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Cannabis, Marketing and Snake-Oil Claims

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Cannabis has long been a darling of alternative medicine, but with legalization, business has never been more profitable, and the claims never more outrageous and diverse. Let’s take the latest marketing buzz-word used to justify claims, “Broad-spectrum CBD”, and  dissect the marketing, the claims, and the science.

“CBD”, as any recreational drug enthusiast or resident in a region with legalized cannabis will tell you, refers to cannabidiol, one of the many chemical compounds found in marijuana. CBD is the famous non-psychoactive one, while THC will give you that high.

“Broad-spectrum” to the average person (especially the average Australian) sounds like a positive thing you see on a sun-screen label. To health professionals and farmers however, it has a slightly less positive connotation, as it means something is effective against a wide range of organisms, such as insects or bacteria. E.g. a broad-spectrum antibiotic. But shhh, they probably don’t want that advertised.

According to CBD School (an actual website, not a euphemism pot-heads are proud to have graduated from), full or broad-spectrum CBD is used to differentiate from between purified CBD, in which everything else contained in the plant matter is removed, including any traces of other cannabinoids such as THC, flavonoids, waxes, oils, chlorophyll and more.

One CBD producer, Foria has article on the subject uses some really sales-y language, talking about THC’s Entourage and CBD’s Entourage. Will they go into such colorful detail about the other cannabinoids, their associates? CBL’s retinue? CBV’s caravan?

I won’t discuss their snake-oil claims, because Information Is Beautiful has already done a fantastic job visually ranking popular claims by individual claim and strength of scientific research. They even have a handy “worth it line. Spoiler: only Chronic pain, epilepsy, insomnia and multiple sclerosis claims are scientifically backed.

What do you think?

Written by David Frank

David Frank is a Seattle-based marketer, writer (co-founder of Good/Bad Marketing) and public speaker. Originally from Perth, Western Australia, he has also lived in the UK, Japan and Vietnam. He has a Master of Science in Marketing degree from Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland.

He tours talks on marketing for the general public. His current talks are:
- Dangerous Products: The History and Present of Products NOT Safe to Consume
- Sensory Marketing and the Subtle Science of Packaging
- Sex, Love & Marketing: How To Market Yourself On Online Dating Sites​
- How to Market Tobacco (Despite Those Pesky Advertising Bans)
Learn more at http://www.thedavidfrank.com/talks.html

In his spare time, David is an avid gardener. https://instagram.com/seattlefoodgardener

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