“Bad actors who attempt to undermine our store do not reflect the flourishing community of honest entrepreneurs that make up the vast majority of our seller community,” Amazon spokesman Patrick Graham said. “We move swiftly to hold bad actors accountable by removing selling privileges, withholding funds, and pursuing civil and criminal penalties.”
But a Washington Post investigation found that it’s possible, even easy, to buy the forbidden compound on the online retail site. Eleven of 13 items The Post purchased last month from Amazon contained CBD, according to an analysis that The Post paid Evio Labs, which specializes in analyzing products for the cannabis industry, to conduct. One product even had a small amount of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis plants that gets people high.
The Post’s investigation illustrates the challenges Amazon faces in policing its platform, which has transformed into an enormous flea market supplied by millions of sellers listing hundreds of millions of items.
To test the e-commerce giant’s ability to police its marketplace, The Washington Post bought 13 products to see if they included CBD. Eleven did.
One place it shouldn’t be found: Amazon. The e-commerce giant’s policy expressly bars the sale of CBD in any product: “Listings for products containing cannabidiol (CBD) are prohibited.”
One of the products The Post purchased and tested came from Boulder, Colo.-based Weller, which sells a variety of CBD products on Amazon. The company designed new packaging for goods on Amazon different from what it uses on its own website. Its Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites on Amazon omits any mention of its most important ingredient.
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To keep CBD products off its site, Amazon says it deploys advanced algorithms designed to sniff out descriptions that could hint at the banned ingredient. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Amazon removed some, but not all, of the product listings after being asked about them by The Post. The company said it was investigating with each of the sellers.
While CBD makers often claim the chemical can help with anxiety, improve sleep and reduce pain, the only legally edible version of CBD is a drug, Epidiolex, prescribed to treat seizure disorders. But because CBD is so widely available and seemingly on a path toward legalization in edible form, prosecutors rarely take action against companies that make supplements or individuals who use them.
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