By / January 13, 2023

Google Ads Relaxes its CBD Policies a Little

Google will allow advertising for hemp-based products and CBD cosmetics in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico, as part of an update to its hazardous products and services and health care and drugs policies.

The new policy is set to roll out on January 20 unless any unexpected announcements are made in the interim. If there are, however, we will cover them here and in our free cannabis news app.

Advertising CBD for Internal Consumption Will Remain Prohibited

Advertising for CBD for internal human consumption still remains prohibited, the company said, including those for “supplements, food additives and vaping products.”

Google also said that Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved pharmaceutical products will now be allowed to be advertised in those states. Only Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical CBD oil with a high cannabidiol content, has been approved by the FDA to date.

The changes, announced in late 2022, will go into effect on January 20. Advertisers will be able to apply for certification with Google on or after that date, when an application form is published.

Samples and Certificates of Authenticity Required

Google said it has contracted with LegitScript, a Portland, Oregon-based payment compliance company that provides certifications in high-risk industries. Only products certified by LegitScript will be eligible for promotion on Google platforms.

Those wishing to be certified to advertise on Google will need to provide LegistScript with samples of their products and certificates of analysis.

Certification Standards for CBD Advertisers on Google Ads

LegitScript has already published its certification standards for advertising on cannabidiol. Advertisers will have to, among many other things:

  • Demonstrate product compliance with all legal and regulatory standards.
  • If a license is required to manufacture the product, provide it.
  • Applicant must provide a certificate of analysis demonstrating that the CBD used in the final product complies with federal laws regarding the cultivation and processing of hemp.
  • Provide non-expired random samples of the products submitted for certification for testing. These products must contain the advertised amount of hemp-derived compounds and must comply with legal requirements related to cannabinoid substances and ingredient levels.
  • Demonstrate that the products submitted for certification were produced in compliance with all USDA and state hemp cultivation requirements or are otherwise exempt from such requirements.
  • Demonstrate that the applicant or manufacturer of the product, including associated personnel, businesses, or websites, shall not have had any recent and/or repeated significant instances of legal misconduct, disciplinary action, or other regulatory action.
  • Subject the applicant’s company officers, directors, or those with control over significant business decisions to criminal background checks conducted at LegitScript’s request, and these same individuals must disclose any prior criminal, regulatory or civil violations. The applicant must also disclose any litigation initiated, resolved, or otherwise handled that involves the applicant at any time during the past ten years. Prior violations or other bad acts, including any prior regulatory discipline, may be a disqualifying factor at the sole discretion of LegitScript.
  • Adhere to Google’s terms of service for advertising.

Why Does Google Ban CBD?

Google Ads has a policy that prohibits promoting specific products or services that are illegal or have regulatory restrictions. In the case of CBD, it is specifically prohibited by the Unapproved Pharmaceuticals and Supplements policy, which explicitly lists Cannabidiol (CBD) as one.

Indeed, the ban on CBD goes so deep that the simple presence of CBD on a website is enough to get a suspension (and possible ban) from Google Ads. And that applies even if any linking Google Ad/Landing page combination doesn’t even promote or mention CBD.

As for why Google persists with this ban, this is likely down to CBD being promoted as an alternative to many pharmaceutical treatments. Unfortunately, with the science lagging behind big pharma-funded synthetic (patentable) drugs, there just hasn’t been a rigorous body of research/clinical trials to fully support the promotion of CBD for therapeutic purposes under traditional regulations.

And that’s not to mention that CBD is still seen as illegal in many jurisdictions.

(Featured image by Robbie Shade (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr)

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