As a CBD seller, it can be difficult to gain traction online as many of the traditional online marketing avenues aren’t open to you. Facebook Ads and Google Ads still explicitly prevent the advertising of CBD on their ad platforms and, while Instagram is a good alternative, the advertising costs can mount up quickly.
You might have noticed hemp oils being sold on Amazon and have considered investigating this platform as an alternative traffic stream, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind before you head down this path.
Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil (they’re not the same thing!)
Do a quick search for ‘hemp oil’ on Amazon UK, and you’ll be offered a wide range of hemp oils which might lead you to conclude that CBD oil can, in fact, be sold on Amazon. Unfortunately, what you’re seeing there is hemp seed oil, which is made from industrial hemp seeds meaning that it’s full of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, terpenes and vitamins, but there’s no trace of CBD or THC. What’s confusing is that it is marketed as helping with many of the same ailments and conditions that CBD works on such as anxiety, stress, immune function, and inflammation.
We’re here to help solve the great hemp extract mystery once and for all. Many people, especially those that are new to CBD, think that hemp oil is the same as CBD oil. And it’s no surprise. CBD brands sometimes label their products as “hemp extract” which is accurate because CBD oil is made from hemp extracted from industrial hemp. Other commonly used terms are ‘hemp oil extract’ and ‘hemp oil’. Hemp seed oil contains high levels of protein and vital amino acids and is used for cooking as well as for its many health-giving benefits.
But, and this is where it can get a bit confusing, not all hemp oil products contain CBD. Cannabidiol is found in the highest concentrations in the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant. In contrast, hemp oil is made from the seeds of the hemp plant (and it may be labelled as ‘hemp seed oil’). Hemp oil contains no CBD, so it’s not the right choice if you’re looking for a product that offers the wellness-supporting benefits of cannabidiol. While CBD oil cannot be sold on Amazon, the same does not apply to hemp seed oil which is permitted for sale.
Selling CBD products on Amazon
Selling CBD products goes against Amazon’s own terms. Amazon have made it very clear that they do not allow the sale of CBD products (whether it be tinctures, edibles, capsules, topicals or vapes). According to their restricted product list, “Products containing cannabidiol (CBD), a Schedule I Controlled Substance, including but not limited to: Rich Hemp Oil containing cannabidiol (CBD)”.
But it’s still confusing because the Farm Bill in America has made a clear distinction between industrial hemp products (of which CBD oil is one) and marijuana, which is still a Schedule I drug. CBD extracted from industrial hemp legal can therefore legally be sold in the US. It has been suggested that Amazon simply doesn’t want to be responsible for educating their market, nor for policing their sellers because they would have to ensure that the CBD oil was derived from hemp and not marijuana in order for it to be legal for sale (both in the US and the UK).
Buying CBD products on Amazon
Amazon’s terms and conditions prohibit the sale of CBD oil. Amazon officials have released statements confirming the ban stating that no products containing CBD can be listed for sale. Unfortunately, there are many sellers who ignore these regulations, relying on misleading advertising and vague working to continue to distribute their products on the Amazon marketplace.
So, you’re opening yourself up to a myriad of potential issues if you do decide to go ahead. Most of the CBD products that are listed on Amazon are fly-by-night operators who are taking a chance that Amazon might overlook their listing. That means that you, as the buyer, place yourself at risk as the product may be low quality. With CBD being a banned product on Amazon, there are no established brands selling their products. Instead, there are fake products by sellers who are taking advantage of a high-volume keyword (CBD) with very little competition (because it’s a banned product).
While the convenience and security of online shopping on Amazon is very tempting, you should rather look elsewhere to get your CBD products. Unfortunately, the ‘Amazon CBD scam’ leaves many people disappointed every month as they think they’re ordering a good quality product through a reputable platform. And this has the knock-on effect of meaning that people who do receive their CBD products through Amazon might think that CBD itself doesn’t work, where actually the issue lies with the brand they have chosen.
You also need to consider the risk of buying CBD that, in addition to not being effective, may also be downright harmful. Unscrupulous CBD manufacturers may be falsifying their ingredient list (or in some cases not even testing their CBD oils). In one study, a sample of different CBD products were tested, and the researchers found that:
- 40% of the products contained less CBD than as advertised on their labels
- 24% contained more CBD than advertised
- C20% contained enough THC to trigger a false positive on a drug screening for marijuana
Another study done on products by a leading CBD manufacturer found that the products contained foreign compounds that weren’t included on the label, including Melatonin, Dextromethorphan and 5F-ADB. If this happens with leading CBD manufacturers, imagine what less reputable companies may be adding to their CBD products.
Lastly, there is a chance that the product could be removed from sale at any time. You may have placed an order, but Amazon could take down the listing, and you would have no recourse with the seller.
Frequently asked questions about buying and selling CBD oil on Amazon in the UK
Having worked in the CBD industry for many years and witnessed the industry’s huge growth first-hand, many of our clients turn to us for answers to their questions. Understandably they have questions about buying and selling CBD oil on Amazon, especially when they see their competitors listing on the platform. These are some of the most common questions that we get asked:
Why do buyers continue to purchase unverified CBD products on Amazon?
Most people are not aware that Amazon has banned the sale of CBD products, so they go onto the site expecting to be able to purchase a product that is otherwise perfectly legal. This doesn’t only apply to CBD oil, there are a number of different forms of CBD (from gummies to creams and more) that are available on Amazon, but still, go against the online retailer’s Ts and Cs. There are two main reasons for this:
1. Buyers are used to the convenience of online shopping on Amazon’s platform
Every month online shoppers continue to buy these unverified products, largely because they’ve become so accustomed to searching the Amazon website, clicking ‘add to cart’, and getting their products shipped to them. Quick and easy. Unfortunately, because these products aren’t verified because they’ve been posted illegally, the customer actually has no way of knowing what is in their purchase. Remember that even the top-selling CBD oils are in violation of Amazon’s drug policy.
2. Vague wording and alternative keywords
To take advantage of unsuspecting customers and get around Amazon’s security scan, scammers use a variety of different keywords in place of “CBD oil” such as hemp products” which are allowed to be sold and will therefore not be flagged for removal. While Amazon’s AI scanning system is widely recognised for its ruthless efficiency, some lateral thinking on the behalf of some CBD sellers allows them to continue to sell and market their products. This means that unsuspecting buyers end up buying poor-quality CBD without even knowing that cannabidiol is prohibited on Amazon.
If CBD is legal in the UK, why is CBD restricted on Amazon.co.uk?
Amazon globally is subject to American regulations, so while Amazon.co.uk is not prohibited from selling CBD products under UK law (well until 31 March 2021 anyway), they follow the terms and conditions set out by Amazon in the US.
Still, want to go ahead with buying a CBD product on Amazon?
Whether you’re looking for a lotion, capsules or edibles, make sure you do your research. Taking a few minutes to investigate the brand will give you a good idea of the quality of the products that they offer. Look for indications that they are a reputable brand such as an official website, customer reviews and a social media presence. If you can’t find any evidence of them outside of Amazon, rather don’t purchase their products!
If you’re thinking about selling CBD oil on Amazon, even though it’s against their terms and conditions, it’s probably not worth the risk. If you get caught, your account will be banned, and you might end up with some very unhappy customers. You also risk doing damage to your brand as almost all reputable CBD companies steer clear of listing their products on Amazon, choosing rather to use other online channels to market their products and spread awareness of CBD.
If you’re thinking about buying CBD on Amazon, be prepared to do some research of your own, and make sure you’re comfortable with the risk that comes with buying a product that has been officially banned. You’ll need to verify that you’re buying a product from a reputable brand, and ensure that you don’t end up buying hemp oil when you’re actually looking for CBD oil.
Buying and selling CBD on Amazon is a minefield as most sellers get around Amazon’s terms of service by using ‘hemp’ as the primary descriptor for their product. And, as long as CBD continues to be banned by the e-retail giant, there’s no way to guarantee that you will be able to order and receive a high-quality cannabidiol product.