How to tell if your marijuana cartridge is a fake

Published Jul 12, 2019 12:14 p.m. ET
iStock / HighGradeRoots

If you are a cannabis enthusiast who enjoys vaping, then chances are you have dappled in, or in the very least considered buying either CBD or THC cartridges. They are one of the hottest selling marijuana products of 2019, and are generally assumed to be high-quality doses of the labeled cannabinoid, but did you know that it is estimated that approximately 30% of the vape cartridges sold on the market today are fakes? That’s right. Often it is the best and most popular companies that are targeted, so it’s a good idea to know what to look for as a consumer. Since this portion of the market is new, and CBD cartridges are under-regulated, there are a few things you should know before making a purchase. Here are five things that you should do and or look for when selecting a THC or CBD cartridge.

1. Research the name brand
Though these are often the most targeted companies, it is generally the non-existent vape cart “brands” that are a dead giveaway. If your THC cartridge claims to be from a manufacturer that is unsearchable online than chances are they are fakes in disguise. So, this is one of the first things that every knowledgeable consumer should look for.

2. Accredited testing
When you purchase a vape cart, one of the most notable labels on the package is generally the THC or CBD content. If you look a little bit further, there should be the name of a third-party agency that provides quality testing for the company. Without this, the manufactures can be putting anything they want inside of their CBD or THC cartridges, so it’s a good thing to watch out for when trying to spot a fake.

3. Look for broken seals in packaging
In the most elaborate scams that have been uncovered for both THC and CBD cartridges, the boxes were real and straight from the company itself. This can be deceiving and make it difficult to notice any difference until you go to open that package. Most reputable companies will place high-quality stickers over the edges of boxes, so look for any labels that look like they might have been carefully sliced open. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with what the vape carts from your favorite brands look like so that you can easily spot switched products.

4. Watch for damage to the tank or seals
So, you just bought a brand-new THC cartridge, and you get it home to find that something doesn’t seem right, despite everything looking eerily normal. In this case, it is often the juices that are removed and replaced with a watered-down concoction. This is generally done using a needle that is pressed into the edges of the seal around the base of the tank. If the seal on your vape cartridge looks like it has been tampered with, it’s best not to use it, as there could be anything inside.

5. Check the consistency
This is going to change depending on the type of vape pen that you buy. For instance, shatter pens are typically a safe THC cartridge to buy, as they are filled with thick, tar-like marijuana concentrate, that doesn’t swish around with minor movements. Juices and other liquids can be more difficult to tell, as they are watery, but if you always buy the same kind of THC or CBD cartridge, the color, and consistency should not change from one to the next. So if your vape cart looks watered down, then it probably is.

Tips and tricks for avoiding fake vape cartridges

Do not buy vape carts from unlicensed cannabis dispensaries
Licensed marijuana stores will only sell regulated, tested, and verified real products, so they are a relatively safe bet when buying vape cartridges.

Purchase directly from the company wherever possible
If you have the opportunity to do so, always buy directly from the company, as this cuts out the middleman, and lessens the chance for the cartridges to be tampered with along the way.

Never purchase vape cartridges second hand
Though it might seem tempting to pick up a deal from someone who claims to be unhappy with their purchase, this is the absolute worst idea. In this case, most of the signs that would usually be present to verify a marijuana product as legitimate would be removed or damaged. That makes it way too easy to tamper with the cartridge and makes it an unsafe risk.

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