In December 2020, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced proposed settlements with six CBD companies accused of making a broad range of unsubstantiated health claims, including that CBD can treat cancer, heart disease, hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease, bipolar disorder, and chronic pain, among others. Nicknamed “Operation CBDeceit,” the enforcement sweep was part of the FTC’s ongoing effort to protect consumers from false, deceptive, and misleading health claims made in advertisements on websites, through social media, and on other platforms. These settlements became final in early March 2021.
For those who have been monitoring regulatory enforcement relating to CBD claims, the types of claims listed in the FTC’s Complaints are familiar reading. Prior FTC and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) enforcement has focused on products that featured claims of treating chronic diseases and health conditions similar to the claims at issue in the “Operation CBDeceit” settlements. In that respect, these settlements do not differ from prior enforcement.
In other respects, though, these settlements are different from prior FTC enforcement on CBD claims. By including multiple companies and announcing all settlements at once, the CBDeceit announcement was coordinated to send an authoritative message to the CBD industry, broadly that the law requires companies