Legal Q&A: Advertising CBD oil (May 2019)

Q: Can I publish advertising for CBD oil?

SCPA Attorney Jay Bender
By SCPA Attorney Jay Bender

A: The newest “health” fad in the United States is the use of CBD oil from hemp to treat a variety of conditions.  Retailers want to advertise the product, and careful publishers and ad managers are asking if it is legal to publish advertising for CBD oil in South Carolina.

The short answer is yes.

The longer answer is that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that advertising for lawful products may be published without restriction where the advertising is neither false nor misleading.  CBD oil may be sold lawfully in South Carolina, so advertising for the product may be published.

A word of caution if your paper creates the ad for the retailer:  the publication of false or misleading claims may result in liability for the paper creating the ad.  If you are creating the ad, and the retailer wants to make health claims, ask for supporting documentation regarding the claims before including the claims in an ad created by the paper.

If the retailer provides the ad, I see little legal exposure for the contents, but would suggest a prudent publisher or ad manager would want to keep false or misleading claims out of the paper to maintain the credibility of the paper.

Finally, a claim that is too good to be true probably isn’t, but we can’t count on consumers to be that discerning.  After all, Carter’s Little Liver Pills advertised heavily in days gone by had nothing to do with liver, and probably didn’t cure anything.

Jay Bender is a retired University of South Carolina professor and media lawyer who represents the S.C. Press Association and its newspapers.

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