FDA Cracks Down on Deceptive CBD Advertising
With all these CBD products hitting the market shelves, Hemp Oil producers and manufacturers are marketing their products to target their customers. The CBD market reached the $5 billion mark in 2019 and is expected to keep growing strongly in the coming years.
However, marketing strategies have to follow strict rules when it comes to Hemp Oil, because of the awkward position cannabis finds itself in with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Although CBD is legal for consumption across all 50 states since December 2018, it is not considered a food or medication. Marketing campaigns have to be extremely careful with the claims they make and the way they present their Hemp Oil products because they could face legal challenges.
In December 2020, the FDA cracked down on several CBD producers who were falsely advertising their products. It has also sent warning letters to others, asking them to change the wording of their advertising and marketing campaigns.
Consumers need to become aware of deceptive advertising and to tell the difference between a quality triple-tested Hemp Oil American product and CBD products that make extravagant claims without substantiation.
What is Deceptive Advertising?
Deceptive advertising refers to false claims and unsubstantiated allegations about a product.
In the case of CBD, there are few definitive, scientific, wide-scale research or clinical trials that prove beyond doubt CBD’s effectiveness in treating or alleviating specific diseases or illnesses.
Even though you may have heard health claims regarding CBD and Hemp Oil for years, the FDA has specific processes for approving a product. For example, to approve any health claims, the FDA usually requires so-called DBPCSS studies—Double Blind Placebo Controlled studies with Statistically Significant results.
Since cannabis was an illegal substance until December 2018, scientific research was limited until then. Only after Industrial Hemp and CBD were legalized did medical attention fully turn to the possible benefits of Hemp Oil. However, it is still too soon for anything but anecdotal evidence and small clinical trials.
Deceptive advertising ignores this fact to make unproven claims and mislead consumers into believing that CBD is already an effective treatment for specific ailments or conditions.
Until there is solid scientific evidence, including DBPCSS that target specific subject populations (women, the elderly, children, etc.), making such claims poses dangers for both CBD manufacturers and the health of consumers.
Too often, a compound that seems to work in animals has failed to produce the desired effect in humans or would require such amounts to work as to be toxic. In some cases, a substance has unexpected side effects or unwelcome interactions with certain conditions or medications. For example, CBD may increase intraocular pressure, therefore it is not recommended for glaucoma sufferers.
Finally, dosology is crucial, especially with so-called biphasic substances like CBD. Biphasic compounds exhibit one property in small doses and its opposite in large ones. That may explain how CBD seems to produce a relaxing effect in some cases and increase alertness in others. Without determining the appropriate dosage for each patient or disease, CBD may end up worsening a condition.
Why is Deceptive Advertising Dangerous?
Deceptive advertising is dangerous to both consumers and Hemp Oil producers on many levels.
Putting People’s Lives in Danger
People suffering from an illness could switch from a prescribed therapy to CBD. This may put their health in danger as CBD has not yet been proven to treat diseases such as arthritis, cancer, inflammation, Crohn’s, or Alzheimer’s.
When people are distressed about their health, they will try anything that may solve their problem. Pushing them to try a substance that has not been properly examined is unethical.
Although the World Health Organization describes CBD as well-tolerated, non-intoxicating, non-addictive, and with few side effects, the only condition it has been proven to help with so far is a rare form of children’s epilepsy.
When a CBD business makes false claims, it risks lawsuits from the FDA/FTC but also from competitors who might feel that the unsubstantiated claims are creating unfair competition in the industry.
Likewise, false or unsubstantiated claims could bring about lawsuits from consumers. For instance, promising that CBD can cure arthritis could generate a lawsuit from a patient who believed this claim but saw no improvement in their condition.
Worse, if that person forewent their previous arthritis treatment for CBD, they could be exacerbating their condition and deteriorating their health and quality of life.
What Is the FDA’s and the FTC’s Stance?
So far we only have indications about CBD’s potential. Only one CBD-based medication, Epidiolex, has been approved by the FDA.
Epidiolex is a CBD-based drug that helps alleviate seizures and epileptic crises in children caused by two very rare and specific conditions, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome.
Since 2019, the world has turned its attention to CBD. Producers, manufacturers, and marketers have produced thousands of different products, leading to the market’s explosive increase. However, the market remains relatively unregulated and some marketers are making false claims that could put people’s health at risk.
The FDA has stated that CBD cannot be marketed as food, medication, or dietary supplement. Therefore, advertising cannot include any of these words.
The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) considers misleading any promises of CBD preventing, curing, treating, or mitigating a specific disease without scientific and substantiated proof. In order to support such promises, marketers need to have scientific evidence to back their claims. Scientific evidence is based on tests, clinical trials, and studies (ideally DBPCSS ones) run and evaluated by qualified people and professionals.
What Cannot Be Mentioned When Marketing CBD?
To avoid legal complications, CBD manufacturers and marketers must refrain from making healing, curing, or treating promises. They should avoid recommending CBD as a treatment for certain illnesses or suggesting specific health or medical benefits.
Likewise, making definitive claims such as ‘this product will decrease your inflammation’ or ‘that product will soothe your pain’ may attract the attention of the federal government.
CBD products cannot be targeted at children and all websites and e-shops can only be viewed by people aged 21 years and older.
How Do I Make Sure My Product is FDA and FTC Compliant?
Since the CBD market is relatively unregulated, Hemp Oil producers must be careful with the marketing of their products.
Hemp Oil producers must clearly state the content of their products. They must include all ingredients, including CBD percentage and traces of THC—which must always be less than 0.3%.
Trustworthy and quality producers run third-party tests on their products to make sure the quality, purity, and content of their products can be verified by the relevant labs. Showing your Certificate of Analysis (CoA) not only alleviates consumers’ fears and concerns but also makes you stand out for your professionalism.
Here at Synchronicity, we carry out the first of many third-party quality checks at the farm. Before we even harvest the hemp and send it off to the lab, it’s tested by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) to ensure that the THC levels are 0.3% or less and that no mold, pesticides, or other hazardous chemicals have contaminated the plants.
Once we have the concentrated oil, we then have a third-party lab test it for potency before we diluted it with MCT or coconut oil. Once it’s at the required dilution, we send it off for testing again—that’s three tests so far. We run third-party tests at all important junctures of the manufacturing process.
Properly analyzing and testing the ingredients is crucial. Consumers have tested positive for THC during routine work-related drug tests after taking mislabeled CBD products that had more THC than advertised. As a result, some have lost their jobs. It is imperative to be absolutely sure about the THC content of all CBD products.
Likewise, terms such as ‘THC-free’, ‘0% THC’, ‘organic,’ and ‘free-from’ must be carefully labeled and properly certified.
What Do We Know About CBD?
There is growing research regarding CBD and its future potential in treating or alleviating a variety of ailments and conditions.
The scientific community is focusing its attention on CBD’s potential to assist with chronic diseases such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease, or asthma. There is also interest in CBD’s possible benefits in terms of insomnia, depression, and anxiety. And there is increasing research into CBD’s potential to help with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis.
Unfortunately, and pending concrete results from large-scale trials, most evidence comes from small-scale trials and studies on animals—which looks promising but is not definitive.
Is Hemp Seed Oil the Same as Hemp Oil?
Another deceptive marketing ploy is for CBD producers to claim that hemp seed oil and Hemp Oil are the same product. They are not—and this should be clearly labeled.
Hemp seed oil is produced from the seeds of the hemp flowers. It has moisturizing qualities and is widely used in cosmetic products. It is also a tasty cooking oil that can be added to food and salads. However, hemp seed oil contains no CBD.
Unlike hemp seed oil, Hemp Oil contains CBD and other cannabinoids. CBD is only found in the flowers and leaves of hemp, not in the seeds. To extract the CBD from the flowers, we use our patented LipidTrans™ infusion process; a gentle process that requires specialized machinery and professional expertise. The Hemp Oil is then diluted with coconut oil or MCT oil, both of which contain beneficial fatty acids, to absorb the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and vitamins found in Hemp.
This makes Hemp Oil products more expensive than hemp seed oil products. Hemp seed oil products should be clearly labeled and not make any claims about their CBD content.
Choosing the Right CBD Products
When choosing the right Hemp Oil product for you, you should keep some simple guidelines in mind.
Always buy from a trustworthy source. Hemp is a bio-remediation plant: this means it cleans the soil from heavy metals and pesticides. Farmers all over the world, particularly in Asia, use it to clean up contaminated soil. When you make Hemp Oil from such Hemp, these find their way into it—which is the last thing you want.
That’s why our very first test, before we even pick the Hemp flowers, is on the plant itself, to ensure its purity.
Certificate of Analysis
Trustworthy and professional Hemp Oil producers have their Certificate of Analysis clearly displayed. This means they run third-party lab tests to confirm the purity and content of their products.
The Absence of Extravagant Claims
If you see a Hemp Oil product making extraordinary and extravagant claims, you know they are not professionals. The FDA and the FTC forbid such claims and monitor these businesses.
But extravagant claims also point to a producer who is not interested in the wellbeing and health of their customers and only cares about profits and market share.
American products follow specific guidelines and regulations. American Hemp producers have to adhere to strict rules that ensure the Hemp’s purity. As a bonus, choosing American products helps American growers, American producers, and American businesses.
Attention to Detail
Everything plays a role: the quality of the packaging, the glass bottles—which are always better than plastic ones—and even the information available on the website are tell-tale signs of a business that is professional, expert, and dedicated to its customers.
Choose Your Hemp Oil Carefully
The FDA has stated that CBD cannot be marketed as a drug, food, or dietary supplement. However, it has held back so far from publishing any further guidelines. It is believed that the FDA will soon issue new guidelines about the regulatory framework pertaining to CBD. Until it does, the Hemp Oil market remains relatively murky and unregulated.
Hemp Oil is being investigated for its potential. Preliminary evidence is promising but there are few DBPCSS yet that prove you can use CBD as a medication against specific ailments or conditions.
Consumers should stay clear of any unsubstantiated claims that promise you can heal, cure, treat, or prevent any disease with Hemp Oil.
Consumers wishing to buy Hemp Oil products should be careful when choosing their brand. American CBD products are better monitored and American Hemp growers must follow strict cultivation rules that provide for clean and safe Industrial Hemp.
Hemp Oil producers who test their products in third-party labs show their dedication to professionalism and excellent quality. Their labels clearly display the content and percentages of each ingredient, particularly when it comes to THC.
Choosing a quality Hemp Oil product could enhance your quality of life and help you increase your sense of well-being. However, grandiose and ludicrous claims about CBD are signs of CBD manufacturers and marketers who are not interested in their customers but prefer to engage in deceptive advertising.
Here at Synchronicity, we guarantee your health by avoiding harsh CO2 extraction processes, using sustainable farming practices for all of our plants, and overseeing the gentle hand-pressing and coconut oil fusion of our products. We triple-test everything at third-party testing facilities to ensure that everything we create is safe and reliable. Synchronicity—the passionate Hemp Oil producers.