Cannabis herb and leaves for treatment broth, tincture, extract, oil. Selective focus. nature; Shutterstock ID 1166078620; Usage (Print, Web, Both): web; Issue Date: 4/18/19; Comments: CBD story

The New York Attorney General has told Finest Herbalist to stop claiming that one of its cannabidiol products can cure coronavirus.

Finest Herbalist has been told to stop marketing Pure Herbal Total Defense Immunity Blend as a means of curing or treating COVID-19, the office said in a statement Thursday. “By misrepresenting the effectiveness of products against COVID-19, companies like Finest Herbalist are giving consumers a false sense of security, putting their very lives at risk,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement. “Deceptive marketing is never acceptable, especially during a time of crisis.”

The Attorney General’s office said Finest Herbalist sent customers e-mail campaigns, text messages and “bogus news web sites” that included phrases like “Protection From Corona Virus with Immunity Oil” — and that television personalities like Wayne Allyn Root and televangelist Jim Bakker had been sent cease and desist letters. The company is being required to cut out deceptive marketing practices and put a disclaimer on web pages saying the product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, including COVID-19.

In addition to tackling the CBD marketing issue, the Attorney General in New York also issued cease and desist notifications to “hundreds of businesses” in the state for “charging excessive prices for hand sanitizer, disinfectant sprays and rubbing alcohol.

The warning comes as CBD sales continue to soar. The category makes up about $20 million in the drug and grocery channel, and is up 350 percent in the past year, according to data from IRI. For the four weeks ending March 15, sales were up 38.7 percent, and for the week ending March 15, were up 75.8 percent, according to data from IRI.

Finest Herbalist is not the first wellness company to be slapped for its marketing violations during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Federal Trade Commission issued warnings to seven companies that had claimed their products could help treat COVID-19.

More broadly, many companies in the beauty and apparel spaces have struggled to find the right tone when marketing products during the pandemic.

For more from WWD.com, see: 

Marketing in the Age of Coronavirus: The Dos and (Many) Don’ts