Common CBD Scams (And How To Avoid Them)

The CBD industry is expanding at a rapid clip. A recent report by Research and Markets estimates that the CBD market in the U.S. will reach $13.39 billion by 2024. That’s great news for hardworking entrepreneurs looking to get into the business. Unfortunately, it’s also great news for con artists looking to take advantage of lax regulations and marketing hype.

While CBD is a perfectly legitimate product with established health benefits, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to design a strict regulatory framework for the industry. This, combined with some widespread misconceptions about CBD and its effects, opens the door to all manner of fraud.

At the moment, shopping for CBD products—especially online—is a bit like stepping through a minefield. In view of that, we’ve put together a list of three common CBD scams to watch out for.

The “free trial” scam

This type of CBD scam is cropping up more and more these days. Here’s how it works. The fraudster places an ad online purporting to be from a CBD company (some are real companies, others aren’t). The ad offers consumers a free sample of one of the company’s products. Sometimes, the product appears to have been endorsed by a celebrity or an athlete.

In order to receive your free sample, you have to pay a small shipping and handling fee. This requires you to input your credit card information. Once you’ve done this, the company uses your credit card to automatically sign you up for an expensive and unwanted monthly subscription.

Getting out of these subscriptions is extremely difficult, if not impossible. There’s a chance you’ll have to cancel your credit card to stop the charges.

To avoid falling prey to this type of CBD fraud, thoroughly research the company before making any purchases. If they’re running a scam, previous victims are likely to have written about it online.

Pay close attention to customer reviews; for instance, reviews of can be found on various websites, including Google. If you can’t find any reviews of a company, stay away.

Also, be sure to carefully read the terms and conditions of the free trial offer. Oftentimes, the fine print will include information the company doesn’t want you to know.

Unsupported medical claims

CBD is the subject of lots of scientific research. While more is needed to understand the full extent of its benefits, the available literature suggests that it can help treat a range of medical problems, including:

Seizure disorders

With that said, CBD companies are not allowed to market their products as dietary supplements. Brands that flout this restriction run the risk of being targeted with legal action by the FDA—sometimes publicly.

Moreover, if companies want to claim that a product treats one or more medical conditions, they have to submit relevant scientific data to the FDA for approval.

A recent paper in Missouri Medicine provides a laundry list of unsupported medical claims that have been made by CBD companies. They include assertions that CBD can treat diabetes, colitis, traumatic brain injury, alcoholism, Lyme disease, lupus, Parkinson’s disease, autism, stroke, and chemotherapy-induced hearing loss.

To avoid this scam, be skeptical of any medical claims made by companies about their products. If you want to try CBD for a specific purpose, check with a reliable, objective medical resource to find out whether CBD is likely to help.

Fake products

There are a lot of good, effective CBD products on the market. There are also a lot of bad ones. And by bad, we mean they contain very little CBD, or none at all. Unfortunately, Amazon and other e-commerce sites are awash with such products.

Many of them are nothing more than hemp seed oil. As the name suggests, this is oil extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. CBD is made from the components of harvested hemp plants—leaves, stalks and flowers—not hemp seeds. Hemp oil is not the same as CBD oil. A lot of brands try to mislead customers into thinking there’s no difference.

Sometimes, side-stepping this scam is as simple as carefully reading the list of ingredients and noticing that CBD isn’t among them. But oftentimes it’s trickier than that. Companies have been known to exaggerate CBD levels.

In 2017, the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed 84 CBD products from 31 different companies. As regards CBD content, less than 31% were accurately labeled. The authors found that vape liquid products were more frequently mislabeled than oil products.

That’s why all of the top CBD companies now offer detailed testing information from independent laboratories.

Buying CBD doesn’t have to be a headache, but it can be if you’re not cautious. No one wants to be ripped off. To ensure you’re getting your money’s worth, do your homework, shop smart, and keep the foregoing scams in mind.

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