What happened:

ASA has recently published two rulings, see here and here, that provide reminders on advertising cannabidiol (CBD) products. Both rulings involved the ASA receiving complaints from the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance in relation to Vibes CBD and Blessed CBD who were advertising their CBD products on various online news outlets.

The advertisements made a number of claims in relation to the CBD products, including: listing both companies’ CBD products as the “best CBD oil in the UK“; under the heading “Stress Relief” stating “its power to counter anxiety and stress […] many people use CBD to calm their nerves […]”; and an advert featuring the heading “CBD Oil: Blessed CBD – Buy UK CBD Oil for sale (2022) and the subheading “Food supplements are in high demands, as consumers […] take advantage of the health benefits set forth by herbs, plants, and more”.

ASA upheld both complaints and the rulings provide us with points that businesses must remember when advertising CBD products.

  • Medicinal or medical claims must not be made on products which are not licensed medicinal products/medical devices that have been authorised by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.
  • Claims must not be made that state or imply that a CBD food supplement can prevent, treat or cure human disease, such as claiming it could prevent chronic pain, as was the case in this ruling.
  • Only those health claims authorised on the Great Britain nutrition and health claims register could be made in ads promoting foods or food supplements.
  • All marketing materials should be labelled that they form part of an advertisement; for example, by the heading “advertisement feature” and make clear the advertiser’s commercial intent.

Why this matters:

These rulings give timely reminders regarding advertising CBD products. Firstly, although maybe lawful to advertise CBD, what can be said is extremely restrictive – in particular it is very difficult to make any claims about the benefits of CBD.

Secondly, there have been numerous warnings by regulators that enforcement is likely to commence in relation to CBD products which are either not lawful to sell or are unlawfully and therefore high level of compliance in this area is recommended as the enforcement risk is real.