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How To Spot A Fake THC Or CBD Vape Cartridge

There’s a big problem out there when it comes to CBD and THC carts. How do you tell if you’ve got dangerous fake carts or real CBD carts? 

The most important thing that you can do for finding real, reliable CBD and THC carts is to shop from a safe and legal retailer. You should also inspect the packaging for batch numbers, manufacturing and packaging dates, and clearly stated information about the contents of the cart. There is a lot more that goes into being able to spot fake carts, and you need to know the difference. 

You need to know how to spot fake CBD vape pens and carts. It could have a big impact on your health. Here’s how you spot the difference. 

THC & CBD Carts—What to Look For

We’re starting off with the important stuff: What you want to buy—and what you don’t! 

These are going to be the biggest tells when it comes to fake CBD carts. If you see any of these signs of a fake THC cart, don’t make the sale and try a different retailer.

THC and CBD carts have gotten incredibly popular. They’re also in a little bit of a weird legal position. These carts are legal in certain states, but not others. While CBD is legal on the federal level, THC is not legal on the federal level.

This creates a lot of problems for us as consumers and people who enjoy cannabis products. It even creates problems for people who rely on THC and CBD for medicinal benefits.

Sure, there are a lot of day-to-day nuisances caused by these legal irregularities. However, the single biggest downside is that there is no consistency in product quality and the market is flooded with risky counterfeits.

Let’s start with spotting the fakes and then show you what to look for legit CBD cards. 

How to Spot Fake THC Carts 

There’s a couple major tells that you need to look for when it comes to spotting a fake THC cartridge.

The first thing that you need to look for is the legal requirements that your state mandates on cannabis packaging. This can include a THC content warning sign, information about contacting the retailer or manufacturer, and information that allows you to identify the product including lot numbers, batch numbers, and packaging and manufacturing dates.

You also need to be a savvy consumer. This is a lot like being able to spot a knockoff watch or handbag.

Fake THC carts often try to look like the big-name brands. However, they often mess up the graphic design and branding of the companies they are trying to copy. If the cart looks a little suspicious, it probably is.

Those are the quick guides for spotting a fake, but we’re going to get into more detail later in this article about common scams that knockoff vape cartridge companies use.

How to Shop for Safe CBD Carts

Now that you know how to spot a fake, how do you shop for a safe CBD cart?

The best thing that you can do is to always shop from a legal, licensed CBD or cannabis retailer. These companies have to go through a lot of certification to get their legal dispensary status and that means that they’re also more vested in selling reliable and safe products.

You also want to stick to big name brands. If you’re really worried about getting a fake cart, stick with companies that have a well-established reputation for consistency and quality.

Don’t be afraid to talk to the budtenders at your local dispensary. If you’re new to the legal cannabis market, new to vaping, or just want to get a sense of the brands that are out there, they are some of the most educated people that you can speak with.

This is especially important if you’re new to vaping. There’s nothing wrong with asking a budtender or vape shop employee questions about product quality and reliability. They can tell you what the big-name brands are as well as what you need to look for.

They can also help you shop for the gear you need to get set up. This is a great way to skip all of the shady information you can find and go right to the source. 

The same goes for buying online. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the company you’re shopping with to get some information about their products and product quality. 

Safe CBD and THC Carts Have These Five Traits 

We’re going to go through a quick rundown of all of the things that you’ll find on most safe CBD and THC carts. These are five traits that are going to appear on pretty much every safe and legal cartridge out there.

If you look into Vape safely, this is what you want to see.

  • State-mandated stamps, information, and other markings
  • Product identifiers like what numbers and batch numbers
  • Many manufacturers also include contact information like a QR code, phone number, or website
  • The cartridge should have a realistic THC concentration rather than extremely low or extremely high numbers
  • Your cartridge should have a price that reflects the brand your shopping with rather than being suspiciously cheap 

What Out for Clones!

Did you know that you can buy empty vape cartridges? It’s actually incredibly cheap to buy brand-name, empty vape cartridges. This creates a major problem for people looking to buy legit CBD vapes: clones.

If you’ve been in the cannabis world for a while, you probably have a good opinion about clones. This is how a lot of cannabis plants are reproduced, and it ensures quality and high-end smoke ability from our beloved buds.

However, things are just the opposite in the world of vapes. Here a clone means a cartridge that’s a knockoff of a name brand.

You always want to make sure you take a good look at your cartridge when you make your purchase. Clones are getting more common, and they’re even sneaking into the legal market by getting mixed up with the real deal.

Clones are not made of the same rigorous standards that real THC carts are. You can’t be certain what they actually contain, how much THC is in the cart, or if there were any potentially harmful chemicals left over from the manufacturing process.

Ingredients Matter for CBD Carts

The ingredients in your CBD cart also matter. Real cartridges are going to have consistent ingredients. They might not be entirely healthy, but at least you’re able to know what you’re inhaling when you vape from a real cartridge.

Knockoffs have a grab bag of ingredients that there’s no way to trace. They don’t go through third-party, laboratory testing, and they definitely don’t have the same kind of product consistency, but you got from a name brand.

There’s been a wave of vaping related illness in the United States. Researchers aren’t yet sure what’s causing this, but it could be a new wave of dilutant, including vitamin E oils, that have been added to vaping cartridges. This makes it more important than ever to shop legit when you’re buying your vapes.

How To Spot A Fake THC Or CBD Vape Cartridge

What’s in a (Brand) Name?

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of buying from bigger names when it comes to your Vape cartridges, but why is this?

There are a few important things that you want to check for the big-name brands by default.

Their cannabis products are going to be third-party tested by an independent laboratory. This lab gives back a report that lists all of the ingredients in these cartridges. You should be able to get access to a copy of that lab report to find out exactly what is in your vape products.

These companies are also going to use high quality ingredients. You might have to pay a little more, but your vapes aren’t being cut by weird additives that could be causing dangerous illnesses.

Larger brands also have the reputation to defend. Whether we’re talking about the big national vape brands or your local sensations, these companies live and die by their reputations in the vaping community.

This means that they have some incentive to put the best products out there rather than putting out inconsistent, dangerous products like you find with knock offs and clones.

Science Doesn’t Lie

You know those third party lab tests we’ve been talking about? You can actually get a hold of the information that those labs report for your favorite cannabis and CBD vape brands.

All you need to do is reach out to your retailer and ask for the COA for your favorite products. 

The COA is the Certificate of Analysis that a laboratory creates after analyzing a cannabis product. This will tell you the chemical composition of what’s inside of the vape cartridge as well as information about CBD and THC concentration.

Budtenders, retailers, and manufacturers should all have access to the COA for their products. They should also be willing to provide you with this information when you’re making your purchase.

You can save everyone a little hassle by asking for the COA ahead of time. You can call ahead to your local dispensary or send an email to your favorite online shop to pick up a COA and see exactly what’s going on in the vape products you’re looking to buy.

We should mention that fake COA documents have been popping up. These are made in Photoshop, but they often look really clumsy.

In the same way that clones cheaply Photoshop their packaging to look like the real brand, fake COA documents have a lot of the same problems. They’ll be missing contact information, be outdated, or have clear signs of being manipulated in Photoshop.

Does It Seem Suspicious? 

One of the best things that you can do for yourself is to always trust your gut when it comes to shopping for CBD vape cartridges.

Does something feel off about the packaging on your favorite cartridge? Sure, it might be nothing, but what if you’re picking up on something suspicious?

You might be noticing subtle details that your conscious mind can’t quite identify. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to shopping for real CBD carts. You should switch up and get a different product if you feel that something is off with your usual purchase.

Take a Break with a Safer Alternative 

We’re in a bit of an interesting moment when it comes to CBD vape cartridges and THC carts. There’s a flood of counterfeits on the market as well as a sudden rise in vaping related illnesses. This means it might be a good time to take a break with a safe alternative to vaping.

There are more products out there than ever when it comes to CBD and cannabis. You have your choice of different ways of enjoying these cannabinoids.

If you were a little bit worried about the state of vaping, why not try something different. Rosin, live rosin, and cannabis flower, and I’ll give you a similar experience to vaping, but without these new risks. 

You can also try CBD or THC oil. Edibles are also a great option for people who are looking to put their vaping on pause.

One of the byproducts of the increasing the legality of THC and CBD products is that the gray market is thriving. There’s a lot to say about the gray market and the fight for legalization, but we’re going to focus on buying safer products.

If you’re looking to maximize your safety, the best thing you can do is to buy from legal dispensaries and retailers.  It’s tempting to save a buck while you’re shopping, but is that really worth your health and safety?

Spotting Fake CBD Vape Pens—A Quick Summary 

Let’s do a quick rundown of everything we learned about shopping for CBD vape pens and legit carts.

You want to make sure that the packaging looks accurate and reflects the brand that you are used to shopping for. You should look for batch and lot numbers as well as packing dates. Also check for accurate THC percentages rather than ones that are suspiciously high or low. 

The single best thing you can do is to shop from legal and reliable retailers to make sure that you always get the products that you’re looking for rather than a knockoff.

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Jules Martinez
Jules Martinez
Jules Martinez, co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of our vaping site, brings a decade of expertise in vaping, CBD, and cannabis. His comprehensive knowledge and editorial rigor ensure high-quality, accurate content, positioning us as a trusted resource in the community.
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