FDA Warns Companies Against Claims that Marijuana Cures Diseases

This is an interesting piece on Food and Drug Administration (FDA) efforts to gain some degree of control over false or questionable claims for the medical effectiveness of cannabis– in the treatment of cancer, for example.

The agency has delivered a warning to several makers of cannabis-based dietary supplements to cease and desist in advertising their products as a cure. We’re talking here about cannabidiol (CBD) products– oils, capsules, creams, even tea– not the THC-intensive sort. The issue isn’t about getting stoned. It’s about whether the product is actually benefiting the customer who purchased it. That’s especially relevant in view of the sometimes extraordinary claims made on its behalf.

This has been a common problem in the cannabis industry since its origins. With so few restrictions on marketing and so little solid research to consult, salespeople could claim pretty much whatever they felt would help them make a sale. Support for the claims came mainly via testimonials from patients and advocates. In the absence of more reliable evidence, that was usually enough. Along with pretty packaging, of course.

This wouldn’t be much of a concern if the claims were benign– reducing aches and pains, or creating a pleasing sense of relaxation. But when advertising materials promote CBD as a “cure” for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, medical professionals get nervous. They worry that such sensational claims could divert patients away from medications that have actually been shown to help– in favor of “natural” cannabis products that haven’t.

It’s happened before. Remember laetrile?

The FDA actually publishes a list. Take a look.

In the past, I’ve linked to articles on the subject from the Science-Based Medicine website. Their position, and mine, is that given the widespread popularity of marijuana, we should probably go ahead and legalize or at least decriminalize it. That would reduce the incentive to “medicalize” use through exaggerated claims of effectiveness.

The New Herbalism Part 2: Marijuana Does Not Cure Cancer

The New Herbalism Part 3: A “Cannabis Cures Cancer” Testimonial

On my last trip through Colorado, I listened to a radio interview with a cannabis distributor who saw health benefits more as a marketing tool than an essential part of his product’s appeal. It was a way of expanding his customer base to include the health-conscious– akin to adding organic fruits and veggies to a grocery store produce section. Meanwhile, science can proceed with legitimate research into the medical uses of cannabis.