Since the dawn of branding and products, the counterfeit market has dawned along with it. All of the largest brand names in the world have their counterfeit rivals, from Nike to Louis Vuitton and so on. However, for cannabis the counterfeit problem has spawned a crisis. A crisis that has led to serious illness and even death.
As more media outlets and scientific journals continue to weigh in on the issue, we really haven’t heard from some of the largest cannabis manufacturers in the industry. The ones that really have something to lose. That is, until now.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), released a report on September 24th, 2019, a mysterious vape-related illness outbreak has affected more than 530 people, including 8 deaths. Even with practitioners and scientists being at the forefront of the epidemic, the exact cause of these serious respiratory illnesses and potentially fatal conditions remain largely unknown. There are a few things we do know, however. We do know the epidemic is specifically tied to the illicit, illegal market; and more specifically, the illegal THC vape pen market.
With the recent deaths sparking high controversy and an immediate demand for investigations, the New York Department of Health is one of the agencies who’ve focus their investigation on the vitamin E acetates used as thickening agents by illegal THC Vape cartridge manufacturers.
The illicit and illegal cannabis market still outnumbers the legal market 3-1, so while cannabis vape cartridges have become widely popular in the states with adult-recreational-use legalized, underground dealers have spurred to capitalize on the growing vape market. They do so by producing unregulated, street-level THC cartridges that are right now, the main culprit of the cannabis vape health crisis. Again, making for another reason why we at GrassDoor implore anyone to purchase from legal, licensed dispensaries and services like us at GrassDoor, to ensure you’re only getting the very safest and proven products.
California has been more fortunate than other states when it has come to the illicit vape-cartridge health epidemic. Recently, in southeastern Wisconsin, police conducted a raid and found 98,000 empty vape cartridges and 57 mason jars full of THC-based liquid. This is one of the few instances where law enforcement and the cannabis industry alike, have seen just how these illicit vape marketers are producing these harmful products.
Cannabis is an industry as well as a community that promotes the overall health and well being of its consumers. While cannabis enthusiasts and patients have largely had to educate themselves on the issue, and while it’s true law enforcement and agencies are in the process of conducting their investigations; several reputable cannabis brands have come out in support to commend the CDC’s crackdown on illegal cannabis vape cartridge production. The first line of defense is always a well-informed consumer, to protect themselves. Next is law enforcement and those agencies tackling the vape-epidemic, but these corporations and brands will help diminish the street dealers that have been flooding the market.
“Greedy, unscrupulous people sidestep regulations and add harmful, even deadly, chemicals to reduce costs and take advantage of uninformed consumers,” said Jason Boze, President and CEO of Stratum Brands, parent company of the Cobra Extracts. “We laud the efforts of the FDA and CDC to raise awareness about the adverse and even deadly impacts non-natural cannabis additives have on unwitting and trusting consumers of illicit cannabis products.”
That being said, it will never be as easy as buying the brands you recognize. Great counterfeits are exactly that, great counterfeits. So it is important that we as consumers are equipped with the knowledge we need to protect outsides from purchasing counterfeit products. That is why it is imperative to purchase your cannabis products from licensed dispensaries and delivery services like us at GrassDoor. As your number one cannabis delivery service in Los Angeles, we like to believe we are helping to combat this issue by always having 100 percent guaranteed authentic cannabis products.
“We see counterfeits everywhere,” Omar Ortiz, assistant brand manager for Cookies, told Weedmaps News. “We’ve had customs actually reach out to us and stop a large order of counterfeit Cookies packaging coming into the U.S.” Cookies manufactures its cannabis products in California and doesn’t sell outside of the state.
A list of some of the more popular counterfeited brands:
Tree Base Klear
Space Monkey Meds
With these brands being some of the most trusted names in cannabis, we can’t fault them for being mimicked by these crooks. What we can do as consumers is remember to look for the qualities we expect from these brands. If we are vigilant, we can identify those red-flags that point to illicit vape production.
“The biggest difference between regulated products and the fakes is exactly that — they are fake,” said Daniel Yi, Chief Communications Officer of Shryne Group, Stiiizy’s parent company. “Fakes are not made at licensed facilities with government oversight, or quality and safety controls. Fake products are not sent to third-party state licensed labs and tested for dangerous chemicals like pesticides.”
The idea is this: look for the qualities you expect in great products. One of the things to look for initially is the packaging of the product. While packaging in illegal vape cartridges are nearly identical, many companies are increasing their efforts to implement indications of fakes. Look for child-resistant security mechanism, state government warnings, manufacturing information regarding who produce the package and at what date; and if possible look for lab testing batch numbers.
“We have changed our packaging six times in the last two years to make our products look different,” Ruben Cross, CEO of well-known cannabis brand Kushy Punch.
If for some reason the packaging has passed all your tests but you might be falling victim to the illicit market, the next aspect to check for is product quality. You should know within the first pull if the quality of the pen meets what you expect from said company. That is why we implore at this time you stick with reputable companies you know and love in the THC vape cartridge market. That being said, you must also keep away from vape cartridge brands that fail to look legit in their branding, packaging, and of course, quality. WeedMaps has recently put out a list of some of the companies that are at are allegedly culprits as “so called brands” purchased on unconventional online retailers like DHGate and Alibaba.
It’s never a simple equation when it comes to our health. It will take some time before the medical and cannabis industries completely understand this epidemic. In the meantime, we hope we have shined some light on the issue, as well as given you an industry perspective that can easily go unnoticed. In the meantime, there are plenty of healthy alternatives to vaping.
by Zane Foley