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CBD Available on Amazon Despite a Ban

Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Last updated: January 23, 2020

Amazon, the e-commerce giant, still avails CBD infused products on its platform despite stating that it bans any CBD sales, The Washington Post investigated

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Shutterstock / Master3D
  • The CBD craze is everywhere and among the places that CBD finds a way is on Amazon
  • According to an investigation by the Washington Post, 11 out of 13 products they tested positive for CBD
  • Most sellers disguise the CBD products under a name that buyers can easily understand while evading detection by Amazon
  • Manufacturers also hide packaging but ultimately sell the same CBD infused product

The CBD craze is everywhere, while more and more people are curious and eager to experiment with it. The market, on the other hand, is facing an influx of hemp products that find their way in literally anything ingestible, you name it. From CBD water to hemp-infused doughnuts, the list is endless. Despite all the fuss, the one place you don’t expect to find any CBD products is on Amazon. Though, is that the reality?

An investigation conducted by The Washington Post revealed that it is still easy to buy CBD products on Amazon despite Amazon placing a ban on all hemp-infused products. 11 out of 13 products they bought on the site contained CBD. Amazon has a firm policy against the product being sold by any merchants.

The policy states:

“Listings for products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) are prohibited.”

Among the products bought by The Post, some came from Weller’s, a Colorado-based CBD producer, known for selling a variety of hemp products. The company, however, came up with a unique packaging design for its products on Amazon different from what they have on their website. One of their products, The Dark Chocolate Bites, does not mention any of its most essential ingredients.

The Washington Post has revealed that the products on both websites are similar; the only difference is the packaging.

“It is the same product,” said an investigator working for The Post.

Amazon Banned, but Still Sales

Amazon, in response, has said it deploys advanced algorithms that are well designed to identify the banned ingredient. It has succeeded in removing some of the banned products, but not all. Besides, it said it is investigating its sellers to establish who is responsible for those products.

“We will move swiftly to hold bad actors accountable by removing selling privileges, pursuing civil and criminal penalties as well as withholding funds,”

Amazon spokesman Patrick Graham told The Post.

CBD is obtained from hemp, a crop that was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. While cannabidiol is one of the trendiest supplements today, it still doesn’t give users a ‘high’, unlike THC, which is still a Cannabis extract but has psychoactive effects. Despite both CBD and THC finding their ways in gummy candies, chocolates, sodas, and many more, it remains federally illegal to have it in food and transport the CBD infused products across state lines.

The Legality and Benefits of CBD Oil

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Shutterstock / Tinnakorn jorruang

Amazon hasn’t given a reason to why it forbids selling CBD, the federal limitations still hinder cross-border trades even if they would like to, making their ban reasonable. CBD is still a controversial product, with its legality being murky and uncertain. While some states like Colorado have no issues with CBD in any form, other states highly upload FDA’s regulations making it illegal to have hemp in any ingestible form except Epidiolex.

Although CBD makers are claiming that it can improve sleep and help with anxiety, the only legal usage of hemp is through a drug known as Epidiolex, which is prescribed to treat seizure abnormalities. CBD’s full availability and its path towards legalization has kept prosecutors from taking action against companies that use CBD products to make supplements or the individuals that use them.

Amazon is facing regulatory scrutiny for its enormous power in e-commerce and the potential it has over third-party merchants in the marketplace. While Amazon did not specify how many listings for CBD products are removed from its site, it said that the AI-driven systems blocked over 3 billion suspected bad listings in 2018 alone. According to Jonathan Miller, the uncertainty surrounding federal CBD law makes selling products with the compound very difficult.

What Did Amazon Say About the Allegations?

The presence of hemp products on Amazon, however, betrays their allegations. When we searched for “CBD oil” on Amazon, more than 10,000 results turned up, with a good number of them described as “hemp oil.” Even though it is unclear how many of these products contain CBD, going through reviews, it is clear that most products contain the chemical.

Interestingly, one reviewer described Weller’s Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites as the “best CBD food product I’ve ever eaten!”

According to Elaine Kwon, a former Amazon manager and now CEO of e-commerce platform Kwontified, to avoid detection by Amazon’s AI systems, most sellers intentionally omit mentioning the words Cannabidiol or CBD in their listings. Instead, they opt for better ‘code words’ that CBD consumers would easily understand. Words like “full-spectrum hemp extract” or “hemp oil” are used to disguise the CBD infused products and supplements.

Kwon, whose clients include CBD sellers, believes that Amazon executives know of CBD sales on their site but choose not to address it.

“They know it is happening. It is a good revenue driver. They are making a lot of money off it,”

said Kwon. Amazon has, however, refuted the claims, saying it does not knowingly permit the sale of such products.

Amazon responded to The Post’s investigations, saying that they would never intentionally permit such sales.

“Amazon does not knowingly permit the sale of products it prohibits. The lack of credibility of this … the statement suggests this individual has no knowledge of how Amazon’s systems work.” Graham said.

Author

Janet Miller

Janet Miller

Janet is a medical specialist with 10 years of experience as a physician and writing passion. She aims to help people and expand humans mindset. Chat with Janet on Twitter @Janet_Miller_MD or via our contact page.

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