According to a report by the Cannabis Industry Journal, more than 70 percent of all CBD products purchased at unlicensed CBD shops in Los Angeles are counterfeit. Given that California has one of the most significant cannabis markets in America, this is a worrying sign for the legal weed industry. For this reason, stakeholders and consumers in the marijuana industry should join forces to eliminate this problem before it gets out of hand.
Counterfeiting has been a significant issue for most industries across the world. It's been projected that the negative impacts of counterfeiting and piracy would drain approximately $4.2 trillion from the global economy by 2022. It also highlighted that these vices would be detrimental to more than just the economy.
Counterfeiting and piracy also lead to criminal enforcement and displacement of economic activities. The report predicted that counterfeiting would put close to 5.4 million legitimate jobs at risk by the end of this year.
The study exposes a significant concern of how counterfeiting is becoming a global problem that all stakeholders need to address. Since it has started to creep into the cannabis industry, stakeholders need to act fast to avert dire consequences.
According to a study by SC Laboratories, More than 70 percent of cannabis products purchased at unlicensed CBD stores in Los Angeles failed after-market testing. More than half of the samples tested labeled as hemp or hemp-based did not qualify as hemp.
Still, perhaps what’s more concerning than the overall failure rate is the level of contamination in the products. In some cases, impurity levels on these cannabis products were several hundred times over the limits.
There has been an exponential growth in the number of synthetic cannabinoid agonists over the last few years, with some having a similar structure as THC. For this reason, it has become increasingly difficult to discern the differences and keep a complete list of them.
Most of these chemicals are fabricated without standards or regulations. Consequently, this has caused detrimental results, with the most extreme case being a version of synthetic cannabis laced with rat poison that caused several deaths.
Such cases are rampant in large markets like the California cannabis space. Since these illegal industries skirt regulations and operate under no scrutiny, authorities can’t ensure consumer safety. Therefore, cannabis users who acquire such products put themselves at risk.
Last year, synthetic THC was the principal cause for daily calls to Poison Control. The pseudo substance, mostly laced in edible, tripled the number of poisoning cases in the state from 2019 to 2020 and could cause even more significant damage in the future.
Although unscrupulous cannabis dealers are to blame for all this, consumers are the ones who pay an unnecessary and costly price. The major problem is that clients are unable to identify counterfeit cannabis products.
For instance, vape pens were revolutionary products when they were first released. However, as they became more popular, counterfeiters introduced unregulated illicit products. Consequently, these items led to Vaping-Associated Pulmonary Illness (VAPI), which affected thousands of people nationwide.
However, there are various ways cannabis consumers can use to differentiate counterfeit products from legitimate ones. A good example is associating products with their prices. If an authentic-looking cannabis product has a questionable price tag, it’s highly likely to contain synthetic THC.
Also, products that don’t have the logo of a reputable marijuana brand or missing vital information like THC content can be counterfeit. Consumers should also check for laboratory testing information and regulation compliance stamps to pick out authentic products.
An essential rule of thumb is that legitimate cannabis brands are willing to suffer financial losses to gain trust and reputation. Therefore, consumers should approach any products that seem lacking in one way or another with extreme caution.
Despite the prevalence of illicit cannabis products, authorities are working hard to crack down on them. However, to effectively bring down these counterfeiting syndicates, cannabis businesses should also be involved in finding a solution.
There are numerous things cannabis entrepreneurs can do to sensitize their customers about counterfeit goods in the industry. One way is through providing images and videos of authentic products on their websites. Although consumers would have to navigate the site to find this information, it is essentially worth the effort.
Another technique entrepreneurs can adopt is labeling their products with unique barcodes to prevent forgery. The only downside to this is that businesses will have to implement a method to authenticate their product codes.
There’s no denying that both businesses and consumers suffer immensely at the hands of counterfeiters. Therefore, it’s upon both parties in conjunction with law enforcement to ensure they find a lasting solution to this detrimental practice.