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CBD Companies Face Advertising Troubles- Calls for FDA Regulation and Compliance with Laws for Platforms like Facebook

CBD Companies Face Advertising

According to the federal regulations, hemp-derived cannabinoid was legalized last year in December under the Farm Bill Act which decriminalized cannabinoid and removed it from the list of Controlled Substances Act. Since then, there has been a heavy influx of CBD based products in the consumer market. However, there has been a major confusion around the marketing and advertising of these products. 


While the federal government has approved hemp-derived cannabinoids, the highly acclaimed medical benefits of CBD are yet to be backed up by science. Intensive research and study need to be conducted to thoroughly evaluate and understand the impact of cannabinoid on humans. Many studies claim that CBD is highly effective in treating mental health disorders like stress, depression, anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy and even Alzheimer’s in rare cases. 


Having conducted a study on CBD and deriving its results is one thing, but implementing those results safely in a community of thousands of billions of people is another. As per the FDA, the agency allows only one CBD based drug named Epidiolex for treating two rare forms of severe epilepsy in children. Other than that, the agency has expressed its concerns towards the rising inclination by people for CBD compared to other prescription-based medications. 


Companies have started to market their CBD products as a medical wonder, claiming that it can treat a wide range of diseases. But unless the FDA is clear on the impact of CBD and creates a regulatory framework that supports legal and fair marketing and advertising of CBD products, it prohibits companies from using any medical health benefits as a part of their CBD marketing campaigns. 


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to companies like Curaleaf for advertising their CBD products with unsubstantiated claims of medical benefits. It warns companies to comply with the guidelines laid out by the agency until it clears out the structure for CBD’s marketing campaigns. 


The agency held a public meeting on 31 May 2019 to discuss CBD and its regulatory framework with stakeholders, retailers, business leaders, consumers, researchers, scientists and many others. The outcome of the meeting still hasn’t come and the companies along with the consumers remain in a grey area, confused if it is even legal to consume CBD based products, let alone market them in any manner. 

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Apart from this, another contributing factor that is an obstacle for companies to fully market their cannabinoid products is the hesitance by social media platforms like Facebook which denies promoting CBD based products. The platform has reportedly been deleting entire profiles and pages on Facebook that in any way promote CBD and its products. Lacey Steffes, the owner of Spa Serenity, said that when she tried to post an ad for her CBD spa services on Facebook earlier, that featured a marijuana leaf, her entire business ad account was disabled immediately.  


Spa Serenity is a small business based out of Baraboo Wisconsin that offers an array of CBD variety of CBD infused treatments for relaxation and rejuvenation. Steffes was highly disappointed in the way Facebook responded to her ad and was annoyed. But she isn’t alone, almost everyone who is dealing with CBD based ads on Facebook is facing a similar issue. 


Monika Allen, a freelance copywriter who works with multiple brands and businesses also experienced somewhat of a similar experience. She handles the social media account for one of her clients in the health and wellness niche and when running content even closely related to CBD, she faced a similar issue. 


It is time for companies to comply with laws that are laid out by the federal government. Many states have also legalized hemp-derived CBD with a controlled amount of THC and altered their previous regulations for the product. 


Unless marketing companies and social media platforms like Facebook support retailers and business owners, scaling up seems like a difficult task to achieve. Not only is this costing sellers but also confusing consumers and pushing them away from a product that could possibly improve their health and lifestyle. 

Ivan writes about Cannabis at The Cannabis Radar. He has a degree in Nutrition Sciences from University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre. He likes to spend his spare time reading to his daughter or spending time with his wife.

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