Currently, Facebook doesn’t allow any advertising of CBD products, even if they’re legally allowed to be sold.
What does this mean, exactly, for CBD companies, and are the rules likely to change any time soon?
Here, experts in the field of digital marketing for CBD products weigh in on the issue.
What are the current laws around what you can and can’t advertise on Facebook when it comes to CBD products?
Kristina Spionjak, marketing director, London Canna Group, says: “According to Facebook’s Ads Policies on Drugs & Drug-Related Products, ‘Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs’. While most people might think that CBD is not a drug, Facebook treats the product as one.
“Therefore, Facebook does not allow its advertisers to directly feature CBD in an ad, just as the platform does not allow advertisers to promote alcohol sales. However, advertisers are allowed to run ads for topical hemp across Facebook.”
Brett Konen, marketing manager at PrograMetrix, says: “In our experience, CBD ads currently get rejected as illegal products and services, but that may vary given that rejections are generally decided by bots crawling the ad creative and associated landing pages.”
Why does Facebook does not permit any form of advertising or ‘promoted posts’ from the legal cannabis industry, despite the fact that CBD is legal?
Gilbert Corrales, CEO at Leafgrow, says: “It’s a combination of things. The taboo around it and connotation for recreational uses of it, even in the US were recreational use is permitted you’re still not allowed to advertise, and you could argue there’s no robust scientific evidence behind it. I think it’s just easier for Facebook to have a blanket ban.”
Does this mean companies who offer CBD products also can’t advertise non-CBD-related products?
Spionjak says: “Advertisers can run ads that direct to landing pages that feature ingestible hemp and topical CBD. But the ads cannot specifically feature those products. Facebook is still prohibiting ads for ingestible CBD, including ads that direct to landing pages with those products.”
According to Louise Winwright, CDO at The C* Word: “You have to ensure that landing pages are kept free of restricted products, and that the website is not primarily selling CBD.
So, a company called We Sell CBD probably wouldn’t be able to advertise. A company called ‘We Sell Botanical Skincare’ who has one CBD product on their site and only advertises other products on Facebook, probably would.
Konen says: “Companies who offer CBD products should be able to advertise non-CBD-related products on Facebook, but since Facebook’s bots crawl the landing page associated with the ad creative, the ads may be rejected if the bots find evidence of ingestible CBD on the website associated with the campaign.”
Are there any ways companies can get around the guidelines and advertise their CBD products?
Corrales says: “We’re working with a client right now with an idea to get people to buy a product that isn’t CBD, and use the post-purchase experience to introduce people to the CBD side of things by setting up new shop selling products aligned to CBD, then introduce the CBD side of things afterwards.
Konen adds: “While it should be noted that there is currently no method that guarantees CBD ad acceptance, we recommend that our clients build a gated landing page to go with their ad campaign, omitting any mention of CBD and replacing it with wording like “natural plant-based remedies.
“When the ad creative and targeting for the campaign is done correctly, your audience will likely already know what you’re talking about when they reach that gated landing page.
“If the gated page is approved for the ad campaign, you can go back in after a few days have elapsed and add a link through to your main website. Note that there’s still no guarantee the ad won’t be rejected later, regardless of initial approval.”
Spionjak says: “Social advertising may be limited for hemp and CBD companies. However, there are other online marketing channels that can be just as effective if not more, with a better return on investment.
“We would recommend CBD and hemp companies to invest in professional website, complete business listings, review management, text message and email marketing, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, native advertising, SEO and digital PR.
“A combination of these marketing techniques can help businesses gain customers who are searching for these products.”
Do you think Facebook’s regulations will change any time in the future?
“The pressure for Facebook and other platforms to change their advertising policies is increasing,” says Spionjak.
“I believe they will change their regulations when governments agree on how to regulate the market.”
Konen says: “I believe that Facebook will open its doors to CBD advertising the moment that US and UK laws make its legality clear, whether that means specifically legalizing CBD ads or legalizing cannabis as a whole. Facebook is not generally a platform to turn its nose up at new streams of ad revenue.”
Winwright says: “It’s highly unlikely, but never say never!”
BRITISH CANNABIS and how Novel Foods deadlines in 2021 will not spell the end of great cannabis-based products
Moving with the times, making innovative CBD products and award-winning, cannabis-derived ingredients is what BRITISH CANNABIS has consistently done for nearly 6 years now. 2021 will be no exception.
In a UK market navigating a ‘Race to The Starting Line’ – the 31st March 2021 Food Standards Agency Novel-Food exemption deadline for CBD food supplements, only suppliers with approved applications will be allowed to produce and manufacture cannabis-derived ingredients on a regular, legal and compliant basis.
Should having CBD be the only permitted cannabinoid in food supplements be considered bad news? Not necessarily. At last, well-made CBD products have a path to achieving mainstream acceptance, aiding the UK’s economy and, most importantly – helping people.
BRITISH CANNABIS will be able to continue to bring compliant, trust-worthy, efficacious CBD products to market in 2021 and beyond…and here is how:
BRITISH CANNABIS offers a unique model for manufacturing, white label and retail customers, that will give better business continuity and allow us to innovate products even better than before.
Working as an authoritative hub of Novel Food-compliant CBD ingredient, we will not be tied to one farm or biomass source.
BRITISH CANNABIS is a one-stop cannabis ingredient hub, an expert in harnessing all the best non-cannabinoid components of Cannabis sativa L. in our whole-plant, natural, cannabinoid-free extracts from our licensed EU farms. We have mastered blending these extracts with CBD to bring all the goodness and the integrity of a broad-spectrum cannabis extract, without breaching legislation.
Our CBD ingredients will be selected from the best partner suppliers for the project at-hand and selected in particular to stay within local laws, wherever our international customers need to launch products.
Although it is almost inevitable that the industry will only be allowed CBD isolate to be used in products from 2021, our products will not be forced into being one-dimensional. To use an analogy from another supplement category, BRITISH CANNABIS offers the equivalent of a multi-vitamin range moving forward, in a market full of Vitamin C-only products.
There’s more to cannabis than cannabinoids
We offer precision-engineered extracts in tiers from Standard to Super-Premium, each with more ‘dialled-up’ natural cannabis phytochemicals than the last. Super-size your cannabis phytochemical goodness for premium products, or take a low-cost, effective base for economy-priced products. Every project can be unique – yet compliant to sell. These natural, compliant, whole-plant cannabis extracts are available in a range of CBD strengths, or as a cannabinoid-free ingredient, to allow food and beverage manufacturers to put cannabis goodness in their products, free from the regulation and legislation surrounding CBD and other cannabinoids.
It’s not just us recognising the value of retaining as many cannabis compounds in extracts as possible. Experts agree that the cannabis plant has so much more to offer than CBD.
For example, Professor Mike Barnes, of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society, says: “The cannabis plant has over 100 terpenes and flavonoids in addition to cannabinoids. All of these phytochemicals tested so far have some medicinal properties.
“There is much to learn but there is no doubt that the plant offers real hope of many different health applications in the years to come.”
How BRITISH CANNABIS ensure Novel Foods compliance:
- Our CBD ingredients will always be supported by Novel Foods exemption applications;
- All of our other cannabis extracts fall outside the scope of Novel Foods;
- We have perfected methods which are traditional, solvent free, non-selective and 100% natural for these other extractions.
Minimising Risk for our Manufacturing, White Label and Retail Customers
- The biggest concern for any CBD company post March 2021 is not just making sure that their supply chain is linked to an application validated by the FSA, but also the risk of losing it.
- At any stage from having an application validated (which cannot happen until 1st January 2021 at the earliest), until the actual Novel Food status for an ingredient is granted by the FSA (for which no firm timeline can be expected) any manufacturer’s application could get rejected at any stage.
- This would then immediately make those ingredients and subsequent finished products illegal to sell and they would likely be required to be removed from the market without notice.
- This creates a lot of uncertainty for any company for years to come. Any day might be the day they have to remove their products from sale.
- Should any active ingredient manufacturer’s authorisation fail at any stage of the approval process – now or in the future – we will have multiple sources of supply and simply change the active CBD to another supplier – which means no risk for our business and no disruption to your supply chain.
BRITISH CANNABIS has been working to assure the compliancy of our retail brands with upcoming reformulations in early 2021. All of our products reformulated in this way will be supported and linked to a validated Novel Foods application to protect our customers and also continue to have all of the stringent testing and documentation on product accuracy, purity and safety that we have become to be known for.
Our cosmetic products, including the award-winning Canabidol CBD RESCUE CREAM will continue for sale as normal and will not fall under the scope of Novel Foods regulations.
The value of BRITISH CANNABIS comes from what we are able to do with legal industrial cannabis as an ingredient. Harnessing ‘the best of the rest’ of the cannabis plant, outside of illegal cannabinoids, means that we will bring customers more health and wellbeing-enhancing cannabis goodness than products limited to CBD alone.
Using our years of expertise and knowledge to reformulate cannabis extracts and deliver them as close to how Mother Nature intended as possible, whilst still remaining legal and compliant.
Get in touch with us today to find our more, on 0203 965 2420, or visit britishcannabis.org.
How CBD could help you quit smoking
With some research suggesting it helps reduce nicotine cravings, is CBD the key to kicking the habit for good?
Smoking kills – more than eight million people a year to be precise, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In the UK alone, the NHS estimates around 78,000 people die from preventable deaths caused by smoking, with many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses.
If there was ever any doubt, the outbreak of Covid-19 – a respiratory virus which causes breathlessness and a persistent cough as two of its most common symptoms (just in case you’ve been living under a rock this year) – has exposed the risks smokers are leaving themselves open to.
An analysis by the WHO earlier this year found smokers are more likely to develop severe disease from COVID-19 than non-smokers, while Public Health England has suggested smoking is a significant predictor of disease severity, with smokers 14 times more likely to develop severe respiratory disease.
But as anyone who has tried to kick the habit will know, it’s easier said than done.
Can CBD help?
Findings published earlier this year by The Cannabis Radar, suggested, not for the first time, that CBD could be the solution.
The results, from a 700-person survey in the US showed that almost half of participants were able to abstain from cigarettes by using cannabidiol.
Participants were asked to inhale or consume CBD whenever they felt the urge to smoke, with 42 percent reporting that they were able to abstain from cigarettes for a month.
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence, the scientific research into CBD’s effect on tobacco addiction is limited – but still promising.
A 2013 report explored the effects of replacing cigarettes with CBD in a week-long study. The results revealed that those participants given a CBD inhaler to use every time they felt the need to smoke, reduced their number of cigarettes by 40 percent.
As Matt Picken, of 7CBD explained, most smokers are addicted to the chemical nicotine. This triggers the release of the feel-good hormone dopamine in the brain and is to blame for cigarettes being so addictive.
It is thought that CBD can actually reduce nicotine cravings by rebalancing the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
Consuming CBD kickstarts the ECS and produces endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-AG, says Matt, which naturally increase dopamine levels and reduce the cravings of dopamine spikes caused by nicotine.
What do the experts say?
“In very simplistic terms, CBD works by helping to bring the body back into balance,” said Ruby Deevoy, a CBD and cannabis journalist who has covered its effect on smoking extensively.
“Addiction, of any sort, throws your body out of balance in lots of different ways – emotionally, physically and mentally. The hope is that CBD can help with that.”
CBD is also thought to regulate cortisol release, the hormone produced by the body in response to stress, and could be helpful in reducing ‘stress-induced relapses’ which lead smokers to reach for the cigarettes, according to Ruby.
“The CBD molecule directly activates serotonin, opioid and dopamine receptors all of which play an important role in altered neuronal function and behaviour which goes hand in hand with addiction,” she continued.
“Numerous studies have shown that CBD holds great potential when it comes to quitting addictive substances, with research into cigarettes, alcoholism and other drugs yielding positive results. There’s still a long way to go in understanding why this is, so there are no official answers yet, but there are some good theories that are being investigated further.”
Dean Billington, chief scientific officer at BRAINS bioceuticals, one of the few companies in the world producing CBD as an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API), also told Cannabis Health there are several indications that CBD could be effective in smoking, alcohol and even opioid cessation.
“It’s all at the very early stages but there are some interesting results coming out of some of the studies that are being conducted,” he said.
“What we know is that CBD reduces your levels of anxiety and stress, and therefore, perhaps reduces the need to subsequently take a cigarette.
“There is also some evidence that CBD can be used in alcohol cessation and as a mechanism to wean people off opiates, in areas where it is of particular interest, such as in the US where opiate addiction is a huge challenge.”
One of the significant benefits of using CBD to manage addiction, is that it is non-addictive itself, with no evidence that it causes any side effects, continued Dean.
“There’s no evidence to show that CBD taken in any level of concentration is addictive, or indeed that it has any side effects, or that anybody has ever overdosed on CBD,” he added.
“When you reach a plateau, as you continue to increase the concentration of CBD, it actually starts to take less effect.”
A safer alternative?
For those still tackling cravings, CBD brand V&YOU has recently brought out its own range of Nicotine Pouches to offer smokers and vapers a safer way to get a hit, while they try to curb the habit.
The pouches, which are billed as a less harmful alternative to smoking, consist of a small cellulose bag filled with cotton fibre, flavour and nicotine, which can be placed between the lip and your gum for up to 30 minutes.
V&YOU founders believe they could play a significant role in helping people quit, in the same way that snus has – a moist, powder, smokeless tobacco product which originated in Sweden.
Co-founder & CEO Titus Wouda Kuipers said: “V&YOU Nicotine Pouches are aimed at people who already use nicotine in vapes or cigarettes and are generally seen as a less harmful alternative to smoking. This is the biggest driver for smokers looking to quit smoking, all of whom will know the health risks associated with the habit.”
According to Karl Erik Lund, PH.D, research director of the Norwegian Institute for Alcohol and Drug Research, snus has become the most popular smoking cessation method among smokers in Norway.
Titus added: “In the same way as snus – which is estimated to be more than 95 percent less harmful than smoking – nicotine pouches could play a key role in helping smokers to quit the habit.”
Epileptic sisters fight for medical cannabis equality
Siblings Chelsea and Tamsin Leyland both have epilepsy, but only one of them has access to life-changing medical cannabis. DJ and activist Chelsea, tells Sarah Sinclair about the fight to save her sister.
Chelsea Leyland had always been the ‘healthy’ sibling.
Growing up she saw her elder sister Tamsin rushed in and out of intensive care, having been diagnosed with intractable epilepsy as a baby.
The condition had already been a part of Chelsea’s life for as long as she could remember, when she started displaying symptoms herself aged 14.
“At the time no one knew them to be symptoms,” says Chelsea over Zoom, from her home in New York.
“I noticed when I was in the car and the light would come through the trees and flicker on my eyelids that I would get a strange sensation in my head, and I started to have what I now know are myoclonic jerks in the morning.
“They would happen more frequently when I was tired and on school days where I was feeling a little bit more stressed.”
The symptoms worsened and at the age of 15, Chelsea was diagnosed with juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (JPE). She and Tamsin both carry a mutation in the CPA6 gene, often identified in certain forms of epilepsy.
“I was always the cognitively healthy sibling, so it was a real shock for me and my family, because we had been on this emotional roller coaster with my sister,” she says.
“To go through life believing there is nothing wrong with you, to then find out that you have this horrific condition that you’ve seen your sibling suffer with was very challenging.”
She was put on a number of anticonvulsant drugs, but although they did improve her condition the side effects were debilitating. Throughout her late teens and 20s, she experienced insomnia, extreme depression, anxiety and hyperactivity. She describes it as living in ‘fight or flight mode’.
“My nervous system was a complete mess,” Chelsea says.
But on the outside, she was carving a successful career as a DJ and model. She had moved to New York and was becoming well-known in the fashion crowd, with friends in high places and a huge following on social media.
Chelsea was at the Glamour Awards, listening to women give empowering speeches about their philanthropic work, when realised she wanted to use her platform for something positive.
There was never any doubt about what that would be.
“I had been working in what felt like quite a superficial world for some time,” she says.
“I remember hearing all of these incredible female speakers who were committing their life to being of service. I went home that night and thought I have to use my platform for something good and what else to feel drawn to, but epilepsy?”
She continues: “There’s a stigma about epilepsy and the way I was brought up was to keep it ‘hush hush’.
“I was in the fashion world and there were ways I could bring a different colour to the conversation, so it wasn’t just doom and gloom, which was how it felt when I was growing up.”
And so she turned her Instagram account – which now has more than 61K followers – into a platform for her activism.
“I didn’t have a million followers, but I did have a platform and a voice, and that could be powerful,” she adds.
Chelsea discovered cannabinoids around four years ago (medical cannabis was legalised in New York in 2016), through Sanjay Gupta’s famous CNN film about Charlotte Figi and how CBD was treating her intractable epilepsy.
“It was mind-blowing to watch,” she says.
“I had seen my sister having daily seizures for so long that it was hard to comprehend that a little bit of plant oil could be an efficacious form of treatment.”
But when she tried CBD through a friend and cannabis activist, she noticed its effects instantly. After six months of using cannabis, against her doctor’s and family’s wishes, she weaned herself off all of her pharmaceutical drugs.
She uses a full spectrum cannabis oil, containing one to one ratio of THC and CBD, and now has been seizure free for three and a half years. She has even reached the point where she is able to take the occasional day off from medication completely.
“To say cannabis has kind of transformed my life is an understatement,” says Chelsea.
“It was already such an incredible gift that I was able to wean off pharmaceuticals, but now to get to a point where my body is in such balance that I’m able to miss a day is quite remarkable.
“It’s quite painful to imagine what life would be like without it. I still struggle everyday living with this condition, even though I’m not having seizures, there are so many other elements of epilepsy that one has to battle with daily.”
She adds: “I felt like I couldn’t cope when I was on the medication, but cannabis allows me to feel like everything is going to be okay in those moments.
“It doesn’t just treat my seizures, it also helps my sleep, stress, digestion, anxiety, it’s a very dynamic medicine. My life would not be in such a good place without it.”
This is a truth that, sadly, Chelsea and her family know too well.
Her sister Tamsin, now 37 and living in an NHS facility for people with severe epilepsy in the UK, does not have access to this life-changing medication, despite it being legalised in 2018.
Clinicians believe there is a good chance that medical cannabis would improve Tamsin’s quality of life, as she and Chelsea share the same genetic mutation. But until doctors are able to prescribe it on the NHS, she will never know.
“It’s hard to articulate how unbelievably frustrating it is,” says Chelsea.
“It’s absurd that we are in this position where vulnerable patients like my sister – who we are struggling to keep alive – can’t access a plant extract, which could potentially be a life-saving form of treatment, due to her geographical postcode.
“Tamsin has severe brain damage from having seizures since she was a baby, we’re not looking for a miracle as a family. We’re just looking for some relief, and potentially a better quality of life.”
Chelsea’s activism has naturally transitioned into medical cannabis advocacy. For the last two years she has been working on the documentary, Sisters Interrupted, which began life as an exploration of the medical cannabis space but ended up an intimate tale about two sisters and what it looks like when one is prevented from having the medicine she needs.
“Even though Tamsin is five years older than me, there was a time where I mentally outgrew her, so she almost feels like a little sister,” Chelsea says.
“As she is living in the body of an adult there’s less concern, but we need to remember that these patients are someone’s mother, someone’s father, someone’s daughter, someone’s sibling.
“It shouldn’t matter how old they are, we still want to keep them alive.”
Having started work on the documentary before the UK law change, Chelsea says it was a ‘big moment’, but ended up leaving her feeling ‘defeated’ and ‘disheartened’.
“We were celebrating that day, we really believed that our hard work and the work of all of the advocates who had come before us, had paid off – but it ended up being anticlimactic,” she says.
“I’m a fighter by nature, so it fuelled the fire and we realised this was going to be a much bigger fight than we thought.”
Chelsea might be a fighter, but she is also a realist and after more than three decades of watching her sister suffer, she admits that the fight is exhausting.
“Am I losing steam? Honestly, some days it feels like I am and I wish I could say otherwise, she admits.
“But I am still fighting and just hope that it will happen in my sister’s lifetime.”
She adds: “In an ideal world, the outcome of the film would mean access for my sister, and of course on a wider scale, that everybody that could benefit from cannabis has access to a safe, standardised product.
“But even if we can’t change policies, at the very least I hope that my sister and I sharing our story will touch the lives of other people and help anyone struggling with this condition feel that they’re not alone.”
Sisters Interrupted is due to be released soon. Follow @cbd4epilepsydoc on Twitter for updates and visit www.separatingthestrains.com
Follow Chelsea @chelsealeyland
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