FDA Hits Curaleaf With CBD Marketing Warning

Agency slams ‘unsubstantiated claims’ that products treat diseases

Shares of cannabis company Curaleaf Holdings Inc. tumbled more than 7% Tuesday and dragged the broader sector lower, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to the company for selling CBD-based products that claim to treat serious diseases.

Curaleaf  is “illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD) online with unsubstantiated claims that the products treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain and pet anxiety, among other conditions or diseases,” the FDA wrote.

CBD is a non-intoxicating ingredient in the cannabis plant that is widely held to have health benefits, although there has not been a lot of research to substantiate those claims. The FDA took over regulation of CBD when the 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp and immediately made it clear that it views CBD as a drug, because it is the main ingredient in the only FDA-approved cannabis-based drug, GW Pharmaceutical PLC’s Epidiolex, a treatment for severe childhood epilepsy.

The FDA has told companies that they cannot add CBD to food or beverages, although it appears willing to tolerate it in topical products—as long as companies don’t make serious health claims.

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