Letter to the Industry: Debunking Misinformation About CBD Labeling



Editor's Note: The following is an edited version of an open letter to the pet industry that Pet Releaf co-founder and president Steve Smith distributed in November 2018. 


To All Animal Lovers,


As the true pioneers of the hemp derived CBD pet industry, we feel morally obligated to issue this memo to debunk the scare tactics and absolute false information being peddled in the pet industry regarding the use of the term “CBD” on labels. 


Despite the claims of many/most of Pet Releaf’s competitors, the term and use of CBD is absolutely NOT a banned or illegal term. That is an absolute insult to the intelligence of anyone who has actually taken the time to read the FDA statements on hemp derived CBD and, in particular, the patent process and final approval of Epidiolex (the synthetic CBD molecule patented by GW Pharma to alleviate 2 forms of childhood epilepsy). 


The sales reps, distributor reps and private label “PCR-rich” companies making such ridiculous claims without one ounce of proof should be called to task. Ask any of them to prove ANYWHERE the FDA has given the trademark on the term “CBD” over to GW Pharma. 


Here are the facts: 


• The GW Pharma approval process and the final FDA patent NEVER says one word about granting them a protected trademark on CBD. That is exactly why the patent only gives them protection on their specific version and their specific name—Epidiolex. 


• GW Pharma (same company) already has a patent on Sativex in place for 20 plus years. Sativex is a synthetic THC drug. Have you ever heard anyone claim it is illegal to say “THC” on a label? No, because it would be a ridiculous statement.


• THC and CBD were discovered in the 60s and 70s in Israel by Dr. Mechoulam’s team of scientists. No company can ever claim to own someone else’s discovery and no one can claim ownership of the names and abbreviations of such discoveries which have been in common use for 50 plus years. That is like saying someone can own the term “Vitamin C” if they patent a compound based on Vitamin C. 


• The way the FDA and the DEA determine if a product itself is illegal is by the product contents themselves. A person CANNOT label heroin as “poppy-rich oil” and claim it is OK just because they don’t say heroin. Mislabeling a product to hide a “supposedly” illegal product would be a crime. So hemp derived CBD oil is either illegal or it is not—no matter what someone puts on a label. 


• Pet Releaf is on the Board of Directors of the US Hemp Round Table, which actually helped Senator Mitch McConnell’s team write the 2018 Hemp Bill that [was just passed] in Congress. Speaking as a Board Member, I guarantee there has NEVER been discussion about the term CBD being illegal by the US Congress in its Hemp Bill—and the FDA has not requested such language either from the Congress. 


• Fact: The DEA and the FDA have not made any deals whatsoever with any supplement certification group regarding the use of the term CBD. 


• Fact: [It is the opinion of many experts that] all isolate-based products are 100% illegal, as they absolutely are attempting to copy GW Pharma by creating a “pure” CBD product. That directly impedes on the patent and calling it PCR rich does not protect the illegal activity. 


• Fact: What is absolutely illegal are the companies with false organic claims on their labels. Their days are numbered. The USDA and the FDA are extremely aggressive with false claims of organic. That’s where retailers need to be very careful as class action lawsuits are already being prepared in several states and they will undoubtedly accuse the retail stores of participating in the threat to the health and safety of their companions. 


It has been heart wrenching to watch the flood of dubious CBD products enter the pet industry over the last 12 to 18 months. Products claiming to know their farmers, claiming to be cleanly extracted, claiming to have magically only removed the THC molecule (impossible unless the products cost 10 times or more what they are sold for – ask any chemist), claiming to be organic, and the list goes on and on. And now, in a blatant attempt to compete, some are now spreading absolute falsehoods and using scare tactics to try and grab shelf space. 


We embrace competition but those that would peddle inferior products and use deception to sell their products when animal’s health and lives are at stake should be ashamed. 


Why not just do things the way Pet Releaf does—full 100% transparency, full 100% honesty, follow the actual science, and ALWAYS true to the mission to change what healthy means for pets. 


We look forward to many more years of partnering with those that share that mission. 


With best regards to all true animal lovers, 

Steve Smith



Steve Smith is president and co-founder of Pet Releaf


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