Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Feds Crack Down On CBD 'Cowboys' As Texas Farmers Harvest First Crop

a hemp store with a green cross sign in front
Gabriel C. Pérez
KUT News
A hemp store in Austin.

The Federal Trade Commission recently penalized some companies for aggressively false claims about the health benefits of CBD.

From Texas Standard:

CBD products have given many people the promise of a natural way of coping with stress and anxiety, especially during the pandemic. But recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission suggest that the health claims made by some CBD companies are dubious.

Last month, the FTC penalized several companies for false claims ranging from CBD easing chronic pain to even curing cancer, Alzheimer's or depression.

CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that comes from the cannabis plant.

Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Kristi Wolff is chair of the cannabis law practice for the firm Kelley Drye and Warren. She told Texas Standard that some CBD companies' aggressive claims are the result of a fast-growing industry in which claims are often made without scientific evidence. She likened some of these companies to "cowboys" operating in uncharted territories.

"The Wild West is a place where there are no rules. So you had a proliferation then of these kinds of aggressive false claims. And I think that is what drove FTC attention," Wolff said. "There simply was no support for the claims that were being made."

The penalties come as Texas hemp growers begin to harvest their first crops since the Texas Legislature legalized hemp production in 2019. But Wolff says these actions by the FTC shouldn't hurt growers because demand for CBD products – whether they're gummies, teas or supplements for anxiety, stress or more – is strong.

"I don't honestly see that happening because I think the consumer interest is so strong, and especially in the context that we're in, that people are going to look for something that they feel like is going to help them, even if it doesn't feature those claims," Wolff said.

She says it's now up to the companies to start providing evidence for their claims.

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on and Thanks for donating today.

Michael Marks
Caroline Covington is Texas Standard's digital producer/reporter. She joined the team full time after finishing her master's in journalism at the UT J-School. She specializes in mental health reporting, and has a growing interest in data visualization. Before Texas Standard, Caroline was a freelancer for public radio, digital news outlets and podcasts, and produced a podcast pilot for Audible. Prior to journalism, she wrote and edited for marketing teams in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. She has a bachelor's in biology from UC Santa Barbara and a master's in French Studies from NYU.
Related Content