May 01

Real or Counterfeit? How to Avoid Cannabis Product Impostors in LA

Ever since California enacted tough regulations last year that banned pesticides and heavy metals from cannabis products, the counterfeit market has been booming.

How to Avoid Cannabis Product ImpostersCan you tell ream from fake cannabis? The NBC4 I-Team weeds out potentially dangerous pot and which shops to avoid. Investigative reporter Joel Grover reports for NBC4 News on Tuesday, May 1, 2019.(Published Thursday, May 2, 2019)

But it’s not always easy for customers to tell the real thing from a convincing illegal knock-off that could make users sick. Counterfeiters can buy packaging online for items like cannabis cartridges and fill them with cannabis oil that could be contaminated and lead to serious health problems.

So, the NBC4 I-Team did some shopping and found products with familiar names, like Stiiizy, Brass Knuckles and Heavy Hitter, that were actually fake. Some were in packages so convincing, even the people behind the original product had a tough time telling the difference.

A spokesperson for Heavy Hitters didn’t recognize which was which, until she noticed a small hologram seal on the bottom of the real product’s box.

“I didn’t see the holographic tape,” said Heavy Hitters spokesperson Priya Sopori.

That’s a small detail, one that many customers likely wouldn’t notice at first glance. For example, Ruben Young said he thought he was buying Stiiizy cartridges at a Pasadena store for help treating a medical condition.

It turned out, the store wasn’t properly licensed and Young’s product was counterfeit. That dispensary has since shut down.

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