FTC Issues Statements to Warn Several CBD Retailers on Concerning Health Claims Made
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued detailed warning letters to four companies responsible for selling hemp-derived CBD products. Although the companies were not initially identified, their names became known by a public records request. The FTC website reveals exactly which portions of wrongdoings CBD brands did.
The Second Wave of FTC CBD Warning Letters
The newest cycle of FTC warning letters circulating were sent to these CBD companies;
- First Class Herbalist CBD
- NutLife CBD Oils
The warning letters are all dated September 9, 2019, each one identifying examples of questionable language per all four companies receiving the alert. Being advocates of CBD consumer protection and and user-safety guide reporting, it is important to stay up to date on the latest CBD news about product awareness and education (both using and buying).
Reviewing First Class Herbalist Oils as a Case Study
For those purpose of unraveling the warning letter's intent, this case study examines and highlights the areas of feedback mentioned. It's the best place to start learning what the FTC said went wrong as a whole.
By visiting the Herbalist Oils CBD website, it is a way to compare the main emphasis stressed by the FTC and find the line in the sand about using the ‘CRS Evidence' method, or “not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence.” While industry compliance is still forming, many websites have associated CBD oil with dozens of different medical conditions and therapeutic effects. This is no bueno when much of CBD use for humans is understudied due to a stronghold grip at the federal level on medical marijuana research.
The letter to the First-Class company's registered agent informs the recipient of the concerns around one or more health benefit claims identified in the letter that did not have ‘CRS'.
Then, the descriptive letter specifically identifies excerpts from the company’s websites (statements can be read in full in the letter down below). For firstclassherbalistcbd.com, the statements in question involve claims that CBD oil has been “medically proven” to regulate one’s endocannabinoid system, that it can address issues such as hypertension and cardiovascular problems.
The statements also claim that CBD may offer a “safe remedy” for conditions such as depression and bipolar disorder,” and that the brand’s CBD oil may have a “positive impact” on cognitive decline related to age. Then, lastly it spotlighted ‘testimonials' ‘verifiability'.
The letter identifies a real success story from a user named “Kandi,” who explains that she took CBD for six months, her oncologist encouraged her to keep doing whatever she’s doing, and that her energy is “slowly coming back” and that she “feels wonderful.” These overly aggressive advertising tactics were red-flagged and the primary stressors from the FTC.
The FTC warned Herbalist Oils to review the claims about its cannabidiol-infused products, and to ensure that they are supported by “competent and reliable scientific evidence.” It also warned that violations may result in legal action, injunction, or cease and desist order. The Respondents of warning letters did seem to eliminate the use of ‘treatment' and any disease-references. In addition to the website oversight guidelines, brands must also adhere to these suggestions to any offline or non-public facing marketing avenues too.
The letter described above can be viewed here, along with the letter concerning magicgreenoildrops.com, and the letters to NutLife CBD Oils, Ocanna, and Relievus. The remaining notices are similar to the first, where the FTC pinpoints the specific statements that are of concern and that may result in action. Compliance policies are coming, but they are not here yet – protect yourself as users and buyers of CBD.
First Class Herbalist Oils Product Line List:
To understand what the First Class Herbalist CBD company is, look no further than their product line. On a website that says their “products are expertly crafted for potency always being 100% pure and free from adulterants”, as anyone can see there many have been too much ‘spiked hype-punch' regarding the beneficial effects of CBD on their product sales page.
What Products do they Offer?
First Class Herbalist CBD operates within the CBD industry, with their main focus resting on hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD). They appear to be in business for over one year as of now.
Consumers can choose from 12 different product types including CBD oils, skincare serums, roll-ons, pain creams, coffee, gummies and pet products. Here is a list of all dozen products:
- First Class Herbalist CBD Oil Drops (Full Spectrum CBD 100mg)
- First Class Herbalist Deep Sleep Blend Roll-On (Essential Oil Blend 10ml)
- First Class Herbalist Deep Relief Pain Cream with Hemp Oil (3.4 oz)
- First Class Herbalist Deep Sleep Roll-On with Hemp Oil
- First Class Herbalist Serum-Y Overnight Youth with Hemp (30ml)
- First Class Herbalist Coffee + CBD (Colombian ground coffee with 5mg/serving)
- First Class Herbalist CBD Gummies (30 piece 150mg per jar)
- First Class Herbalist CBD Pain Rub (50mg full spectrum hemp extract)
- First Class Herbalist Pet CBD Drops with Hemp Oil (100mg Joint & Pain Relief)
- First Class Herbalist CBD Turmeric ( Full spectrum Turmeric CBD 30ml)
- First Class Herbalist Skin Science CBD Skin Serum (Anti-Aging Face Cream)
- First Class Herbalist Pet Calm Anti-Anxiety (30ml blend)
All of the products are shown with a $89.95 price tag on the firstclassherbalistcbd.com/ website. Here’s a detailed analysis of a number of their products that have details available:
Turmeric CBD ($89.95)
As the name indicates, this respective oil combines turmeric and full-spectrum CBD. For those looking for a dietary supplement that supports one’s daily pains, this might be the product to go with, as it claims to restore joints and muscles health, while ridding inflammation. This pairing seems natural given the fact that both CBD and turmeric carry anti-inflammatory properties. There are no linked studies or product certification of analysis visible.
Anti-Aging Skin Serum CBD + Vitamin C ($89.95)
First Class Herbalist CBD describes this skin serum as a “Facelift in a bottle”. This might be due to the duo’s (i.e. CBD and Vitamin C) ability to potentially brighten one’s skin tone, while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. As for the strength of CBD, like the aforementioned product, it remains unveiled. Again, no studies cited or product CoA included.
Coffee + CBD ($89.95)
The coffee used in this mixture is said to consist of Columbian coffee, with 5mg of CBD present per serving. Consumers have been advised to mix one level tablespoon of the ground coffee mixture per 4 ounces of water. There’s no exact ratio as consumers can take less or more depending on their taste preferences. Same pattern as the others, no ‘CRS'
CBD Gummies ($89.95)
Containing 150mg of CBD per jar of 30 counts, the CBD Gummies could be an option for those who would prefer to ingest CBD in a masked way, namely, without really tasting its natural flavor. That said, details as to what exactly went into the gummies do not appear to be clear. And in uniform fashion, no product test results or product verification paperwork.
Now that we have a list of what their website said, let's compare to what the FTC issued.
What the FTC Sent First Class Herbalist Oils CBD Brand
This notice was sent over a month ago. Since then, First Class Herbalist CBD appears to have reconsidered their CBD claims and other product-benefits as the website is now down. In terms of reputation, the brand has work to do to improve their Better Business Bureau profile as there are many customer reviews about the Herbalist Oils that are not so pleasant. They have done what’s normally accepted by society, appealing to consumers who prefer diversity by offering twelve different variations. But aside from what looks to be a new legal spat with CBD Company ‘Coffee By Design', they face the issues the FTC touched on.
The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) is an independent federal agency whose mission is to maintain a competitive marketplace for the benefit of both businesses and consumers. The FTC seeks to protect consumers by enforcing laws and rules that promote truth in advertising and fair business practices, and by educating consumers and businesses about their rights and responsibilities. We are writing to express concern that you may be making false or unsubstantiated advertising claims about the health benefits of products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant..
Next, it hints that the ‘deceivingly unfair advertising' on each company's website about CBD:
Sections 5(a) and 12 of the FTC Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 45(a) and 52, prohibit unfair or deceptive advertising. Specifically, it is unlawful to advertise that a product can prevent, treat, or cure human disease unless the advertiser possesses competent and reliable scientific evidence,
Next, everything is broken down into quotes taken directly from the FTC warning letter:
” Excerpts from www .magicgreenoildrops.com ”
” Complete Relief CBD – Clinically Validated Cannabidiol ”
” SPECIAL REPORT: Woman Paralyzed By Pain Discovers Breakthrough Relief Called ‘Nature's Oxycontin' ….”
” Complete Relief CBD has been called “Nature's Oxycontin” because it quickly relieves even the most agonizing pain …. Many say it works like magic. Some say it works better than prescription painkillers like Vicodin and Oxycontin …. ”
” [Dr.] Jamie [Richardson] applied for a research grant to run the first ever FDA approved clinical trial involving CBD. With the help of Harvard researchers and medical doctors, Jamie led a clinical trial studying the effects of CBD on pain and inflammation. The results were astonishing. Through their research, they discovered a multitude of other health benefits of CBD they never anticipated. Richardson's team ran additional follow-up studies that concluded CBD is nothing short of a real medical miracle. ”
” CBD has now been clinically proven to: ”
- Reduce social anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in patients diagnosed with Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
- Decrease cancer spread by “turning off’ genes involved in tumor development Combat neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s by removing plaque that block neuron-signaling
- Reduces cigarette addiction by modulating the rewarding the effects of nicotine
- [R]estore respiratory stability to those experiencing sleep Apnea
- Clears acne by inhibiting lipid synthesis on the skin
- Regulates blood sugar and lowers insulin resistance
- Provide relief to those suffering from IBD (Chron’s [sic] or Colitis) through its anti-inflammatory effects
- Improves symptoms of MS (multiple sclerosis) by providing durable protection to neurons
- Prevents obesity….
” [Dr. Jamie Richardson] teamed up with his group of Harvard researchers to create Complete Relief CBD, a brand of medical grade CBD supplements developed through thousands of hours of research and clinical trials …. All 5 [venture capital investors from the television show Shark Tank] jumped on the opportunity to invest in Complete Relief CBD with confidence, calling it the … ”
” – “Natural Miracle Cure That Will Bring Down Big Pharma” * * *
Morgan Freeman: “The Only Thing That Offers Relief For Fibromyalgia is CBD” – ”
” [O]ur senior editor Tanya Johnson volunteered for our experiment. Tanya was chosen because of her history with Rheumatoid Arthritis, a painful autoimmune condition doctors don't yet have a complete cure for. Below is her story …”
” Tanya's Real Life Experience With Complete Relief CBD … ”
” One day, while watching an episode of The Doctors, I heard Dr. Travis Stork talk about a natural solution to pain management and inflammation that's even more effective than prescription meds. Of course, the solution was CBD and the brand he recommended was Complete Relief CBD … . So I decided to order a risk-free sample and give it a shot. Within a few weeks, my pain completely disappeared and my normal panic attacks began to subside …. I not only saved thousands of dollars, but also the hassle of doctor visits and therapy sessions thanks to Complete Relief CBD ”
” Get a Risk-Free Trial Today ”
” Finally a Cannabidiol Supplement that is medically validated and absolutely legal! ”
” Excerpts from www.offer.firstclassherbalistcbd.com[ … l; Linked from the “Get a Risk-Free Trial Today” ”
” Button The Science of CBD (CANNABIDOIL) ”
” CBD Oil has been medically proven to positively regulate your endocannabinoid system] addressing issues such as … hypertension and even cardiovascular issues …. ”
- Psychological Benefits: …. [I]n some cases may offer a safe remedy for depression and bipolar disorders.
- Neurological Benefits: Our CBD Oil's positive impact on the neural system helps reduce age-related cognitive decline ….
” REAL SUCCESS STORIES! ”
” After a big cancer scare, I started taking CBD about 6 months ago and LOVE IT! . My Oncologist said whatever you are doing to keep doing it. I have used a few brands and my favorite is by far Herbalist Oils CBD. My energy is slowly coming back and I feel wonderful” – Kandi
The FTC also added comments about apparent users of the First Class Herbalist CBD oils. Each of these three examples all had names as (verified owner), timestamps and positive feedback.
Adria, said “This cream is wonderful and has really helped my arthritis” using CBD Pain Cream.
Peter Prinsen, said, “I have arthritis in both feet and after using the 1000 mg product for a few days got significant relief from the pain. Orthotics has helped a little but nothing has helped as much as the cream.”
Next, the FTC targeted the ‘citations of studies‘ where they said:
Further, industry participants should be wary of statements made concerning studies, as citation of their findings may not be enough to qualify as CRS Evidence.
And gave the specific reference regarding the potential violation of ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence' (CRS Evidence) here:
- “A 2015 study found that CBD may be neuprotective [sic] in adult and neonatal ischemia, brain trauma, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s chorea, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease).”
The closed the warning letter sent to 4Bush and Herbalist Oils by saying:
We strongly urge you to review all claims for your products, including consumer testimonials, and ensure that those claims are supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. Violations of the FTC Act may result in legal action seeking a federal district court injunction or an administrative cease and desist order. An order also may require that you refund money to consumers.
With regard to the advertising claims discussed above, please notify staff attorney Keith Fentonmiller via electronic mail at firstname.lastname@example.org within fifteen (15) working days of receipt of this letter, of the specific actions you have taken to address FTC staff's concerns. If you have any questions regarding compliance with the FTC Act, please contact Mr. Fentonrniller at 202-326-2775.
Lastly, the CBD industry at-large faces the FTC AND the FDA. Both federal authorities have issued CBD-infused focused firms cautionary letters about their websites having ‘verifiable' consumer testimonials and beneficial claims that need to be supported by ‘competent and reliable scientific evidence' as mentioned above.
FTC AND FDA Warning Letters are Not New
This is not the first time the FTC has sent out warning letters to companies making unsubstantiated claims about CBD products. For example, the FTC sent out warning letters to several companies in March 2019. These companies include:
- NutraPure LLC
- Pot Networking Holdings, Inc.
- Advanced Spine and Pain, LLC (d/b/a Relievus)
The Nutra Pure letter warns, in part, the company that although the company’s products are referred to as dietary supplements (and are one of the few CBD companies who posts their independent lab test results on the homepage), the FDA has determined that given available evidence, that CBD products “are excluded from the dietary supplement definition” under certain laws. The letter further explains, I part, that there are several claims observed on the CBDPure's website that “establish the intended use” of the products s drugs, such as the claims that CBD is a treatment option for Alzheimer’s, and that it has anti-emetic, anti-convulsive, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic properties. This is the main issue identified on the website. The letter also delves into the company’s unsubstantiated advertising claims.
In regard to PotNetworkHoldings, Inc., the letter indicates, in part, that there are some claims that were observed on the company’s website that suggest its intent to be used as a drug. Specifically, the letter refers to the statements on the website that explain what is CBD. Further, like the first letter, this letter also highlights the statements concerning CBD as a potential treatment potion for Alzheimer’s. The statements inform the viewer that CBD has been shown to “possess neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties in the lab.” This is but one example. The letter also refers to the brand’s “Liquid Gold Gummies” and that the drug is “misbranded” under certain legal provisions. The FTC also found issue with the brand’s blue CBD Crystals Isolate 1500 mg.
Concerning Advanced Spine and Pain, LLC (d/b/a Relievus), the letter indicates, in part, that the FTC reviewed the company’s website, and determined that its “CBD Salve” and “CBD Oil” are drugs, and not dietary supplements. Further, the letter indicates that the language concerning the products shows that the company “may intend to market” the products as a dietary supplement, but it cannot be so because the product does not fall under the definition of dietary supplement. The letter also addresses the labeling of the brand’s “CBD Oil.” Specifically, that it is meant to be taken “sublingually”. The letter notes that this is an issue because sublingual products are meant to enter the body through the skin or mucosal tissue, not through ingestion. Further, the letter addresses claims on several pages of the brand’s website.
Overall, those who view these letters will notice that the FTC references FDA guidelines. This suggest that not only are the companies required to comply with FDA regulations, but those of the FTC as well. Those who are interested in reading more about the overlap can do so here.
CBD is the fastest-growing, top-selling herbal ingredient in the health and wellness sector in 2019. It will be difficult in separating the bad actors and snake oil salesmen from the above-board CBD-centric companies, but these goalposts provided by the FTC are building blocks.
First-Class Herbalist CBD may still offer high-quality products and be a reputable company who has top-notch customer service, timely shipping and factual supplement fact labeling – but the main take away is to decipher fact from fiction and know claims from real benefits.
Whether it was the company, its ‘affiliates' or just lack of oversight; the guidance to help clean up their act and patchworking the language based on the FTC's framework will go along way moving forward for not only them, but the growing industry projected to be worth $22 billion by 2022.
For more information, Herbalist CBD has multiple phone numbers listed or can be found at firstclassherbalistcbd.com. The three phone numbers found for First Class Herbalist Oils CBD company team at (833)-242-6587, (888) 390-3964 or (833) 242-6587. The listed address found was 318 West 250 South Kaysville, UT 84037.
Please let us know in the comments below what you think about the FTC's CBD warning letters and if you have experience with any of the brands mentioned, including First Class Herbalist. As always, it is buyer beware season in an emerging ‘green-rush' CBD marketplace. This underlying storyline will continue to evolve as new brands enter the industry and start trying to stake their claim in CBD land until set-in-stone rules and regulations are in place.