Charlotte’s Web Hemp Oil Products

November 6th, 2017

As more states move to legalize medical marijuana — at 29, there are now more states that have than haven’t — some companies are taking the proliferation of state-sanctioned pot for medicinal purposes as a cue to market their own marijuana-based products to treat or cure a number of serious diseases, including cancer.

These companies include Charlotte’s Web, which claimed both directly and through the use of testimonials that its cannabidiol or CBD-infused hemp oils help patients suffering from cancer, depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, epilepsy, autism, and diabetes among other conditions. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, CBD is the compound in marijuana that does not make people high. Among the testimonials that Charlotte’s Web published on product pages on its website was one for its Everyday Advanced Hemp Oil (which sells for $150 for a 30 ml bottle). It read, “My dear ex mother in law has been diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer. This is the only thing that gives her relief.”

Yet the FDA has not approved any product containing or derived from botanical marijuana for the treatment of any health condition. That puts the company’s health claims square in the category of unapproved drug treatment claims, as the FDA recently informed the Colorado-based firm in a warning letter dated Oct. 31. According to the agency’s letter, the company also made illegal disease-treatment claims on its Facebook and Twitter accounts.

“Substances that contain components of marijuana will be treated like any other products that make unproven claims to shrink cancer tumors,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. “We don’t let companies market products that deliberately prey on sick people with baseless claims that their substance can shrink or cure cancer and we’re not going to look the other way on enforcing these principles when it comes to marijuana-containing products.”

At the same time, the FDA is cognizant of early research on the potential promise medical marijuana holds out for sufferers of serious conditions such as epilepsy, anxiety and schizophrenia. And while the agency has yet to green-light a plant-based marijuana product, it has approved medications containing synthetic THC for the treatment of anorexia associated with weight loss in AIDS patients and for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting.

“We recognize that there’s interest in developing therapies from marijuana and its components, but the safest way for this to occur is through the drug approval process — not through unsubstantiated claims made on a website,” Gottlieb said.

As of Nov. 6, the pancreatic cancer testimonial for the Charlotte’s Web hemp oil had been removed, along with all the other testimonials or “reviews” that had been published on the product’s page. Another change? The addition of this note regarding Charlotte’s Web newfound legal responsibility:

Thank you for sharing your experience with others. Please note: were (sic) legally unable to approve any review with the mention of a condition or disease. Please make your review as general as possible.

Charlotte’s Web wasn’t the only online purveyor of miracle marijuana-based products that received a warning letter from the FDA. Read about the others here: Green Roads Health, That’s Natural, Natural Alchemist.

Find more of our coverage on marijuana here.

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Only drugs can be marketed as having the ability to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent or mitigate a disease, and the only way for a product to gain legit drug status is by getting FDA approval, which means any product that doesn’t get FDA approval can’t say it has the ability to diagnose, cure, treat, prevent or mitigate a disease.

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