Do CBD Endorsements Violate California Cannabis Advertising Laws?

Professional athlete endorsements are gold mines for any health and fitness product. Men’s Health magazine reported earlier this year on the unlikely crop of new cannabis advocates found in former and current pro athletes. Many, like former New England Patriots Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski, insist cannabis and CBD are superior options for treatment of chronic pain compared to the powerfully addictive and dangerous opiates doctors have been prescribing them for years. They report that with CBD, they are sleeping better, have improved muscle recovery, suffer fewer symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety and chronic traumatic encephalopathy – without the high or risk of addiction.cbd advertising lawyer

Some have gone on record to endorse their favorite brands of CBD oils and products, joining dozens of A-list celebrities who do the same.

This has resulted in Los Angeles cannabis advertising lawyers being asked whether these endorsements violate state or federal advertising laws.

Truth is, this is still a relatively new area of law, which is why each party should consult with an attorney before soliciting, offering or publishing a CBD advertisement or endorsement.

Do’s and Don’ts of California CBD Advertising 

The promotion of CBD products raises some complex issues.

Hemp-based CBD products were removed from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of scheduled substances with the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill. While the Farm Bill essentially legalized hemp-derived CBD oils with less than 0.3 percent THC content, it still requires that there be a regulatory framework in the state where it’s being sold – and not all states have caught up yet. Sales and marketing of CBD products has largely been overseen by a patchwork of state and local rules, and enforcement has been spotty.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reiterated numerous times that CBD cannot be added to food, dietary supplements or medications except for approved purposes – and as of right now, that’s only a few. Companies should be extremely wary about having athletes pitching the health benefits of CBD products that haven’t yet been approved by the FDA for that express purpose. (In fact, some have feared that efforts of cannabis companies to go mainstream could be hampered by CBD advertising claims that are untrue, unproven or misleading.)

Meanwhile, Facebook and Google have their own regulations about advertisement of any cannabis product.

A cannabis attorney can help advise you on the finer points. Advertising and marketing restrictions pertaining to cannabis products in California is outlined in state Business and Professional Code.

In general, athletes, celebrities, influencers and cannabis companies should:

  • Know the state’s regulations.
  • Make sure that the CBD product in question is hemp-derived, not marijuana-derived. (If it is marijuana-derived, meaning it contains more than 0.3 percent THC, there may be additional advertising rules they need to observe.)
  • Be certain there is evidence to support any health and/or medical claims about the product.
  • Avoid any advertising that shows consumption of the product.
  • Agree to exclusionary zones that will restrict advertising visible to minors (near schools, public playgrounds, places of worship, etc.).

Questions about specific advertising campaigns should be directed to an experienced marijuana advertising lawyer.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients, doctors and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 949-375-4734.

Additional Resources:

Ads Pitching CBD as a Cure-All Are Everywhere. Oversight Hasn’t Kept Up. Aug. 13, 2019, By Tiffany Hsu, The New York Times

Meet the Pro Athletes Advocating for CBD, March 29, 2019, By Stacey Leasca, Men’s Health Magazine

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