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Warnings over CBD scams falsely endorsed by Sir David Attenborough



Consumers are being urged to be extra vigilant following reports of scams by rogue CBD companies.

Elderly people and those with long-term health conditions are being targeted by ‘unscrupulous’  CBD brands making false claims online.

A number of people have reported having considerable sums of money taken from their bank account after being persuaded to sign up for a free trial by companies claiming to be endorsed by Sir David Attenborough.

Adverts on social media and elsewhere online used photos of Attenborough without permission to promote CBD oil, while also making a number of unsubstantiated medical claims.

One advert stated that CBD is known to ‘support the nutritional health of aging bodies’, while another claims to ‘relieve chronic pain’, ‘reduce anxiety’ and ‘lower blood sugar’.

Pat, 73, (who asked us not to use her surname) told Cannabis Health that more than £160 was taken from her bank after she was taken in by a company called Canzana.

Pat, who has overcome cancer and has mobility issues following a knee replacement, says the advert appeared in her email inbox and the photo of Attenborough caught her attention.

“I’d been thinking about taking CBD for a while after having cancer and prior to that, a knee replacement. All the cancer drugs have really affected my joints and an osteopath recommended I try CBD during my treatment,” she said.

“Due to my profession I wanted to make sure I stayed within the law, so when I saw the picture of David Attenborough, I immediately thought it must be legitimate because he wouldn’t put his face on something that was illegal.”

The company appears to offer people a free sample of CBD oil by asking them to sign up for a trial period, they are then asked to enter payment details to cover the cost of delivery.

“At the time I was slightly worried about having to give them my credit card details, but I thought the worst that can happen is I might lose the £3 delivery charge,” continued Pat.

“I thought how am I ever going to find out about this stuff if I don’t try it? So I took a leap of faith.

“There was no mention of any kind of contractual obligation or further payment.”

Pat’s bank statement shows two transactions of £3.25 and then £4.75 went out of her account on 28 September.

The package arrived the following week containing CBD gummies and a bottle of CBD hemp oil.

But a few days later the same company made a request for payment of £85 and then another for £82, which was stopped by her bank after it raised concerns.

Several other members of CBD user support groups on Facebook also told Cannabis Health that the same thing had happened to them.

A spokesperson for David Attenborough has now confirmed that he has no involvement with these companies.

In a statement they said: “Sir David Attenborough has been appalled to discover companies are using his name and image to advertise CBD oil on Facebook and elsewhere online. These are not genuine endorsements and Sir David has had no involvement whatsoever with these products.

“The companies do not have permission to use Sir David’s name or image – Sir David only allows the use of his name and image for marketing in connection with his own programmes and books.”

Mary Biles, a cannabis journalist and author of The CBD Book, warned people to be wary of free trials online saying there is ‘always a catch’.

“People buying CBD for the first time are often in a vulnerable situation and I think it’s disgusting that they are targeted by unscrupulous companies like Canzana using false celebrity endorsements to lure them in,” she said.

“It’s important consumers realise that whenever a CBD company offers some sort of free trial there is always a catch involved and may lead to them being signed up unknowingly to a subscription scheme which may then be difficult to get out of.

“It goes without saying these kinds of companies are highly unlikely to be selling safe, quality CBD products as they clearly have no concern about the wellbeing of their customers.”

Mary added: “For anyone new to CBD, it’s always advisable to choose from companies that are transparent and ethical about where their CBD is sourced, provide detailed descriptions of their products (including certificates of analysis from a third party laboratory for each batch), and make no wild medical claims on their website.”

Meanwhile Sian Phillips, managing director of the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) confirmed she was aware of the companies in question and urged consumers to be extra vigilant when buying CBD products online.

She commented: “The general public have to be so careful about who they buy their CBD products from.

“Make sure the company you are dealing with makes no medical claims on their website or social media, that they follow MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) regulations and always look out for the CTA membership logo on their website.

“Any company making medical claims is obviously using that to boost sales and that is frowned on by the rest of the industry.”


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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