The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sent three new warning letters on September 10, 2019 to producers of cannabidiol (CBD) products. As of this writing, the letters have not been made public and we do not yet know who received them.
This is the second time that the FTC has sent warning letters to CBD companies. The first time was on March 28, 2019, in three letters sent jointly with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Those letters were sent to Nutra Pure LLC; PotNetwork Holdings, Inc.; and Advanced Spine and Pain, LLC (d/b/a Relievus). In them, the FTC contends that the products advertised by these companies may violate the FTC Act by making false or unsubstantiated health claims, including that CBD can “effectively treat diseases, [such as] Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, and neuropsychiatric disorders.” The second round of letters appear to have been written for similar reasons.
It is important to note that, while the FTC’s concerns are similar to the FDA’s, the underlying laws and basis for sending the letters are different. The FDA regulates human and veterinary drugs, biological products, and medical devices. Its primary mission is to protect the public’s health. The FTC regulates business practices, with a primary mission of preventing unfair competition. The FTC letters to CBD producers are about advertising unsubstantiated health claims. (Note the focus on the term “advertised”, since this goes to the issue of commerce.) The FTC has stated that it is “concerned that one or more of the efficacy claims cited above may not be substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.” Specifically, it contends that