CBD sales violate ethics code

In a memo first reported by Direct Selling News, ethics code administrator Jared Blum concluded, “The present sale of ingestible CBD products is illegal under federal law and hence violates the DSA Code of Ethics.”

Josh Long, Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider

August 1, 2019

2 Min Read
CBD oil 2019

The ethics code administrator of the Direct Selling Association (DSA) has determined members should not be selling CBD in nutritional supplements and other products that can be digested by animals or humans.

In a memo first reported by Direct Selling News, Jared Blum concluded, “The present sale of ingestible CBD products is illegal under federal law and hence violates the DSA Code of Ethics.”

Blum is an attorney who administers DSA’s ethics code and previously worked in FTC’s Office of General Counsel.

In reaching a conclusion about CBD, he cited statements by FDA officials, disclosures during a May 31 public hearing hosted by the agency, and a DSA panel discussion at its annual meeting in June.

“This office is well aware and appreciates the fact that the legal status of CBD ingestible products may be in flux as the FDA considers its options in regulating these products,” Blum wrote in the memo shared by Direct Selling News. “Consequently, for the next 90 days, DSA companies presently selling CBD-infused ingestible products will not be cited for DSA Code of Ethics violations for that sale.”

If FDA does not deem CBD products legal within 90 days, and DSA members continue to sell them in interstate commerce, Blum said a company may be considered in violation of DSA’s ethics code. Failure to correct the violation could lead to Blum’s office notifying DSA’s board of directors of the continuing violation.

An FDA official, Amy Abernethy, M.D., Ph.D., recently stated in testimony on Capitol Hill that a formal rulemaking authorizing CBD in food and supplements could take three to five years to complete, though she said FDA “is exploring options to reach a resolution more quickly and efficiently.”

A trade association based in Washington, DSA represents companies that market products and services directly to consumers through an independent salesforce. Its board of directors work for some of the nation’s largest and most prominent nutritional supplement companies, including Amway, Herbalife Nutrition and Nu Skin Enterprises.

Members of DSA agree to follow a code of ethics as a condition of membership.

Asked to comment on Blum’s memo, DSA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, Adolfo Franco, said in an email that the document “comes from our independent code administrator so [it] speaks for itself.”


About the Author(s)

Josh Long

Associate editorial director, Natural Products Insider, Informa Markets Health and Nutrition

Josh Long directs the online news, feature and op-ed coverage at Natural Products Insider, which targets the health and wellness industry. He has been reporting on developments in the dietary supplement industry for over a decade, with a focus on regulatory issues, including at the Food and Drug Administration.

He has moderated and/or presented at industry trade shows, including SupplySide East, SupplySide West, Natural Products Expo West, NBJ Summit and the annual Dietary Supplement Regulatory Summit.

Connect with Josh on LinkedIn and ping him with story ideas at [email protected]

Education and previous experience

Josh majored in journalism and graduated from Arizona State University the same year "Jake the Snake" Plummer led the Sun Devils to the Rose Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes. He also holds a J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, was admitted in 2008 to practice law in the state of Colorado and spent a year clerking for a state district court judge.

Over more than a quarter century, he’s written on various topics for newspapers and business-to-business publications – from the Yavapai in Arizona and a controversial plan for a nuclear-waste incinerator in Idaho to nuanced issues, including FDA enforcement of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA).

Since the late 1990s, his articles have been published in a variety of media, including but not limited to, the Cape Cod Times (in Massachusetts), Sedona Red Rock News (in Arizona), Denver Post (in Colorado), Casper Star-Tribune (in Wyoming), now-defunct Jackson Hole Guide (in Wyoming), Colorado Lawyer (published by the Colorado Bar Association) and Nutrition Business Journal.

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