By Brad Bogus
At CannaCraft, we strive to apply pharmaceutical-grade standards to our products while maintaining our core values of compassion and kindness. As part of our commitment to quality, we maintain high standards for the claims we make about how a product works or the specific effects it provides. This isn’t just an expression of our mission, it’s actually the law.
Some cannabis brands make claims that their products can treat or cure a litany of conditions, from sleeplessness to cancer. Often these claims are unsubstantiated by the current state of scientific research. Every claim that is made without heavy scientific evidence or substantiation misinforms customers and patients, leads to less trust in cannabis as a medicine or supplement, and allows regulators to shed more doubt on the efficacy of cannabis. We don’t want to contribute to worsening the problem, we want to engender trust and further the development of cannabis as a helpful plant.
So how do we perform scientific substantiation?
We back up every claim with multiple clinical scientific studies, which we keep on file for regulators to reference. It is challenging, makes it a lot harder to market a product for any specific problem, and requires more work on our end to make any claims; but it is worth it in the end.
The head of our science department, Matt Elmes, PhD, has looked at nearly every single published clinical study about cannabis in humans and animals, and determined from that body of research what could possibly be substantiated based on the current state of the science. Matt regularly audits the "state of substantiation" every quarter and new research is added to his library of studies. Every claim we make is flagged early in the development process by our legal department to ensure that they are cross-referenced in the research library to determine accuracy, and changed or removed if not.
What product claims are valid?
For a specific product to be viewed as providing a positive effect for any single condition, it must have statistical significance that the formulation effect outpaces the placebo effect in a double blind study. A placebo is known as “sugar pill,” an imitation of a real pharmaceutical used in studies that has no physical impact on the patient. Placebos can cause a patient to think they are taking a substance that has a physical effect when it doesn’t, which helps identify if the physical effects that patients feel from real pharmaceuticals are not psychologically imagined. Double blind studies are constructed so that neither the patient nor the experimenter know whether placebo or actual pharmaceuticals are being prescribed to the patient.
Until more double blind, placebo-controlled studies are conducted and then peer-reviewed, this research will continue to be scant and hard to find, as they are often conducted by private companies. While cannabinoids have been studied since the 1960s, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) wasn’t discovered until the 1990s. The ECS is a system that regulates other systems in the body, like the nervous system and the immune system. We have cannabinoid receptors throughout our body, from head to toe. Scientists have only recently discovered the ECS, and therefore still have much to learn about how it works.
Much of the existing research on cannabis is known as pre-clinical research. This means that rather than a placebo-controlled, double blind study done on humans, the research has been conducted in petri dishes or on animals like mice. This is still very important research. However, no amount of this kind of research is enough for substantiating claims on the human body. While mice and humans share a portion of our DNA with roughly 90%+ similarity, we’re still entirely different species with very different reactions to substances.
Ultimately, we are hesitant to over-extrapolate results from preclinical trials. Therefore, we don’t make many claims of how our products will treat specific conditions based on them.
We do create formulations using the entire breadth of scientific knowledge available, from preclinical trials to anecdotal evidence to double blind, placebo controlled clinical research studies. All of these endeavors uncover important information and potential direction on what a product can do for us. We formulate what we believe will work, but remain cautious about making any claims on how a product works until clinical trials can substantiate such a claim.
For CannaCraft to make a claim, a high set of standards must be met. Just what are those standards?
- For an effect to be claimed to treat a specific condition, there must be statistical significance that the effect outpaces the placebo effect
- More than one study confirming this effect and outcome must be available (if any study finds otherwise, we avoid making the claim)
- The doses used in the study must be relevant and reasonable (giving a mouse 10,000 milligrams of CBD a day is unreasonable and irrelevant to how much cannabis is typically consumed by an average human)
- The method of administration matters: a study done on edibles doesn’t inform on claims we can make on topicals, for instance
As the cannabis industry evolves, there will be even harsher crackdowns by the various state cannabis regulatory agencies and/or the federal government on companies making spurious claims on what their product can do. We can see that already happening in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. The federal government and state regulators have fined and warned a number of companies for claiming their CBD or THC product treats or even cures the disease. We can certainly expect more of this as time goes on.
Those penalties can be really stiff for any company making false or misleading claims, leading to being sued at the state and federal level or incurring class action lawsuits from customers. However, it’s more important to believe in being responsible and committing to the letter and spirit of the law. If you sell products and advertise them, you have responsibilities to consumers to be truthful, not misleading, and must have a reasonable basis for any claim made.
We’re not worried about that at CannaCraft. Our claims meet or exceed the standards required to make a claim, when it is made. We’re careful not to mislead our customers or patients because we’re careful not to make conclusions based on information that might not pass muster when evaluated through peer-review. It’s one of the most important aspects of the scientific method, a core value of our company that remains central to how we produce our products.
We value you and your trust, and we’ll never mislead you. Take a look at our website and you’ll find only science-backed cannabis products crafted using all of the available knowledge we have at our disposal.
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