MJBizMag February 2021 - 42

Limiting Your Liability
Staying on the Right
Side of Regulators
By avoiding health claims, CBD producers
can promote their products without drawing
the ire of the FDA or FTC
Asa Waldstein
By Asa Waldstein
" I
t's the Wild West out there! "
How often have you heard that
statement made about health
claims for products containing CBD? But
here's the thing: It's not the Wild West,
Lesley Fair, senior attorney with the
Federal Trade Commission, noted in a
recent blog post.
Gone are the days when a CBD
company could make " health claims " or
" disease claims, " as they are referred to by
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration,
without fear of strict government retribution.
The FDA does not allow disease
claims such as " suggested treatment for
anxiety " to be made on dietary supplements
or hemp products in any form.
During the past two years, the FDA
and the FTC have increased enforcement
actions against companies making online
marketing claims in blogs, social media,
websites and more.
WHAT IS A CLAIM?
Before marketing a CBD product, it's
important to know what constitutes a
health or disease claim. Here are a few
general rules to help determine if a claim
is being made:
* Anything ending in " itis " refers to
inflammation, such as arthritis.
* Anything a drug is " indicated for, "
such as Xanax being indicated for
anxiety.
* Anything with " anti " in the name,
such as anti-inflammatory.
* The name of any illness, such as
depression.
To find out if the FDA already has sent
out warning letters related to a health
claim, search the terms " FDA warning
letter + insert claim. "
WHAT CAN/CAN'T I SAY?
Marketing rule No. 1: Be truthful and don't
mislead the consumer; at the same time,
be effective in growing the business. Since
nothing in the CBD business is risk-free, it's
important to convey a marketing message
in an ethical and low-risk manner.
For example, a brand might feel it has
competent data to make a statement
about improved quality of sleep. This
same message crosses the line to high
risk if it talks about use for insomnia,
which the FDA considers a disease claim.
Here are two examples:
* Using the words " pain " and
" inflammation " are considered
midlevel risks and should be
avoided. A more compliant way to
state such information is to address
a product's use for discomfort.
* CBD is widely touted for anxiety, but
the FDA is likely to flag companies
using this term for making a disease
claim. If accurate, replace the term
with " happy mood support " or
" balanced state of mind. " These
phrases get the point across without
using buzzwords that might increase
the chance of drawing the attention
of regulators. Again, be sure to never
mislead your consumer, and be ready
to substantiate any statements if
necessary.
42 Marijuana Business Magazine | February 2021
Topical CBD products are generally
thought to carry a lower regulatory
risk than ingestible products. Topicals
(cosmetics) are defined as products applied
to the human body for cleansing,
beautifying, promoting attractiveness or
altering the appearance.
A common mistake companies make
when marketing topicals is advertising
them for inflammation, pain or any
other symptomatic relief. By using claims
outside of the " beautifying " definition, an
otherwise-compliant topical product is
turned into a drug simply by using words
such as pain.
HASHTAGS AND OTHER
CONSIDERATIONS
Many people enter the hemp world
from other industries and might not
understand the nuances of marketing
dietary supplements and hemp-based
CBD products. For example, standard
practices from tech or apparel such as
hashtags and product descriptions do
not necessarily translate into compliant
strategies for marketing hemp-based
CBD products.
Here are a few examples:
Hashtags and photographs: Tagging
a photo #Relief is relatively lower risk,
whereas #PainRelief is risky and would
shift an otherwise compliant post to an
elevated risk level.
Depression: A post about depression
awareness could be considered
compliant, as companies have the right
to speak about issues that are important

MJBizMag February 2021

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