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CBD Companies Are Making False Claims About Coronavirus

CBD marketing was tough enough, and then this?

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Before the coronavirus crisis, it was hard enough to market CBD products. The public's understanding of CBD ranges from devout evangelists to cynical anti-CBD curmudgeons. And there's still a huge swath of Americans who have simply never heard of CBD. I recently had an editor of a major news organization ask me, "What is CBD?" It took me a second to realize he wasn't joking.


Now to add to the confusion, we have some CBD companies making false claims that their product could prevent or cure the coronavirus. 

Related: A Top Cannabis Doctor Answers Your Coronavirus Questions

CBD lies

As a CBD brand co-founder, I have become very aware of FDA warning letters and the power they wield, especially after the FDA sent 15 warning letters to CBD companies last November. Since then, I check FDA warning letters every week to see if they have sent letters to more CBD companies. A few weeks ago, there was a new kind of warning letter to companies making false claims about CBD and the coronavirus. Among them was a CBD website selling something called a "Coronavirus Protocol." 

But the CBD marketing shenanigans don't end there. Recently, we received an email from a white-label CBD supplier offering to sell us CBD hand sanitizer with this bold headline: “FIGHT COVID-19 (CORONA) VIRUS WITH POTENT ANTI-BACTERIAL CANNABINOID-INFUSED HAND SANITIZER.”

That headline is misleading in two ways: 

  1. The statement "FIGHT COVID-19" is not a medical claim. It doesn't say "PREVENT COVID-19," but it carries the same connotation. 
  2. There's a false connection between "fight this virus" and "this anti-bacterial product."

Doing the right thing

As CBD entrepreneurs, we have always known that educating the public about CBD is part of our job, and we knew we needed a medical professional to help us communicate CBD's effectiveness to a skeptical public. And so, we started to look for a "Dr. Cornbread," who could speak with authority on medical issues and who was as passionate about CBD as we are. That's how we connected with Dr. Leslie Mudd, DPharm. 

In retrospect, our timing was amazing when we announced at the beginning of March that Cornbread Hemp had added Dr. Mudd to our board of advisors. She is a board-certified oncology pharmacist with more than two decades of experience at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville Hospital, where she worked with the bone marrow transplant team. In short, she's a brilliant and accomplished pharmacist with experience in drug formulation and teaching medical students. 

That's why we wanted Dr. Mudd on Team Cornbread -- to oversee the formulation of our USDA certified organic CBD oils and to help us navigate coming FDA regulations. And then, all of a sudden, COVID-19 hit us all like a brick. 

In a recent blog post called "Coronavirus and CBD: What You Need To Know", Dr. Mudd criticized laid out some facts and fictions. The key takeaway was this: "no studies exist that look at CBD as an antiviral in humans." Therefore, any CBD brand that claims that CBD prevents or cures Coronavirus is not just making a false claim that could result in an FDA warning letter, they could also be putting vulnerable lives at risk. As Dr. Mudd points out in her blog post: "a virus is not bacteria." And while hand sanitizer is very effective at killing bacteria, its effectiveness at killing viruses is not as good. It is certainly no substitute for washing your hands with soap and water. 

Related: 5 Inspiring Ways Cannabis Companies Are Helping During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Generally speaking, the worst damage CBD hand sanitizer can do is hurt your wallet, according to Dr. Mudd. But these sorts of unethical CBD marketing tactics just makes the job of CBD brands like Cornbread Hemp all that more difficult. 

The CBD industry has been dealt a number of setbacks over the past 12 months: the ridiculously strict USDA hemp farming guidelines, a total lack of FDA regulations, ad bans across every social media platform, and now a coronavirus that could upend the entire global economy just when CBD was gaining a foothold. 

The last thing we need is unethical CBD companies trying to insert themselves where they don't belong, only to damage public health and the fragile reputation of the CBD industry along with it. But if you're looking for USDA certified organic CBD oils from Kentucky, we can help with that at Cornbread Hemp