In a recent expose, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Amanda Sealy examined the proliferation of the illegal vaping black market. They looked at how unlicensed and illegal stores operate openly in California, how illicit vaporizer cartridges are difficult to differentiate from their legal equivalents, and how these factors place consumers at risk.
Gupta and Sealy do an excellent job discussing how, even in California where recreational cannabis sales are legal, there is a spate of illegal stores openly selling potentially dangerous products that do not undergo rigorous testing required by the state. Further, they noted how these stores often appear as completely legitimate enterprises, misrepresenting themselves to buyers who may not realize that the products they're buying are potentially dangerous.
The article also addresses one of the most serious threats to consumers: the reality that differentiating between a potentially dangerous black-market product and one made legally is growing increasingly difficult. The article quotes Art Kushkyan, founder of Pure, a legal THC vaping product manufacturer which has found illegal copies of its own packaging available for sale online. He stated, "The black market very much looks like a regular market in packaging. It has a name. It has a nice logo. It has colorful packaging."
Kushkyan went on to note that, "It was infuriating to find out that anyone could purchase... packaging and a cartridge that looks like ours, fill it and sell it without us even knowing it. It definitely affects us as a brand. It affects our reputation. It affects our bottom line. But most importantly, it creates a possible danger [to] the public, consuming products that are untested."
This article underscores the need for anti-counterfeiting technology that protects consumers from dangerous substances and allows brands to protect their reputations. The threat from the black market remains real and will likely only grow as additional states legalize recreational cannabis. Fortunately, companies like solo* are ready to combat the threat by providing buyers a way to validate that the products they're buying are legal and legitimate.
The full CNN piece can be found here: https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/24/health/black-market-vapes/index.html