FDA, FTC slap CBD industry with seven warning letters related to COVID claims


U.S. health and trade authorities this week issued a record seven warning letters in a single day to companies making CBD, the biggest federal action against the industry in over a year.

Warning letters from the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission targeted companies making COVID-related claims. It was the first time so many CBD companies had been targeted in a single day.

They were the first warnings issued since this year’s release of multiple scientific studies showing that CBD, cannabinoid acids and even synthetic cannabis compounds may prevent or treat COVID-19 infections.

The agencies said in a Tuesday announcement that they were alarmed to see cannabinoid companies “using research studies to claim or imply misleadingly that their CBD products will cure, mitigate, treat or prevent COVID-19.”

The companies that received warnings were:

The companies were given 48 hours to scrub their websites and social media posts of product listings that “misleadingly represent them as safe and/or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19.”

The warning letters were dated Monday, the same day that FDA asked Congress to change a 1994 law regulating dietary supplements “to facilitate enforcement against unlawfully marketed products.”

The FDA said the changes would allow the agency “to know when new products are introduced, quickly identify dangerous or illegal products on the market, and take appropriate action to protect consumers when necessary.”

Companies that don’t comply could face product seizures or even criminal charges.

Messages from MJBizDaily to the affected companies weren’t immediately returned Wednesday.

Asa Waldstein, a principal at the Supplement Advisory Group, wrote online that the warning letters were “not surprising.”

“This FDA/FTC action should not come as a surprise to anyone following enforcement trends,” Waldstein wrote in an email to MJBiz.

“There are some pearls of wisdom in these warning letters,” Waldstein wrote. “They show the FDA/FTC narrowing position on the use of clinical study citations and ‘educational’ blogs on commercial websites. Unfortunately, this puts a smudge on the hemp industry, and I hope it will be a springboard for future ethical marketing discussion.”

This year’s research findings supporting the role of cannabis in human health, and in fighting COVID-19 illness, sparked a boom for wholesale hemp extracts.