Someone I don’t know sent me a copy of a print ad for a CBD product I hadn’t heard of. I have no idea why. Still, the ad was interesting.

It featured the smiling cast of a popular TV show, the one where aspiring entrepreneurs make passionate presentations to supposedly expert investors, who can get in on the ground floor, provided they think the deal is worth it. In this instance, the ad claimed that all five of the investors were completely convinced that this CBD product, rather than any of the others currently on the market, was destined to become The Next Big Thing.

In investment lingo, that translates to “hooray, we’re gonna be rich!”

I understand the product, “Shark Tank Gummies“, turned out to be a hoax. It figures. Still, plenty of real investors are out there hunting for that coming star in the commercial firmament, cannabis division.

I was fascinated by the way pot is being marketed primarily for health reasons. It harks back to the days when the tobacco industry first began to promote cigarette use, before science had fully identified that unfortunate link between tobacco smoke and serious lung disease. Back then, brands were promoted for their supposed health benefits — all of which turned out to be bogus. Nonetheless the industry fought bitterly to undermine a fast-accumulating body of evidence that their main product was indeed a health hazard of no mean proportions.

Why? I imagine it’s because they were making money and wanted to continue.

I don’t see CBD as ever becoming a health hazard on the scale of tobacco, but I’m skeptical of claims for its health benefits. I don’t doubt that users believe in cannabis as a remedy for what ails them, but the science behind that seems, well, sketchy.

To return to the past for a moment: the sheer energy and resources that the industry poured into promoting cigarette smoking really impressed me. I mean, they worked at it. Here’s a link to a website with access to a truly vast library of advertisements from that era.

Stanford Research Into the Impact of Tobacco Advertising

Reading over some of the ads, I have to wonder if smoking would ever have become the worldwide scourge it now is– according to CDC, the “leading preventable cause of disease, disability, and death in the US” and elsewhere — if not for the tremendous commitment and dedication of the folks in the marketing arms of Big Tobacco companies. They were relentless.

You could argue their efforts played a key role in making lung cancer, once an uncommon diagnosis, the leading cause of cancer-related death.

Again, the only motive that comes to mind is money. In fact, a marketing guru explained in a meeting that a product like cigarettes, one the customer would get hooked on, to the point where even the thought of quitting would make them anxious — would also be the best earner, with the most loyal customer base.

I see his point. Once a customer is addicted to a product, the choice to use isn’t really much of a choice at all. It’ll feel like necessity.

Which concerns me about the possibility of something similar involving a host of other drugs. Like ketamine and psilocybin. MDMA and high-THC cannabis. I’ve certainly run into people in treatment for severe problems related to use of all those substances. Now we want to increase their availability to the public?

Problems will almost certainly emerge, don’t you agree? Warning signs are already present.

I wonder if folks are paying attention.