In the current age of digital commerce, many people look to platforms like Amazon and Ebay as a convenient way to compare and purchase a variety of goods. However, the ease of buying merchandise through these platforms is often tempered by the reality that online shoppers are sometimes more vulnerable to scams and fraud, which is why it is so important for e-commerce websites to protect their customers from unscrupulous sellers.
Unfortunately, consumer protection can sometimes present a conflict of interest for these platforms when they are still able to make money from deceitful merchants, and this raises an important question: are companies like Amazon culpable if they profit from retailers that swindle their customers? It seems reasonable to suggest that e-commerce websites should be responsible for safeguarding consumers from being ripped off, or at the very least, prohibit retailers from presenting their products in a dishonest manner. However, with regard to Amazon’s policies for selling CBD, this does not seem to be the case.
What many people don’t know is that Amazon prohibits the sale of products that contain CBD, evidently due to its confusing legality on a federal level. This in itself would be completely understandable if not for the fact that Amazon still sells ad space for CBD — a simple search for CBD on Amazon will bring up thousands of products. So retailers are still allowed to tag products with “CBD” as well as publish CBD ads, which seems like a contradiction to Amazon’s official policy.
This is problematic for two reasons — firstly, there are authentic CBD products on Amazon that are manufactured by legitimate companies, but these companies are not allowed to advertise as such, due to Amazon’s strict selling policy regarding products that contain CBD. If a reputable hemp extract company attempts to correctly list their ingredients as having hemp extract with CBD, their products are rejected as being prohibited, which means that customers searching for genuine CBD products will be unable to tell which ones actually do contain CBD.
This also opens up the door for snake oil operations; in these cases, deceitful sellers take advantage of the fact that “hemp seed oil” and “hemp oil” are interchangeable terms. This enables them to advertise their products as having hemp oil when in fact they only have hemp seed oil, and the two things are completely different in terms of the compounds they contain. Hemp seed oil has no CBD, or any other phytocannabinoids, which is why its sale is not restricted. However, many consumers may see a product being advertised as having hemp oil, not realizing that means it only has hemp seed oil and not hemp extract that contains CBD, so they end up purchasing an item that is ultimately not what they wanted or were looking for.
Making matters worse is that many of these fraudulent hemp seed oil companies have a lot of fake reviews which give amazing ratings tor phony CBD products, and this further contributes to innocent people being ripped off.
Last year, Forbes reported that Amazon had surpassed Walmart as the world’s largest retailer, spanning multiple different categories. Amazon is a platform for third party retailers, as well as Amazon itself being a retailer, with a massive manufacturing operation that comprises of hundreds of shipping centers throughout the world. Many people trust that when they are researching products to purchase through Amazon that it is being represented accurately, and if it’s not, then Amazon will take steps to ensure that the fraudulent seller is dealt with appropriately.
What is apparent is that Amazon wants to have its cake and eat it too; instead of having a definitive policy either banning or allowing CBD products, they skirt the issue by enabling both, and as a result the consumers who use their platform end up being taken advantage of.