The FDA took enforcement action against a marijuana company for making unsubstantiated claims, including that their products had the power to cure and prevent the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former senior drug policy advisor to the Obama Administration, released the following statement praising the FDA’s action and urging further action against other marijuana industry actors making unsubstantiated health claims:
“This action from the FDA is much needed. For weeks, this celebrity, Kyle Turley, has used his large platform to peddle extremely harmful misinformation, using the ongoing pandemic as a publicity stunt for his brand. In addition to this warning, we would urge social media platforms to suspend any accounts spreading Mr. Turley’s claims and any other similar claims. As it stands, research suggests that marijuana use in the middle of this outbreak should be strongly discouraged.
“We also urge the marijuana industry to stop taking of this crisis by lobbying state governors to deem marijuana stores ‘essential.’ Keeping marijuana stores open puts employees and the general public in harm’s way.
“While this FDA action is most welcome, it only scratches the surface when it comes to the marijuana industry making wildly unsubstantiated health claims. We can agree there are a handful of derivatives from the marijuana plant that hold medicinal value for specific disorders, but we have a process in this country for delivering safe, effective medicines to those who would benefit from it. Furthermore, just this week a study found that the vast majority of marijuana sold in “medical” marijuana dispensaries feature THC levels far beyond what some research suggests is useful in helping with pain levels.
“By legitimizing the marijuana industry, select state governments have allowed this industry to run fast and loose with health claims. At one point, many of these same governments openly welcomed Big Tobacco. We must learn from the past and do everything in our power to curb Big Marijuana’s outsized influence.”