation

In addition to potential legal issues, making such claims can also damage your business’s reputation and lead to financial losses due to dissatisfied customers who may have been expecting more from your product than it was able to deliver.  Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to online shopping, and they want to know exactly what they are buying before they make a purchase decision. If your website contains questionable claims or uses language that could be interpreted as false advertising, then customers may be deterred from engaging with your business altogether.  To ensure that your business remains compliant with all applicable laws and regulations while maintaining an honest relationship with your customers, it is essential that you avoid making any claim regarding the efficacy of your product as a treatment or cure for any medical condition, even if there are studies out there suggesting otherwise.

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Operation Issues

Using Medical Claims on your CBD website can cause huge issues with your day-to-day operations. What most people don’t know is that most companies, either through manual audits or by way of bots that crawl your website regularly, search for keywords associated with medical claims then do a manual review.  This includes every search engine, domain registrars, hosting companies, social media, merchant processors, Visa, Mastercard, and any other company integrated in any way with your domain or ecommerce site.  There are serious ramifications when they find any sort of medical claim or medical advice on your cannabis website.  These include the inability to open a new account, immediate account termination, audits, domain suspension, lowered Google rankings, post no longer showing up on social media, and state licensing issues.

Inability to Create New Accounts

When you apply for a new account in some industries, especially when it has to do with money and your CBD company, that vendor will almost always audit the content on your website.  And if they find medical claims that against all FDA CBD Guidelines or break any other state, federal, or that company’s policies, you will not be able to open an account with them.  Some companies may allow you to fix the issue, others may not give you a second chance.  This is especially true with credit card processing for CBD companies, State Hemp Licensing, and Product Liability Insurance policies.

Account Terminations

If you passed your initial website content inspection with your merchant processor or other company that initially inspected your website content for Medical Claims and compliance, that doesn’t mean you can now say whatever you want on your website, especially when it comes to making medical claims about your CBD or other Hemp-derived products.  Here’s two scenarios to consider that happen very frequently in the cannabis industry. 

  1. Let’s say you sign up for a Square Up CBD Credit Card Processing Account, not the normal account but the one specifically for CBD products. You passed the initial website compliance as part of your application, and you’ve been processing credit cards with them for a few months.  Business is going well.  You posted a new blog article about “Treating Fibromyalgia with CBD”.  The next day your credit card processing is shut down and you can no longer take credit cards (and if it’s Square, they’ll send you to voicemail indefinitely btw).    

 

Why did they cancel my account?  Was it the article I just wrote?  How did Square know?  Do they have people just sitting there reading everything I post all day and night? 

Here’s what happened.  You posted a blog article about “Treating Fibromyalgia with CBD” The company sends bots to your website several times a day.  What are bots?  Think of them as a pair of eyes that can read millions of pages a minute and read everything on your website daily. They follow every link and read every word on your website.  They’re programmed to red flag any word associated with Medical Claims and Medical Conditions and report immediately to a person that will manually review what you wrote.  If they find you’ve made or even implied a medical claim, your account is shut down immediately.  Now you have no way of collecting customer payments.  Huge issue.  With credit card processing specifically, you have another issue.  Let’s say you’ve gotten a merchant (credit card) processing account opened with a company that’s not as tech savvy as Square.  Guess what.  It doesn’t matter.  Because every few months, Both Visa and Mastercard scan the entire internet separately looking for anyone that’s accepting their payment method.  They then send that flag to your merchant processor and then you get your account shut down that way.

  1. Let’s say you are a licensed hemp-derived gummy manufacturer, and you got your cannabis-infused food manufacturing license a year ago. Most states will only look at content in the beginning during the application process.  Now, we’ll use the example above with your new blog article “Treating Fibromyalgia with CBD”.  Recently a customer read the forementioned article, ordered your CBD Gummies, and it did not help her fibromyalgia.  Upset, she files a complaint with the state you hold your gummy manufacturing license in.  At which point, the state reviews your website, finds your medical claims which clearly violate their policy, and revoke your license immediately.

 

These things happen all the time and can lead to a huge loss of revenue and in some cases, your entire business goes under.  Staying compliant is additional work, but the pros far outweigh the cons.

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Audits

Some accounts you may have, especially product liability insurance policies, have yearly audits.  Some of these audits check your website content. 

Merchant Processing Companies

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Every company needs credit card processing to operate business.  For those in the cannabis space, you know it’s much more complicated than just running to get a Square account (which we DO NOT RECOMMEND).  Merchant processing companies do an initial web content audit during the initial application process to ensure there are no medical claims.  Then, along with Visa and Mastercard, will use bots to scan your website content for keywords associated with Medical Claims.   If their bots find any of these words as you’re adding new content to the site, such as a new blog post, a manual review of their newfound red flagged content will occur.  And if found to contain a medical claim, you will be shut down immediately.

Property Liability Insurance

Property liability insurance is imperative if you’re selling any cannabis product.  As part of both your initial application and your yearly audit, your insurance company will perform an audit on both your website content and your labels.  If they find any medical claims, you will either not be able to get property liability insurance, or your existing policy will immediately be dropped. 

I know what you are thinking.  “I’ll just go get a policy from someone else”.  Well, that is possible.  But it still may hurt financially.  Hemp Lively’s insurance agent sent over this year’s insurance quotes with these amounts respectively for the 3 different insurance companies.  $5,000, $6,600, and $7,800.  So, yes, you may be able to get another product liability insurance policy, but it will cost you thousands of dollars more per year.  Plus, you’ll still have to remove the medical claims from your site.

Domain Registrar Suspension

Did you know that marking drug-like products can get your domain suspended?  That’s correct.  You can have a totally legal product and if you market it incorrectly, domain registrars like GoDaddy can, and will, suspend your domain for a minimum of 6 months.  Can you imagine running a CBD ecommerce business and in a split second, having your business taken from you for half a year.  It would be detrimental.

Google Rankings

Google has become extremely savvy in recent years.  Search engines like Google may penalize your website if you use language seen as inappropriate regarding medical claims for CBD companies.

State Licensing

Depending on the state and license, your website content may be audited for medical claims.  It will also be looked at if you receive any customer complaints or public outcry.  In these cases, serious consequences occur including fines, loss of license, future ban, and even criminal charges.

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State and Federal Compliance

Not only are there medical claims you need to avoid using, but there are also disclosures you must include on your products regarding medical and health claims, warnings, and regulations.  Federal Disclosures mandated by the FDA must be placed on all product labels and your website.  It’s recommended to put these disclosures in all marketing material and correspondence with customers as well.  There are also some state specific disclosures and verbiage that you can get by visiting your state’s website or looking at their USDA Hemp Program.  In addition to state and federal disclosure requirements, there are also some product specific and recommended warnings which should also be placed on the labels and/or product pages of your website.  For state specific requirements, please contact your state.  Here are some of the required and recommended disclosures we use at Hemp Lively.

Required Federal Disclosures

  • THIS PRODUCT HAS NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FDA AND IS NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, OR CURE ANY DISEASE.
  • Product Contains A Total Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol Concentration That Does Not Exceed 0.3% On A Dry-Weight Basis.

 

State Compliance

 

All Hemp-Derived Products

  • Must be 21 years old to purchase.
  • Keep out of the reach of children.

 

All Psychoactive Products – Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, and HHC

  • WARNING: THIS PRODUCT IS PSYCHOACTIVE AND CAUSES DROWSINESS.  DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY WHILE TAKING OR EXPERIENCING THE EFFECTS OF THIS PRODUCT. 
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Customer Warnings and Disclosures (recommended)

All Hemp-Derived Products

  • Do not use this product if you are pregnant, nursing, have or suspect a medical condition, are taking medications or undergoing any medical treatments.
  • Consult your physician before use if you are pregnant, nursing, have or suspect a medical condition, are taking medications or undergoing any medical treatments.
  • TAKING THIS, OR ANY CANNABIS OR HEMP PRODUCTS MAY CAUSE YOU TO FAIL A DRUG TEST. IF YOU ARE CURRENTLY, OR HAVE ANY CHANCE OF, GETTING DRUG TESTED WITHIN THE NEXT 30-45 DAYS, DO NOT TAKE THIS OR ANY CANNABIS, HEMP, CBD, THC, DELTA 8, OR HHC PRODUCT.

 

All Psychoactive Products – Delta 8, Delta 9 THC, and HHC

  • WARNING: THIS PRODUCT IS PSYCHOACTIVE AND CAUSES DROWSINESS.  DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY WHILE TAKING OR EXPERIENCING THE EFFECTS OF THIS PRODUCT. 
  • ONSET (THE TIME TAKES TO FEEL THE EFFECTS) CAN TAKE UP TO 1 HOUR. IF YOU DO NOT FEEL ANYTHING, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TAKE MORE AS YOU WILL FEEL THE EFFECTS SHORTLY.
  • DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, DRIVE A CAR, TRUCK, MOTORCYCLE, OR ANY OTHER MOTORIZED VEHICLE OR OPERATE ANY OTHER HEAVY MACHINERY WHILE TAKING THIS PRODUCT, FEELING THE EFFECTS FROM TAKING THIS PRODUCT, OR WITHIN ABOUT 4 HOURS AFTER THE EFFECTS DISSAPATE.

 

Vapes – Delta 8 THC or HHC

  • YOUR LUNGS WERE MADE TO PROCESS OXYGEN. INHALING ANYTHING OTHER THAN CLEAN OXYGEN-RICH AIR MAY BE DANGEROUS TO YOUR HEALTH.  VAPING CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR LUNGS.  VAPING CAN ALSO BE ADDICTIVE.  VAPING IS NOT SAFE.  USE AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

Legal Advice Disclosure

The disclosures and warnings within this article are examples of what we use at Hemp Lively, which is in Florida.  Regardless of what state you are in, it is your responsibility to verify the necessary labelling guidelines and disclosure requirements.  It is recommended to always consult an attorney in your state as well as the state department overseeing hemp-derived products prior to finalizing any disclosure.  Information within this article shall not be deemed legal advice.

Where should I put these warnings and disclosures

All federal and state required disclosures such as “This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease…” should go everywhere.  Check with your state for required disclosure verbiage.  Product specific warnings such as “Delta 8 is Psychoactive and causes drowsiness.  Do not operate Heavy Machinery.” Need to be placed on order notification emails, product labels, and on the website’s product page.  Here’s a Checklist of Places to place the appropriate disclosures and warnings.

Disclosure Checklist

Below is a checklist of places you’ll need to update disclosures:

  • Website
    • Product pages
    • Footer
    • Terms and Conditions Page
    • Terms of Use Page
    • Affiliate Terms and Conditions
    • Affiliate Program Main Page
  • Product Labels
  • Email Footer
  • Order Notification Emails
  • Printed Marketing Materials
  • Employee Training Manuals & Materials
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  • New Employee Packet
  • Employee and Company Signed Agreement disclosing, notifying, and agreeing to never give medical advice or communicate in any way, either directly, indirectly, or implied, any medical claim.
  • Company Manuals
  • All Training Materials
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The Benefits of Compliance

By avoiding making any medical claims on your website related to CBD products, you are protecting both yourself and your customers from potential legal trouble while also helping maintain trust in your brand by keeping expectations realistic and honest. Furthermore, by avoiding giving out medical advice on your website related to CBD products, you are helping create an atmosphere where consumers feel safe purchasing such products knowing that they are not being misled into thinking that their purchase will provide them with something it may not actually deliver.  Here are several benefits to a compliant content strategy.

Customers Appreciate Honesty

“Honest is the best policy”, as my mother always said.  It’s true.  Since 2016, I’ve spoken to thousands of potential customers and have always gotten great feedback by being honest about their expectations.  It builds trust between company and customer.  If you word it correctly and take the time to inform the customer with realistic expectations and informative instructions on use, time, and the science behind how cannabinoids work, you won’t lose a sale just because you didn’t promise something.  I mean how could you.  The human body is so complex and there are millions of variables to figure out.  There’s no possible way you can be 100% sure that your product will help them.  The only way is to try.  At the bottom of this article, I’ve written out, word for word, what I say to customers when they ask things like “Does you whole plant hemp oil work for Arthritis?  Keep reading and there’s a print button at the top if you’d like a copy of these answers to use for your customer support team or use on your website, you may copy and paste the Q & A Compliant Answers Section (no the whole article) to your website.

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When people are suffering from something, whether it be aging, an injury, and ailment, or a family member watching their loved one suffer, it’s disgusting to think that companies would take advantage of their pain, just to sell a product.  It’s predatory and immoral. 

Overselling sounds gimmicky

If it’s too good to be true, it usually is.  Instead of gimmicky slogans and false promises, spend a moment and educate your customers on how cannabinoids work.  Give them the knowledge to make an informed decision.  You will differentiate your company from the competition and they’ll thank you for it.

Builds Moral – Employees feel secure and a sense of worth

A “Company Culture” is, in my opinion, the most important part of a company.  And being a part of a compliant Cannabis Company builds moral and a sense of self-worth.  It will reduce employee turnover, save money in training, and make for a happier work environment with a loyal work staff.

Saves Time and Money

Non-compliance can cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours responding to state requests, paying fines, reapplying for accounts, and undergoing in-depth audits.  Spend the time up-front to make sure your website and marking content concerning hemp-derived and any other products you sell are compliant and do not make medical claims or give medical advice. Proper initial employee training will help achieve this.

The Dos and Don'ts of Medical Claims

When it comes to making medical claims about your hemp-derived products, there are certain words that should not be used at all costs. There are seven words (or variations of them) are big no-no’s and could result in legal action against your company if used in an inappropriate manner.  They should be avoided at all costs except for being included in an FDA Disclosure.  Synonyms and words with similar meanings as well as variations of tense should also be excluded from any content you put on your website to ensure you do not make a medical claim. 

There are also words that can be used, but only in the correct context, which means not when describing a medical condition.  As a good rule of thumb, it’s best to stay away from any medical condition with a formal name such as “Cancer”, “Arthritis”, “PTSD”, “Parkinson’s”, “Alzheimer’s”, and “Fibromyalgia”. 

While some of the words listed in this section, when used in an appropriate context, might sound like reasonable descriptors for what your product does, they imply a level of efficacy that has yet to be proven scientifically or clinically.  Furthermore, including these words within your web and marketing content can “red flag” regulatory agencies and other company’s compliance department to dive deep into thorough audits which cost time, money, and may uncover further violations.

Limit using May, Might, Possibly, Potentially, and Maybe.

Using phrases like “may”, “potentially”, “might”, and “maybe” actually does more harm than good.  You may think it’s enough to get around the rules, but you might be wrong.  You can potentially lose brand reputation and maybe even customer trust.  Do you see what I mean?  Words like “may” and “might” are often seen as weak language by consumers looking for clarity and assurance about their purchase decisions.  However, at some point in your content, you will most likely use some of these indecisive words.  Just be careful and proceed with caution when you do.  If you can find alternative verbiage, use it instead. Continue reading to see some much better examples.

What does the FDA think of the word “May”?

They could care less if it was there or not if the intent was to insinuate that a products will cure, treat, alleviate, a medical condition.  Here’s a prime example from an FDA Warning Letter to M Six Labs, Inc. on May 4, 2022.

 

Based on a review of your website, your CBD and Delta-8 THC products for humans are drugs under section 201(g)(1) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1), because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease, and/or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body. 

 

Examples of claims from your website https://m6labs.com that provide evidence of the intended use of these products as drugs include, but may not be limited to, the following:

On your blog post titled, “How Does CBD Make You Feel?”

 

  • “People who undergo chemotherapy for cancer often suffer from terrible nausea. In some cases, CBD products may help suppress such nausea.”

 

Using indecisive words like may and potentially are fine to use with general terms, but not with formal Medical Conditions like Cancer, Arthritis, BiPolar Disorder, Anxiety, etc.

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BAD WORDS, DON’TS, & NO-NO’s: What you can't say.

When it comes to medical claims on CBD products, there are some dos and don’ts. What would George Carlin say about this? The legendary comedian made his mark by reminding us of the seven words you can never say on television. But what about the seven words you can never say about CBD?  Are there certain words they should avoid in their claims and descriptions? It turns out that there are many “dirty words” that can get a company into trouble when making medical claims about their hemp-derived products, but there are 7 words you should never use.  Here’s the list and what each of these words mean in a medical context.

  • Heal – the process of making or becoming sound or healthy again after an injury or illness.
  • Treat – to provide medical care for an illness or injury.
  • Cure – to restore health after an illness or injury.
  • Prevent – to stop something from happening.
  • Alleviate – to reduce the severity of a symptom.
  • Eliminate – getting rid of something completely.
  • Remedy – to correct or counteract.

 

What would George Carlin say about this? 

Well, I’m sure he’d say a quick standup like this:

george carlin The seven words you cant say about CBD

7 Dirty Words you can’t say on TV about CBD?

(by George Carlin, with a few modifications)

“I love words. I thank you for hearing my words.”

“I want to tell you something about words that I think is important.”

“They’re my work, they’re my play, they’re my passion.”

“Words are all we have, really. We have thoughts but thoughts are fluid, y’know like, woo-woo-woo-woo, “POP! Then we assign a word to a thought, and we’re stuck with that word for that thought, so be careful with words.”

“I like to think that yeah, the same words that hurt can heal, it’s a matter of how you pick them.”

“There are some people that aren’t into all the words.”

“There are some that would have you not use certain words.”

“Yeah, there are 400,000 words in the English language and there are 7 of them that you can’t say on television. What a ratio that is!”

“399,993 to 7. They must really be bad. They’d have to be outrageous to be separated from a group that large.”

“All of you over here, you 7, baaad words!”

“That’s what they told us they were, remember? “That’s a bad word!” No bad words, bad thoughts, bad intentions, and words!”

“You know the 7, don’t you, that you can’t say on TV about CBD?”

“Heal, Treat, Cure, Prevent, Alleviate, Eliminate, and Remedy”

Here’s the original George Carlin: 7 Dirty Words Standup for all the George Carlin fans out there.

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Medical Conditions to NEVER MENTION.

There are some Medical Conditions to never mention, under any circumstances.  Using these in any context on a CBD or other hemp-derived product ecommerce website, blog, or marketing piece will bring unnecessary negative attention.  Here are some medical Conditions to avoid:

 

  • PTSD
  • Cancer
  • Parkinson’s
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Epilepsy or Seizures (unless its only referring to EPIDIOLEX® (cannabidiol)
  • Insomnia
  • Arthritis
  • Mental Disorders (Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, ADHD, Anxiety)

 

There are many more.  As a good rule of thumb.  If it has a proper name such as any disorder where the first letter is capitalized, a mental disorder name of any kind, an acronym of any medical disorder, or a diagnosed broad category such as “Arthritis”, don’t use it.

Here’s a prime example from a recent FDA Warning Letter to Naturally Infused LLC on  November 16, 2022.

 

“Based on our review of your website and social media websites listed above, your CBD-containing products for humans are drugs under section 201(g)(1) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1), because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.

Examples of claims observed on your website and social media websites that establish the intended use of your CBD-containing products for humans as drugs include, but may not be limited to, the following:

“From your website webpage titled, “Articles,” that lists links to pages with articles and blog posts, including:

    • A link to an article entitled, “A Primer About Cannabidiol and the Benefits of CBD,” which contains claims such as, “CBD is a powerful anti-epileptic, anti-depressant . . . muscle relaxant, sedative . . .”
    • A link to an article entitled, “CBD and Bipolar Disorder,” which contains claims such as, “research suggests that certain cannabinoids found in marijuana, i.e. THC and CBD, may have significant mood-stabilizing properties that could be beneficial for patients with bipolar disorder. . . CBD seems to counter the psychoactive effects produced by high doses of THC and may also possess anti-anxiety, hypnotic and anticonvulsant properties of its own.”

 

 

Remember, to get in trouble with the state, FDA, your merchant processor, insurance company, or even customer complaints, you don’t need to be technically in the wrong.  Someone reading your content just needs to perceive it.  It’s been proven that when people read, about half of them skip over words and process the important ones.  This means using “potentially” in the same sentence as “Cancer” will never cut it.  Just don’t use the word, Cancer.

What if a customer posts a review with a medical claim on your website?

If content ends up on your website, whether you wrote it or not which includes customer reviews, it is considered your content.  Therefore, if a customer fills out a review form after their purchase and you have your website set to automatically post the review upon completion, anything the customer writes in that review including a medical claim is your responsibility.  You might as well have written it yourself because the liability falls 100% on you. 

Here’s a prime example in the FDA Warning Letter to Newhere Inc dba CBDFX on November 16, 2022.

On the “What is CBD” webpage:

  • “There’s so much more we’d love to say about the soothing, calming effects of CBD, but we can’t make any “claims” about the actual benefits of CBD (as instructed by the FDA). Fortunately, anecdotal evidence of its effectiveness is everywhere. Take a look at our customer reviews to see what other folks have experienced” with the words “customer reviews” hyperlinked to a page titled “CBDFX VERIFIED PRODUCT REVIEWS.” The CBDFX VERIFIED PRODUCT REVIEWS webpage includes testimonials, but not limited to, the following:

 

    • “Awesome pain relief!”
    • “Eases my back pain.”

 

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As a best practice, set all your reviews to be manually approved and change the settings to editable.  Therefore, if a customer leaves you a great review but includes something that could be perceived as a medical claim, you can remove that part and still post the remaining review.

Am I responsible for off-site content?

As a company, you cannot control everything that’s posted by other people all over the internet.  It would be impossible.  However, there are some situations where off-site content would be your responsibility to monitor and ensure no medical claims were made. 

  • Your company, or a member, employee, or associate, owns that website.
  • There are links from your website or your social media page to an article on another website giving medical advice or health claims.
  • Your Social Media accounts and any pages they link to
  • Affiliate marking content from a paid affiliate
  • The off-site blog post promotes your product. 

Can I get in trouble if an Image has a medical claim?

Yes, you can.  The FDA sends out Warning Letters all the time to CBD and Cannabis companies for Website Images and Social Media Posts that contain either an image or a text-image combo that makes or insinuates a Health Claim.

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Here’s a prime example from a recent FDA Warning Letter to Naturally Infused LLC on  November 16, 2022.

“Based on our review of your website and social media websites listed above, your CBD-containing products for humans are drugs under section 201(g)(1) of the FD&C Act, 21 U.S.C. 321(g)(1), because they are intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease and/or intended to affect the structure or any function of the body.

Examples of claims observed on your website and social media websites that establish the intended use of your CBD-containing products for humans as drugs include, but may not be limited to, the following:’

IMAGES THAT GIVE HEALTH CLAIMS

From your social media website https://www.facebook.com/Naturally-Infused-CBD-CBG-335285106887519/:

    • August 20, 2021 post: “Recommended by primary care physicians, cardiologist [sic], chiropractors, pain management doctors and more! If you want help to stop taking opioids, stop on by! 6813 State Road 54 New Port Richey [the street address for your firm’s retail store]” followed by an image of a store window displaying the text, “CBD.”
    • September 27, 2017 post: An image of a banner displaying the text, “Alzheimers [sic] – Anxiety . . . Autism – Auto Immune Disorder – Cancer – Depression – Diabetes – Epilepsy . . . NATURALLY INFUSED CBD . . . Spray & Rub . . . Roll & Rub . . . Tinctures . . . NATURALLYINFUSED.COM[,] Fibromyalgia – Glaucoma . . . M.S. . . . Psoriasis – Seizures”
    • June 2, 2017 posts: Images of a T-shirt with the text “Got CBD?” on the front of the shirt and the following text on what appears to be the back of the shirt: “HAVE THESE? . . . Auto Immune Disorder . . . M.S. . . . Cancer . . . Depression . . . Psoriasis . . . Epilepsy . . . Seizures . . . Fibromyalgia . . . Go To: NaturallyInfused.com”3

Can I get in trouble for an Affiliate’s off-site content containing Medical Claims?

Yes. You sure can, especially if your website, company blog, or social media account links to that page or that page links back to you.  Also, Affiliates, although technically independent contractors, are essentially marketers your company has hired and thus, you may be held responsible for their marketing content.  It’s best to create proper training for affiliates on your content policies and monitor their content.  A good way of doing this is to put in your terms and conditions that any affiliate links coming from content that violates your Affiliate Terms and Conditions will not be paid.  Also, reading the first 20 or so pages of content they post once they first start marketing for you to ensure they understand and abide by the terms.

Examples of "What Not to Say"

Here’s a list of what not to do.  Most of these examples were taken directly from one of the 2022 FDA Warning Letters sent to other CBD companies for Medical Claim Violations. 

You’ll notice that most of these examples either refer to a known medical condition, use one of the 7 Dirty words, are a customer testimonial making a medical claim, use an image to make a medical health claim, or make promises of a medical benefit that has not been FDA approved for your product.  

For a recent list and more examples of “what not to do”, download all Medical Claims referenced in all 2022 FDA Warning Letters sent to CBD Companies (20 pages with links to the actual FDA Warning Letters).

  • “CBD is a powerful anti-epileptic, anti-depressant . . . muscle relaxant, sedative . . .”
  • “CBD is an anti-inflammatory agent”
  • If you want help to stop taking opioids + any reference of CBD (including an image in the background)
  • An image of displaying the text of a Medical Condition, (e.g. Alzheimer’s, Anxiety, Cancer, Depression) in an article about CBD or a CBD Product
  • An Image saying, “Got PTSD? Visit our website”
  • A testimonial that says, “CBD for sleep apnea (product). . . helped both my husband and me get better sleep at night.”
  • A testimonial that says, “Awesome pain relief!”
  • Anything about COVID, ever.
  • Anything about CANCER, ever.
  • “Nature supplies plenty of natural remedies, such as . . . CBD, to beat depression.”
  • this 2015 report, which found evidence that ‘established CBD as an effective treatment for numerous types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – the report may very well have said that, but until its approved by the FDA for that purpose you cannot make these statements.
  • CBD . . . Proven natural pain reliever
  • “Our CBD cream is formulated to soothe muscle and joint pain.
  • “CBD has been shown to help with a lot of different things like anxiety, stress, pain, and inflammation, and even help with seizures.”
  • “Anti-inflammation: Relieving joint pain for active and older dogs”
  • “Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, many find that CBD can help with inflammation
  • “We have all likely heard stories of CBD potentially helping with seizure disorders, pain control, anxiety, metabolic disorders, cancer, inflammation and nausea, just to name a few.”
  • “CBD Oil Benefits . . . Pain Relief and Inflammation . . . Helps Fight Cancer . . . Relieves Nausea . . . Treats Seizures . . . Lowers Risk of Diabetes . . . Anxiety . . . Depression . . . panic disorders  . . . OCD . . . PTSD . . . Neurological Disorders . . ..”
  • “Introducing our line of extra strength CBD oil that is great for insomnia, epilepsy, MS, schizophrenia, and chronic pain.”
  • “If you suffer from one of these ailments, we encourage you to enhance your life by choosing a natural alternative such as CBD . . . pain . . . Inflammation . . . Anxiety . . . Movement Disorders . . . Memory . . . Seizure . . . ADHD . . . PTSD”
  • “CBD ‘resets’ endocannabinoid activity, which reduces sensitivity to pain and therefore, the symptoms of fibromyalgia.”
  • “Is Delta 8 THC Medicinal? . . . Yes! Delta 8 THC is used for a variety of symptoms including: . . . Pain Relief . . . Anxiety . . .Nausea . . . Brain Cell Protection . . . & Appetite Stimulation . . .”
  • The treatment of insomnia is another reason that many individuals enjoy taking Delta 8 THC gummies.
  • “As an antiemetic Delta 8 THC gummies can work wonders. Many cancer patients have trouble leaving their homes because of treatment, such as chemotherapy; shop for delta 8 gummies online to treat nausea and vomiting.
  • Delta-8-THC has also been shown to be effective at killing cancer cells, making it doubly effective for cancer patients.
  • The treatment of chronic pain is one of the uses of Delta-8-THC
  • “Many are turning to consume CBD oil for anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.”
  • “People are now taking CBD for anxiety, stress relief, proper pain medication, and to help fight addiction.”
  • “CBD could help remove dementia from brain cells.”
  • “[D]elta-8-THC has also been used to relieve pain, ease anxiety”
  • “CBD oil is an effective natural treatment for OCD.”
  • “The study suggests that CBD oil or a derivative of it could be a useful treatment for Crohn’s.”
  • “The benefits of Delta 8 are the following . . . Reduce depression . . . Reduce anxiety and panic attacks . . .”
  • “62% of CBD users used it to treat health conditions. The most common uses were for pain, anxiety, and depression.”
  • Responding to a customer question – “Yes, Delta-8 THC does help to reduce anxiety.”
  • “CBD Reduces Need for Opioid Use in Pain Treatment”
  • “Whole-Spectrum Hemp Extract & CBD & The Fight Against COVID-19.”
  • “CBD has been shown to have positive effects on adults and children who experience PTSD.”
  • “Fighting Cancer . . . Δ8 may also have cancer-fighting properties . . . [t]he researchers treated mice with cancer for 20 consecutive days with a combination of the isomer and cannabinol. The result? Tumors reduced in size.”
  • “CBD helps relieve pain, inflammation, nausea, and seizures in many cases.”
  • “Cannabidiol is of some use in the treatment of some cancers.”
  • Cancer-Fighting Capabilities . . . recent studies have shown that CBD can act as a direct antitumor agent for a variety of aggressive cancers
  • After announcing his new findings, van Breemen also said that cannabinoids ‘have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2.’” 
  • “Instead of synthetic chemical[s] that can have safety concerns, this blend uses the best of nature to help calm the inflammation and pain of teething, while also promoting sleepiness for your little one.”
  • “No matter what age, earaches are terrible, no good way to live each day! Our main priority was safety, effectiveness . . . as we formulated this for the entire family including our precious little ones. When the pain is bad, this roller goes to work for soothing pain, inflammation, and to battle against the bacterial/viral critters to blame.”
  • “Increasing evidence suggests that CBD oil is a powerful option for pain . . . anxiety . . . and autism . . . It seems like an attractive and safe option for children.”
  • “CBD oil may have neuroprotective properties and may protect against neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.”
  • “Possible uses for CBD include helping with skin problems such as acne, autism, ADHD, and even cancer. It’s often used in conjunction with traditional treatments to provide extra help. Children can use high amounts of CBD safely and without any risk.”
  • “CBD successfully stopped cancer cells in multiple different cervical cancer varieties.”
  • “CBD also decreased human glioma cell growth and invasion, thus suggesting a possible role of CBD as an antitumor agent.”
  • “For Alzheimer’s patients, CBD is one treatment option that is slowing the progression of that disease.”
  • “Fibromyalgia is conceived as a central sensitization state with secondary hyperalgesia. CBD has demonstrated the ability to block spinal, peripheral and gastrointestinal mechanisms responsible for the pain associated with migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and other related disorders.”
  • “Cannabidiol May be Effective for Treating Substance Use Disorders.”
  • “CBD reduced the rewarding effects of morphine and reduced drug seeking of heroin.”
  • “CBD may be used to avoid or reduce withdrawal symptoms.”

 

Let me point out one very important thing which I’ver mentioned but it’s worth saying again.  To reiterate, do not use words like may, might, and potentially in combination with any of the 7 Dirty Words or any formal Medical Condition that we’ve listed above. For example, you can’t say, “May cure Cancer”. But you should be able to get away with “May help with Stress”.

How to avoid using Definitive Words?

Definitive words mean there is only one possible outcome, and these words should be avoided as they would constitute a medical claim if in combination or referencing any medical condition.  Very few things in life are definitive.  Death and taxes are the two that come to mind.   And when it comes to marketing a product, the only companies allowed to use definitive words are those that have FDA approved products that have proven clinical data to back it up. 

 

So, when you want to say things like “CBD reduces inflammation”, you can’t.  Because somewhere out there, there is someone that it won’t have that effect on.  Even doctors still call it “practicing medicine” because how could they know exactly how the body will react to anything.  Especially since we are all made different and there are literally millions of variables to consider in the human body.

 

Therefore, you need to focus on words that are not definitive while maintaining honesty and integrity to market your product and get your message across.

Definitive Words Alternatives
Helps
Helps Support, Helps adjust, Works with, Helps Target, Helps Modify
Reduces
Targets, May Reduce, Combats, Alters, Changes, Fights
Heals
Helps support your body’s natural recovery, works with your body’s endocannabinoid system to bring your body back to homeostasis
Treats
Targets, Masks, Changes, Fights, Works with your body’s natural recovery system
Definitive Phrases Alternatives
Cures Insomnia
Combats Restlessness
Eliminates Wrinkles
Supports skin health
Relieves Pain
Targets the most common cause of Pain, Targets the root of your pain, may help mask the pain
Treats Anxiety
Helps maintain a normal emotional balance and sense of relaxation, builds a barrier to fight stress
Reduces Stress
Promotes emotional balance, Promotes your body’s natural mental balance

The above examples will get you started.  If you haven’t already done so, please download the statements from the FDA Medical Claims Warning Letters send to CBD Companies in 2022.  It will give you a clear idea of what statements and verbaige companies are getting in trouble for. 

 

Other Phrases Use Instead
Pain Relief
Relief
Joint Pain
Joint Aches
Chronic Pain
Constant Discomfort

 

DISCLOSURE: It’s always recommended to seek the advice of an attorney before making a final decision on the legality of your marketing content.  These phrases are not the opinion of the FDA and have been gathered from guides given to us over the years by various cannabis venders such as ACS Labs and several Cannabis Merchant Processing companies.  Furthermore, compliance of these phrases depends on the context in which it was used.  Factors they may affect these include other content on the page, images on the page, content on other content that the page links to, and the intent of the page itself.

What you can say about CBD

When discussing hemp-derived products like those offered by CBD companies, it’s important for marketers to focus on potential benefits rather than making actual health claims.  Stay clear of all definitive claims and regardless of whether they use potential benefits, formal medical conditions should never be used as they may be misconstrued as medical advice.  For example, if a company offers CBD oils for pain relief, they might advertise that taking this product may help relieve mild discomfort rather than claiming it will cure chronic pain outright.

Furthermore, marketers should always back up any potential benefits with sources such as clinical studies and peer reviews whenever possible. Doing so will make the company appear more credible and reliable in the eyes of consumers who may be skeptical of such health claims.

How to close a sale without making Health Claim?

When a potential customer calls in asking questions you can’t legally answer YES to.  For example, “Will this help my Osteo-arthritis pain?  There are ways to give the right expectations to a customer without making a health 

 

Compliant Q&A with Customer

Here are some common questions I get quite often from customers regarding different aspects of Hemp Lively’s Products.  Word for word, this is how I answer every time; with the truth.  And if said correctly, you will never need to make false promises just to sell a CBD Product every again. 

REDHEAD GIRL BREAKING THROUGH A PINK PAPER BACKGROUND IN THANKS WEARING GLASSES AND A BLUE BEANIE CAP

(Pretend you are listening to a phone conversion of a customer calling in to Hemp Lively)

Ring, Ring.  Ring, Ring. 

DAVID: “Thank you for calling Hemp Lively.  This is David.  How may I help you?”

CUSTOMER: Yes. Hi David.  My name is Gladys.  I’m calling because a friend recommended your Whole Plant Hemp Gummies to me.  I’m getting older and am in serious pain.  Will your gummies help with arthritis?

DAVID: Nice to meet you Gladys.  Is this your first time taking a hemp or CBD product?

CUSTOMER: Yes.  It is. 

DAVIDHas anyone ever taken the time to explain to you how Cannabinoids like CBD work?

CUSTOMER: Well no, they haven’t.

DAVID:  Okay great.  CBD is a phytocannabinoid, or “plant cannabinoid”, found in hemp plants.  Hemp has around 100 different cannabinoids in the plant.  CBD is the most prevalent but there is also CBG, CBN, CBC, and a slight trace of THC, but not enough where you’ll feel anything from it.  Have you ever tried any other cannabinoids?

CUSTOMER:  Well, no.  

DAVID:  Actually Gladys, you have.  You’re body is producing them right now.  They’re called endocannabiods.  They work with a system of body called the Endocanabinoid system.  It has a serious of receptors throughout your body.  When endocannabinoids attach to these receptor, they’re activated and send signals to various organs and other systems that participate in regulating things like mood, sleep, pain, and overall wellbeing.  It’s thought that the endocannabinoid systems main function is to help the body maintain homeostasis.   

The interesting thing I find from talking to customers after they’ve tried the product is most of them notice several changes after taking the product for a few weeks.  That’s usually when I hear from the friends they’ve referred.  

There’s two things you need to know about this product before taking it. 

First, some of the cannabinoids take several weeks to build up in your system, others a few days.  So, you’ll want to take 1 gummy every day for a least two weeks to allow CBD and the other cannabinoids time to build up in your system.  

Make sense?

CUSTOMER: Yes. 

Secondly, everyone is different.  And the human body is complex.  So, I can’t tell you exactly what you’ll experience and whether you’ll get relief for your arthritis.  But I can tell you this.  There’s very few people that try our products at the right dose daily for a full month and don’t find some benefit from them.  Millions of people use CBD products every day.  And whether it’s the CBD or some of the other cannabinoids that your body may need right now.  They’re all in there.  

Here’s what to look for during the first few weeks.  Take one gummy daily and monitor things like sleep, mobility, pain, mood, and stress levels.  Keep a daily log of how you feel so at the end of your first 2-3 weeks you can decide if this product is for you.  One jar of gummies will last you a month, and I’ll check back with you in about 3 weeks to see how you’re feeling. 

 

In this conversation, I did not make any medical claims.  Nor did I bring up the explaination of how I’m not allowed to tell you if it helps Arthritis making the entire industry sound fishy.  Instead, I simply asked some questions, and took the time to explain how the product works, how to use the product correctly, set some realistic expectations of time, and told here things to monitor so if there is a change for the better, they’ll know it may be associated with our products. 

What are the penalties for making medical claims?

Penalties for making false or misleading medical claims can result in hefty fines, negative publicity, lawsuits, and even criminal charges if it is found to be egregious enough. It is always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to making medical claims about your products! 

Can I be sued for making a medical claim on my website?

Yes! If your company makes any false or misleading medical claims about its products, it could be sued for deceptive advertising practices by both customers and competitors alike. 

Government Fines & Penalties

If found guilty of making health claims or improper marketing of CBD or any other products.   You can be fined.  In some cases, companies have been fined $5,000 per product in inventory for labelling voilations.  This turned out to be millions of dollars.  Their company was bankrupt overnight. 

To make matters worse, because the company did not attempt to comply with the FDA’s recommendations, the owners of the company were banned from ever participating in any online or ecommerce sales.  This means these guys are not only broke, but now have no way of making a living.  

These penalties are real, take them seriously.  

Did you know you can have your domain name confiscated?

I must be honest this is a new one for me.  I recently had an SEO guy tell me he had one of his domains suspended for 6 months.  That’s right, completely hijacked and taken off-line by GoDaddy for marketing violations and complaints.  However, apparently, GoDaddy and any other domain registrar for that matter, can suspend your domain for improperly marketing “drug or drug-like products”

Tips to Avoid 3rd Party Medical Claims

Monitor your product reviews

Customer Reviews can get you in big trouble if they make medical claim.  At Hemp Lively, we use a company called CusRev.  CusRev (customer reviews) is a 3rd party review company which can be used on WordPress websites.   The premium version of their plugin and service allows you to manually approve reviews and, if needed because they contain a Health Claim, edit the review before publishing.

Watch out for your affiliates

Affiliate generated content is your content.  Check your new affiliate’s content by following their registered affiliate links through your affiliate program to make sure they stay compliant.  Also, have them sign an Affiliate Terms and Conditions.  Provide them with all the necessary disclosures needed on all affiliate posts and train them in how to avoid making Medical Claims.  (You could just have them read this article. 

Check your Content Creator’s Work Before Publishing

If you’ve employed an in-house or 3rd-party Content Creator, it is still your responsibility to monitor the content they create.  Simply saying “I didn’t write it” has no bearing on liability once it gets to your website or social media page. 

This is an enormous problem in this highly competitive cannabis industry where markgting is limited to just a few channels. 

The first being, SEO which requires hundreds, if not thousands of articles to be written and places all across the internet linking back to your website.  

The second being Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.  These too require content and images. 

Lastly, is website content such as blog posts.  

These can get quite expensive to have an in-house content creation team so most CBD companies outsource these tasks overseas through companies like Fiverr.  Most of these content creators have poor English and no understanding of the legalities regarding CBD and Health Claims.  Other foreign content creators use artificial intelligent content writing (or rewriting) software to autogenerate content.  This poses an even bigger problem

 because the internet, especially when it comes to CBD products, is extremely innacurate.  

shocked man pointing away in studio 2022 11 12 14 57 07 utc.jpeg

If you do use any of these types of services, assign an in-house employee to review all content before it gets published.  Remember, you can get in trouble for making a medical claim:

  • Website Written Content
  • Website Images
  • Social Media Posts (writing and Images)
  • Off-Site Articles your website links to
  • Off-site articles that link to your website.  

Who Regulates Health Claims?

Misbranded products, health and medical claims, medical advice, and all other deceptive marketing practices can fall under the jurisdiction of 2 government bodies, the FDA and FTC, and 1 intermediary dispute resolution company, the NAD.  The FDA focuses on product misbranding, labelling, and web marketing violations while the FTC focuses on television and radio advertisements (which are very limited in the CBD industry).  The NAD is part of the Better Business Bureau and serves as an independent 3rd-part dispute resolution company.  Unresolved dispute cases with the NAD get directly referred to either the FDA or FTC, or both. 

 

  • FDA (Food and Drug Administration): responsible for acting against any adulterated or misbranded dietary supplement product after it reaches the market.
  • FTC (Federal Trade Commission): regulates advertising, including infomercials, for dietary supplements and most other products sold to consumers.
  • NAD (National Advertising Division): serves as a 3rd-party voluntary self-regulation dispute resolution company to settle disagreements between Consumers and Corporations.  The NAD is a division within the Council of the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  Once a dispute is brought to the NAD, both parties submit their sides, and the NAD makes their decision.  At which point, if the company is found to be in the wrong, especially through deceptive or illegal marketing of products, they are given a list of recommended changes.  If they do not comply with all recommendations, the dispute and all violations are brought to the FDA and/or FTC.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

The FDA has been very clear about the types of terms that can and cannot be used by CBD companies when making medical claims. For instance, words like ‘treat’, ‘cure’, ‘prevent’, ‘heal’, ‘alleviate’ and ‘eliminate’ should be avoided at all costs as they often imply that a product is able to treat a medical condition or even cure it altogether. While there is some research indicating that hemp-derived products may have certain health benefits, using terms like these could lead to serious legal ramifications. Here’s what the FDA has to say about health claims.

What does the FDA have to say about health claims and CBD products?

“FDA continues to be concerned at the proliferation of products asserting to contain CBD that are marketed for therapeutic or medical uses although they have not been approved by FDA. Often such products are sold online and are therefore available throughout the country. Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims is not only a violation of the law, but also can put patients at risk, as these products have not been proven to be safe or effective. This deceptive marketing of unproven treatments also raises significant public health concerns because patients and other consumers may be influenced not to use approved therapies to treat serious and even fatal diseases. “

“The FDA has sent warning letters in the past to companies illegally selling CBD products that claimed to prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases, such as cancer. When a product is in violation, the FDA considers many factors in deciding whether to initiate an enforcement action. Those factors include, among other things, agency resources and the threat to public health. FDA also may consult with its federal and state partners in making decisions about whether to initiate a federal enforcement action.”

FDA Warning Letters

The FDA sends out warning letters if they find you’ve made a health or medical claim about a CBD or other hemp-derived product.   Usually, a compay will have 15 days from receipt to respond to the complaint.  Upon review of the response, or lack thereof, the FDA may impose fines or seek State or Federal legal action.  Here is a link to the FDA Warning Letters sent to CBD companies.

Warning Letters and Test Results for Cannabidiol-Related Products

Here are some recent statement by the FDA regarding Medical and Health Claims made by hemp companies.

FDA warns company marketing unapproved cannabidiol products with unsubstantiated claims to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain and pet anxiety

“Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it has issued a warning letter to Curaleaf Inc., of Wakefield, Massachusetts, for illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD) online with unsubstantiated claims that the products treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain and pet anxiety, among other conditions or diseases.”

“As described in the warning letter issued to Curaleaf, the company used product webpages, its online store and social media websites to make unfounded claims about more than a dozen different CBD products. Examples of the unsupported and unapproved claims made by the company include:

  • “CBD has been demonstrated to have properties that counteract the growth of [and/or] spread of cancer.”
  • “CBD was effective in killing human breast cancer cells.” • “CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating Parkinson’s disease.”
  • “CBD has been linked to the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease ….”
  •  “CBD is being adopted more and more as a natural alternative to pharmaceutical-grade treatments for depression and anxiety.”
  • “CBD can also be used in conjunction with opioid medications, and a number of studies have demonstrated that CBD can in fact reduce the severity of opioid-related withdrawal and lessen the buildup of tolerance.”
  • “CBD oil is becoming a popular, all-natural source of relief used to address the symptoms of many common conditions, such as chronic pain, anxiety … ADHD.”
  • “What are the benefits of CBD oil? …. Some of the most researched and well-supported hemp oil uses include …. Anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and even schizophrenia …. Chronic pain from fibromyalgia, slipped spinal discs . . . eating disorders and addiction . . ..”
  • “Vets will prescribe puppy Xanax to pet owners which can help in certain instances but is not necessarily a desirable medication to give your dog continually. Whereas CBD oil is natural and offers similar results without the use of chemicals.”
  • “For dogs experiencing pain, spasms, anxiety, nausea or inflammation often associated with cancer treatments, CBD (aka cannabidiol) may be a source of much-needed relief.”

The FDA has requested responses from Curaleaf within 15 working days stating how the violations will be corrected. Failure to correct the violations promptly may result in legal action, including product seizure and injunction.”

DELTA 8 IN HOT PINK

FDA Issues Warning Letters to Companies Illegally Selling CBD and Delta-8 THC Products

“The FDA is very concerned about the growing popularity of delta-8 THC products being sold online and in stores nationwide. These products often include claims that they treat or alleviate the side effects related to a wide variety of diseases or medical disorders, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, chronic pain, nausea, and anxiety,” said FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Janet Woodcock, M.D. “It is extremely troubling that some of the food products are packaged and labeled in ways that may appeal to children. We will continue to safeguard Americans’ health and safety by monitoring the marketplace and acting when companies illegally sell products that pose a risk to public health.” 

Helpful FDA Links

26 Q&As with links to dozens of resources.

Potential harm, side effects, and future research.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC takes misleading medical claims very seriously. Companies must absolutely refrain from making unsubstantiated or exaggerated health claims regarding their products; otherwise, they risk being accused of false advertising or misbranding drugs. When it comes to advertising medical claims for hemp-derived products like those sold by CBD companies, there are some definite do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.  The FTC regulates all radio and television ads, which are currently limited for CBD and Cannabis companies in most states.  While marketers have some leeway when discussing potential benefits of these products, it’s important not to make unsubstantiated or exaggerated health claims which could result in legal action from the FTC. Being mindful of your language is key when discussing hemp-derived products so that you don’t run afoul of any regulations!

National Advertising Division (NAD)

A division of the Better Business Bureau. 

The NAD is an independent, 3rd-party dispute resolution firm which attempts to settle issues between consumers and CBD companies.  If you’re in trouble making a Medical Claim, this is your best option.  Pending you make the NAD’s recommended changes; in most cases the FDA and FTC do not get involved.  However, if you refuse to participate in their process or do not comply with their recommendations, your case is immediately sent to either the FDA or FTC, or both for a federal investigation.  This could lead to serious fines, jail time, or even shutting down your company. 

Conclusion

CBD is a rapidly growing industry, but that doesn’t mean it’s exempt from regulations and scrutiny. If your website is selling or promoting CBD products, it’s important to understand the rules and regulations surrounding the industry, especially when it comes to making medical claims. It’s illegal for any company marketing or selling CBD products to make false or misleading claims about the product’s health benefits.  Even medical benefits that may be true but do not have the proper clinical research should be avoided.  Stay away from any mention of definitive words like Heal, Treat, Cure, Prevent, Alleviate, Eliminate, and Remedy as well as mentioning any formal Medical Conditions.  Above all, be honest about the products you’re selling.  The fact remains that over 30 million people have tried hemp-derived products and a large portion of those people use them on a regular basis.   If your potential customers are on the fence about trying CBD products, ask them this.  If you could spend less than $50 for the chance it may change your life, would you?  Knowing that there are about 100 different cannabinoids and terpenes in each full spectrum CBD or Whole Plant Hemp product, it’s not a bad gamble.  Trust me your body will know exactly what to do if you just give CBD a chance.”