As COVID-19 continues to rapidly spread, individuals are seeking remedies to prevent or mitigate the effects of COVID-19. Some companies are claiming their CBD products can provide a variety of immunities from COVID-19. These unsubstantiated claims pose not only a threat to consumers who believe these claims but also to the credibility of other cannabis businesses and the cannabis industry as a whole.
State and federal government agencies keep a close eye on health-related claims made by companies that provide CBD products, specifically those relating to the potential health benefits of CBD. States with medical or recreational cannabis regulations generally contain provisions prohibiting advertising that contains any false or misleading information. Without scientific evidence substantiating the claims made, government agencies are reluctant to permit advertising that states there are health benefits to consuming CBD products.
On April 1, the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to the headquarters of Neuro XPF — a CBD products company — demanding the company cease the sale and advertising of products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis or cure of COVID-19. The FDA stated in its letter that such claims qualify the CBD products as “unapproved new drugs sold in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act)” and as “misbranded drugs under section 502 of the FD&C Act.” Neuro XPF had a page of its website titled “CRUSH CORONA,” which stated the best defense against COVID-19 starts with a strong immune system. The company wanted “everyone to take CBD and take advantage of its potential to help prepare your body to fight against a coronavirus infection.” Neuro XPF promptly removed the page from its website.
Attorney generals are dealing with this issue on the state level as well. For example, the Oregon Attorney General’s Office forced a Portland CBD store to take down advertising claiming its products could increase lung support immunity to fight COVID-19. While the store did not intend to mislead consumers with their advertising, the attorney general interpreted the sign as a claim that CBD provides an immunity from COVID-19. Similarly, New York Attorney General Letitia James ordered a CBD products company to cease and desist the marketing of its product, which the company claimed provided “Protection from Corona Virus with Immunity Oil.”
It is important during this time that cannabis businesses remain accountable and ensure they are following state and federal regulations regarding advertising. Without scientific evidence, cannabis businesses may not claim CBD provides any form of immunity or cure to COVID-19. Businesses should refrain from making any claims that suggest their CBD products may prevent or mitigate the effects of COVID-19.