Plaintiff in Lawsuit Against Charlotte’s Web Says Company Can’t Pause Case
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Plaintiff in Lawsuit Against Charlotte’s Web Says Company Can’t Pause Case

The latest in Moqeet v. Charlotte’s Web Inc., a proposed class-action case over the labeling of CBD products.

January 28, 2021

As courts across the country put cannabidiol (CBD) lawsuits on pause in anticipation of guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Charlotte’s Web wants to do the same in its latest class-action lawsuit. But the plaintiff thinks otherwise.

Rasunae Moqeet filed a lawsuit in a California district court against Charlotte’s Web in August alleging the company labels its products as dietary supplements. (Under current federal law, CBD products may not be included in any product except Epidiolex.)

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Charlotte’s Web filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in December, but Moqeet recently responded with a court filing opposing that motion. In her argument, Moqeet told the court that labeling products as dietary supplements violates both California and federal laws, and that any guidance from the FDA would be forward-looking—not retroactive.

"Defendant now seeks to avoid liability for the illegal sale of its CBD products by hiding behind the doctrines of preemption and primary jurisdiction," Moqeet said in her filing. "Defendant also contends that the plaintiff's complaint fails to meet the applicable pleading standards, and that the case should be stayed. These arguments are all meritless."

Moqeet goes on to argue that the FDA has concluded CBD products are “illegal to introduce into interstate commerce.”

“Plaintiff’s claims are not preempted because the CBD products are not dietary supplements and such labeling violates both state law and parallel federal law,” the filing says.

According to Law360, Charlotte’s Web argued in December that proceeding with the case would interfere with the FDA’s authority over the labeling of CBD products. The company also said that if the court doesn’t dismiss the case entirely, it should at least put it on pause until the FDA completes its rulemaking process, Law360 reports.

Other courts across the country have agreed with that reasoning and have either stayed or completely dismissed lawsuits against CBD companies, stating they need further guidance from the FDA on how to proceed.

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Charlotte’s Web has been the subject of several class-action lawsuits since 2019. Company CEO Deanie Elsner has attributed that to a lack of FDA regulations.

“Where you’ve got high growth and a lot of competition and uncertainty, people are going to look to take advantage,” Elsner said in Hemp Grower’s November/December 2020 issue. “We are tackling any of these class actions aggressively, because we think we’re in the right.”