Curaleaf has recently come under fire from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for selling “unapproved” cannabidiol products and making “unsubstantiated claims” about their health benefits. The FDA have issued a letter informing the company that failure to correct the violations may result in legal action.
The existing research on the health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis, has so far yielded mixed results.
When it comes to using CBD as a treatment for cancer, there haven’t been enough clinical trials or studies in humans to prove that the extract has such a benefit, though some molecular experiments and studies in mice have suggested that the compound could inhibit tumor growth.
However, insufficient evidence of the therapeutic benefits of CBD hasn’t stopped some companies from marketing CBD products as “effective” in the treatment of cancer, chronic pain, and Alzheimer’s disease.
One such company is Curaleaf, which presents itself as a “leading […] medical and wellness cannabis operator in the United States.” The company sells a host of “medical-grade” cannabis products in various strains and concentrations.
The FDA have recently issued a letter, warning the company that they are illegally selling CBD products under the misleading claim that they can “prevent, diagnose, treat, or cure serious diseases.”
The FDA have published the letter in full on their website.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless comments on the necessity of the FDA warning.
He says, “Selling unapproved products with unsubstantiated therapeutic claims — such as claims that CBD products can treat serious diseases and conditions — can put patients and consumers at risk by leading them to put off important medical care.”
“Additionally, there are many unanswered questions about the science, safety, effectiveness, and quality of unapproved products containing CBD,” continues Dr. Sharpless.
According to the FDA, the therapeutic claims made by Curaleaf are that their CBD products “treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, opioid withdrawal, pain, and pet anxiety,” among other conditions.
The FDA warning letter includes some examples of such misleading claims:
- “CBD has been demonstrated to have properties that counteract the growth of [and/or] spread of cancer.”
- “CBD has been linked to the effective treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.”
- “CBD has also been shown to be effective in treating Parkinson’s disease.”
- “What are the benefits of CBD oil? […] Some of the most researched and well supported hemp oil uses include […] anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, and even schizophrenia, […] chronic pain from fibromyalgia, slipped spinal disks, […] eating disorders, and addiction.”
The acting FDA commissioner warns that companies such as Curaleaf “deceive consumers and put them at risk by illegally selling products marketed for therapeutic uses for which they are not approved.”
“Consumers should beware of purchasing or using any such products.”
Dr. Ned Sharpless
As a result of such misleading claims, caution the agency, consumers may fail to get proper medical care and diagnoses. The FDA urge people to seek professional healthcare and advice to best treat serious illness.
The agency further warn that if Curaleaf fail to respond to their letter within 15 working days, clearly saying how they plan to correct these violations, the FDA may pursue legal action, such as seizing Curaleaf products and placing an injunction on the company.