This week, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) sent warning letters to three companies that sell cannabidiol (“CBD”) products regarding the health claims found in the companies’ advertisements.

The companies sold a variety of products containing CBD, including oils, tinctures, capsules, creams, and “gummies.” Each company claimed that its CBD products can prevent, treat, or cure serious diseases, health conditions, and chronic pain. One company claimed that its product could treat pain better than opioid painkillers and that CBD was “clinically” proven to treat a host of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer, and multiple sclerosis.  The company further claimed that it participated in “thousands of hours of research” with Harvard researchers.  The other two companies likewise made similar claims that their CBD products could treat pain and other conditions such as depression, fibromyalgia, heart disease, cancer and autism.

The FTC’s letters urged the companies to review their marketing claims to ensure they are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The letters warned the companies that selling CBD products without such substantiation could draw legal action and an order to refund money to consumers. The companies have 15 days within receipt of the letter to respond to the FTC’s inquiry and provide the specific acts they have taken to address the FTC’s concerns.

Takeaway: Marketers selling CBD products should avoid making any express or implied health or therapeutic benefit claims about their products unless they are properly substantiated with competent and reliable scientific evidence.