November 6th, 2017
These companies include That’s Natural, which claimed both directly and through the use of testimonials that its cannabidiol or CBD-infused hemp oils and lotions help patients suffering from cancer, diabetes, autism, and Alzheimer’s among other conditions. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, CBD is the compound in marijuana that does not make people high. On its website That’s Natural said “CBD makes cancer cells commit ‘suicide’ without killing other cells.”
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.
In response to the FDA’s warning letter, That’s Natural said in a statement posted on its website that it took down customer testimonials and deleted its Facebook and Twitter accounts, among other things aimed at compliance. But That’s Natural wasn’t the only online purveyor of miracle marijuana-based products that received a warning letter from the FDA. Read about the others here: Charlotte’s Web, Green Roads Health, Natural Alchemist.
Find more of our coverage on marijuana here.
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.