How to Spot a Fake Vape Cartridge

Over the last year, vape carts have been causing hospitalizations and deaths. Instead of a pleasurable vaping experience, these consumers found severe lung illness.

Intense restrictions on cannabis allow the black market to thrive. These regulations increase the taxes on the green rush. And this has driven the price of legal cannabis products sky high.

Lab results are as essential as they are pricey. So it makes sense that some people will try to cut corners by skipping the testing. But, without these crucial tests, there’s no telling what’s in a vape cartridge. This is how bootleg cartridge manufacturers have been getting away with certain additives.

The commotion around counterfeit cartridges is easy to justify. A growing number of people are experiencing illness and even death from fake vape carts. Thus, the need for better regulation is clear.

If you’re into cannabis vaping, learning how to spot a fake vape cartridge is essential. Keep reading for some tips from Vape Shack that might save your life.


Steer Clear of Black Market Cannabis Vape Cartridges

Is it more expensive to buy your goods from a licensed dispensary? Of course.

But to avoid taking risks, it’s best to completely avoid the black market. If the price is too good to be true, you should avoid buying the cartridge. Saving money is nice, but it’s worth it to have peace of mind while using vape pens.

Regulation is damaging to the cannabis industry. But it’s still the only way to guarantee the products you buy are safe. That is, unless you go through a 3rd party to get the products lab tested, of course.

Cannabis bought on the legal market is safer. State laws demand that the products receive rigorous testing. The products also must meet certain quality standards you won’t find on the black market.

Cannabis vape cartridge manufacturers are accountable for their products in the legal market. And this promotes safer experiences among cannabis vapers.

The best option is to go with the medical cannabis programs in your state. Legal, recreational cannabis markets can also provide quality products.

There's almost excessive testing and high standards of the legal cannabis market. Yet it's still not easy to trust dispensaries. Some licensed dispensaries might even try to cut corners and save money.


Keep Your Eyes Peeled for Fake Brand Packages

The cannabis black market encourages imposters. They swoop in and sell bootleg vape cartridges. Even if you’re shopping in a regulated market, there could be phony carts. This is why you should check the packaging of your products to ensure they’re legitimate.

If you’re purchasing in California’s regulated market, you should see a label showcasing:

  • The Manufacturing Date
  • The Batch Number
  • The Lot Number
  • The Packaging Date


Labeling requirements vary from state to state. But there should be some sort of regulations on the label of cannabis products. Fake carts are all too common in the world, and it’s always better to be overcautious than careless.

Some fraud manufacturers are even going as far as to copy popular brands. You might be expecting a quality infused vape cartridge. But instead, you could be purchasing a counterfeit label without even realizing it.

Vape cartridge counterfeiters have been under the guise of several brands. Most notoriously, these phonies pose as Dank Vapes, Brass Knuckles, and Heavy Hitters.

The seemingly authentic packaging is available. These fake cart suppliers buy the packaging on Amazon and other e-commerce sites all the time. So it’s easy for these dishonest manufacturers to act like wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Even the counterfeit labels are readily available for sale. This makes it nearly impossible to spot a legal cannabis brand cart from a phony.

The state-mandated packaging icons are usually a great giveaway. For instance, in the state of California, you’ll notice a THC warning label.

Consider the packaging standards in place in your locality. The packaging should not be missing this key feature. If it is, it could be from a black market manufacturer. This means it probably wasn’t created with safety standards and potency safeguards.

If you’re uncertain about a brand, check with the manufacturer. See if there’s a distinguishing feature you should look out for while you shop.

The most reliable brands might offer QR codes on their packaging. Then, it's a simple scan to determine whether the product is legitimate.


Check Your Retailer’s License

Some retailers hold a valid license. But other shops could be selling products within obeying the regulations in place.

While a regulated cannabis market is more expensive, it’s safer. This is why it’s crucial to check if your retailer has the right licensing to sell products.

If you live in California, shops must clearly publish their license number. The Bureau of Cannabis Control website also has a feature to check if the store’s license is authentic.

If you don’t see a license number, that store is operating in the black market. Or perhaps the shop isn’t obeying the regulations in place. Regardless, it’s not worth risking trusting their cannabis oil cartridges.

You can see the store’s license for yourself. But it’s equally important to look over the products you’re purchasing. If something seems off, it could be a fake vape cartridge.

Check for the product’s unique brand markings. Some could include a QR code you can check, as well.


Check the Ingredients

Vape carts can contain diluents. These can include propylene glycol, medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil, vegetable glycerin, and more.

Manufacturers use oils to dilute cannabis extract and make it easier to vape. These additives aren’t as expensive. And this helps manufacturers keep their costs down and their margins up.

But, one thickener, Vitamin E acetate, is especially bad. This is believed to have caused the black market vape cart hospitalizations. While the official cause of the vape-related illnesses is unknown, it’s best to avoid this diluent.

Chief of Science Officer and founder of Pure Analytics cannabis testing lab, Samantha Miller, says,

“Honestly, it’s been my biggest concern about the vapor cartridges from the beginning. You’re turning that material into super tiny droplets and then inhaling them deep into your lungs. I started to wonder, aren't people’s alveoli just laminating shut from this? Apparently, they are.”

Knowing what’s in your carts ensures that you’re avoiding some potential dangers. But, even though diluents are legal, they’re not 100% safe.

At this point, diluents are still allowed in regulated cannabis products. But the label must include the diluents used in its ingredients list. State laws do not require testing for them, though.

Even with this being the case, some other options are available. Some companies are designing pens that offer 100% cannabis-derived extracts.

This is less problematic than vaping on a combination of diluents and oil. These products adhere to strict quality control standards.

Dosist, Nug, and Jetty all offer high-quality pens that don’t use diluents. So high-quality options are available. The key here is to choose the authentic option, despite the cost.


Stick to the Brands You Trust

If you have brands you’ve been using for a while, stick with them. Experimenting with random vape pens is risky in an unregulated market.

For those who don’t have a brand they trust yet, try brands that already have a place in the cannabis industry. It’s usually best to find a brand that’s been around for at least a few years.

A good reputation is a great sign, so make sure to check the brand’s social media accounts. If there’s anything wrong with their products, social media will make sure to notify the masses.

Brands that are online are under more scrutiny. This makes it safer to use. These products are under the watchful eyes of the public. And this translates to high standards and better quality products.

The black market fake vape cartridges are cheap. But choosing a specific brand and paying the extra cost to get the real deal is the best option.

Some people think they’re getting a deal. But if you’re buying a gram of concentrate for less than $50, you’re likely buying a counterfeit cart.

Buying a real vape cartridge from an authentic brand means you’ll need to pay around $80 for a cartridge. So if you’re buying yours for less, you’re abusing your lungs and could have some serious health problems.


Closing Thoughts

As you shop vape cartridges, keep these tips in mind. Don't make the mistake of purchasing your products from an unreputable seller. You could get sick.

If you feel adverse side effects, immediately seek medical help. Symptoms could include joint soreness, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and more. You could also experience fatigue, dizziness, weakness, and other adverse side effects.

If you ever have any doubts about the authenticity or safety of a vape cartridge, leave it alone! Black market sellers offer attractive pricing. But it’s best to stick with your local licensed dispensary. Saving some money isn’t worth risking your life.