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Shaky MMJ Health Claims Could Trigger Federal Crackdown

FDA Investigation Cannabis Now
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


Shaky MMJ Health Claims Could Trigger Federal Crackdown

The FDA is hinting they’ll investigate cannabis products that claim, among other things, to cure cancer.

If you’re dissatisfied with your board-certified doctor’s advice or disheartened by what a heap of scientific data is patiently trying to tell you, tread lightly — and don’t be tempted to believe all the claims about medical marijuana products that you read.

The most cursory of internet searches turns up a host of makers peddling products they say contain CBD, which those companies tout as guaranteed to provide amazing attendant medical benefits. Good for everything from acne to cancer!

The problem is that some of these products are pure snake oil, certified bunk. But more importantly, even if the products deliver on their claims, there are laws restricting who can make such lofty promises.

A bigger problem, possibly for everyone else in the space not playing with such fire: the federal government is starting to take notice.

Last year, the US Food and Drug Administration mailed warning letters to a number of companies selling products they claimed contained CBD. In some instances, the products sold contained no CBD at all.

But worse than the false claims of CBD, in the FDA’s view, were the claims that the products had any medical value in the first place.

Last Tuesday, Scott Gottlieb, Donald Trump’s FDA commissioner, hinted to Congress that a federal crackdown could follow the letters sent by his Obama-era predecessor.

“I see people who are developing products who are making claims that marijuana has antitumor effects in the setting of cancer,” Gottlieb said during a Congressional hearing on an unrelated matter, according to Bloomberg. “It’s a much broader question about where our responsibility is to step into this.”

There was no hint as to which companies, if any, Gottlieb was referring to, or what form — if any — additional scrutiny from the feds would take.

But this is an issue that’s been percolating for some time, and self-regulation has proven totally inadequate.

Natural supplements and other non-pharmaceutical-based cures sold in health-food stores are very careful to make clear that they can’t claim to heal anything. This is something they cannot do without submitting their product to rigorous testing — of the kind specifically designed to see if the claim has any merit, and to protect consumers from any claims that turn out to be false.

Scrupulous companies in both the cannabis and in the hemp-based CBD worlds take the same care to ensure they make no such promises to their customers. For, as any honest lawyer would tell them: legally, they cannot.

Those prohibitions are there for consumer protection. Companies violating these rules may not be snake-oil-peddling crooks — they might have the best of intentions, maybe — but it doesn’t matter. They’re now bringing scrutiny down on themselves and the rest of the cannabis sector.

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