We’ve been asked about ecommerce websites for CBD. Our first thought — and maybe yours, too, if you’re interested in creating an ecommerce website for CBD products — was that there might be special laws about CBD websites.
We take the law seriously, so we did some research on the subject.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol, a compound from cannabis plants. These oils don’t contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the intoxicating element of cannabis. CBD products made from hemp plants which do not contain more than 0.3 percent of THC may be legal to buy or sell.
Marijuana, which is defined as cannabis plants with more than 0.3 per cent THC, is federally illegal and classified as a schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration. You cannot legally buy or sell it, as far as the federal government is concerned, though it is legal in 11 states and in Washington, D.C.
Here in Arkansas, licensing is required to grow hemp, to extract CBD from plants, produce CBD products, sell seeds, and more. But no special license is required to sell CBD products.
That’s not all!
Adding CBD to food or drink in the context of interstate commerce is illegal at the federal level. That means that you cannot sell CBD-infused coffee and similar products across state lines. It is also illegal to market CBD as a dietary supplement.
The FDA is currently working on determining the safety of CBD. They’re looking at some evidence for liver damage with extended use. They’re checking the safety of the products for special groups like children and the elderly, finding out about safe levels of daily use, and investigating possible interactions with drugs. As they learn more, the laws could change.
But let’s assume that you are on top of the legal requirements for your products. What about CBD websites? Are there rules you should know?
Don’t make medical claims
There is only one CBD product accepted by the FDA: Epidiolex, a drug used in the treatment of epilepsy. Unless you’re selling this product, you can’t legally make medical claims at your website.
The FDA has already issued a warning to at least four companies for making unsubstantiated medical claims for CBD products.
So what’s an unsubstantiated medical claim? Saying that your CBD products are effective in treating medical conditions without proof that the FDA will accept is an unsubstantiated claim. When those medical conditions are serious diseases like cancer or Parkinson’s, the FDA is likely to take action.
Include a disclaimer
Your website should include a disclaimer like, “The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or an alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.”
You can put this on a separate page with a link from your footer (the section at the bottom of the page), or you can put it directly into the footer.
Having this disclaimer doesn’t protect you if you also make medical claims.
Have an age-verification splash page or pop-up
Use a splash page or a pop-up to ask your visitors if they are of legal age to shop with you. CBD in particular has no federal legal age limits. However, it may be used for vaping, and particular states may have age regulations.
Your visitors may also be more comfortable if you have age verification at your website.
Consider a high-risk industry payment gateway
Some payment providers will not allow you to use their software to sell CBD products. Selling CBD is considered a high-risk industry — a field which is especially likely to have issues with fraud and other such problems.
WooCommerce integrates several different high-risk payment gateways. We have not tried any of them, so we can’t recommend one.
Plan for theft or confiscation
Theft or confiscation (at the post office, for example) are much more likely for CBD products than for T shirts. Make sure that your shipping information includes a statement saying that you are not responsible for lost or stolen products.
If your customer doesn’t receive a package, you might still have to re-ship or provide a refund. After all, your customers assume they will get what they pay for.
However, a statement of this kind can reduce the number and severity of problems.
Find out about sales tax
States are now allowed to require sales tax compliance from sellers in other states. Many states have passed laws of this kind, and some have special taxes for CBD products. Most have a sales threshold of some kind –in many cases, you don’t have to collect sales tax if you sell less than $100,000 a year in the state.
In some cases, however, the threshold is based on the number of transactions. And many states have not yet finalized their laws. Make sure you check the laws for each state you sell to.
You must register, in most states, before you can collect sales tax. It might seem easier to collect tax from everyone, just in case, but it’s actually dangerous. You could find yourself required to give the taxes back to your customers — and that could be difficult.
Rely on SEO for marketing
Google and Facebook won’t allow ads for CBD products. Social media posting is an option, but social media platforms can change their rules at any moment.
You must have a good website that ranks well for consumer searches about CBD products. Since ecommerce is the most popular way to see CBD products, new CBD websites face a very competitive landscape.
You’ll need a serious content marketing strategy — and with the legal requirements to avoid medical claims, you’ll need to choose very responsible healthcare content providers.