The California Cannabis Industry Association has created a series of resources to help the public identify counterfeit vape cartridges that could damage their health.
There are now more than 1,000 reported cases nationwide of the lung illness that has been linked to illicit marijuana vaporizers and cartridges. There have been 104 cases in California, and two of the 19 deaths confirmed nationwide were in the state, so the CCIA is working with authorities on a collaborative response.
It has created a two-sided 4×9 inch rack card for retailers to print and hand out at their stores and at local events. It has also created a poster for retailers to hang up, informing consumers that licensed retailers carry only cannabis cartridges that are rigorously tested for residuals, toxins, solvents, pesticides, and heavy metals, urging cannabis users to check a retailer’s license number at bit.ly/CheckMyVape.
There is also a video that can be downloaded and shared on social media. It asks viewers to check if the cannabis cartridge looks suspicious, if it comes in childproof packaging and if it carries a black or white United Symbol, a batch and lot number, a manufactured date and a packaging date. If not, it warns the viewer to avoid the cartridge.
It has also created a white paper that helps retailers understand the problem of counterfeiting within the cannabis industry. A second white paper educates brand owners on how to combat counterfeiting.
It urges brand owners to obtain trademark registrations, engage with U.S. and Chinese customs officials, submit notice and takedown requests to online platforms selling counterfeit packaging and work with law enforcement officials to shut down unlicensed retailers.
It also encourages its members to provide better education to consumers. A dangerous misconception among uninformed consumers is that price is the only difference between counterfeit and authentic products. It urged the industry to educate people about the dangers of these counterfeits, using some of the tools it has created.
There are at least 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries operating across California and that figure dwarfs the number of legal businesses, according to an audit conducted last month by the United Cannabis Business Association, which represents legal retailers and cultivators.
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