Fraser Horton
Fraser Horton
Last Updated on October 5, 2021

As the cannabis community grows daily, cannabis consumers are trying different marijuana consumption methods, as well as a variety of cannabis products. And so the era of vape pens begins. But can vaping cause long-term health effects for users?

Vaping is a relatively new smoking method that started with the launch of e-cigarettes in the 2000s and has been all the rage in recent years. As more and more people are trying vaping, research is done as to how it can affect users after 380 people got ill and 6 died across the US from vaping cannabis or e-cigarettes which might have been fake. The CDC has issued information about how vaping might be associated with lung illness, and how vape cartridges might not be safe.

So how can you tell whether your THC or CBD vaporizer cartridge is safe to use or whether you’ve bought counterfeit vape cartridges? Read on to find out.

Vape Pens and THC Vape Cartridges

Vape pens are the newest method of consuming cannabis oils, THC concentrates, and distillates. They consist of two parts – the battery, and the vape cartridge which contains the cannabis concentrate.

The chamber of the vape carts contains high-quality concentrate oils filled with THC (generally over 70%) or CBD. Apart from the THC or CBD, the liquid inside the cartridge contains other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes that come from organically grown marijuana or hemp. These types of THC cartridges, sold by licensed retailers and licensed dispensaries, don’t contain additives like toxins, heavy metals, pesticides, or insecticides, unlike the fake products.

Fake Vape Cartridges and How to Spot Them

The Brand

When looking if your vape cartridges are fake thc carts or the real deal, first you must think about where you bought them. Vape carts bought from licensed dispensaries are your best bet if you’re buying in legal states and provinces. In states where cannabis is legal, like Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and others, it’s fairly easy to find the real deal.

Although if weed is not legal in your country, you’ll need to be more careful. To make sure you’re not buying counterfeit vape cartridges, buy a recognizable legal cannabis brand, such as Connected Cannabis Co, Heavy Hitters, and Kingpen.

Cannabis industry professionals and testing lab experts warn that when buying on the black market, a lot of fake companies use similar branding, logos, and packaging as some of the legitimate producers, so it’s difficult for the average consumer to tell if they’re buying knock-offs or not. Check social media and the internet to see if the brand you’re thinking of buying might be fake.

The Price 

Another thing to check for is the price of your product, if it looks like it’s too low, it’s probably fake. Cannabis concentrate prices go for around $50 per gram of concentrate, and with the added tax, it might get to around $80 per gram for real vape cartridges depending on the country where you’re buying it. So if you’re paying less than that, you’ve almost certainly been scammed. 

The Packaging

While legal markets may be your best bet, some countries haven’t legalized marijuana yet. If you believe that the cartridge may be fake, you should always check the product packaging

The label should display:

  • The manufacturing date
  • The packaging date
  • The batch number
  • The lot number

If the label doesn’t match the required standards, it might be from an illicit manufacturer. It’s a good option to check for manufacturer stamps, the unique brand markings, and if the brand has a QR code, make sure you scan it to verify if it’s part of the regulated market.

If you’re buying in California, you can check the Bureau of Cannabis Control website to see if the store is a registered retailer. You can also look for an online store finder that can locate all the licensed dispensaries around you.

The Lab Results

If the brand you’re buying from is licensed, you can ask your budtender to give you a certificate of analysis (COA) which will contain the lab test results that the brand has provided retailers with. And while some illicit market brands might fake the lab results, you could always check with the lab to find out if the results are real.

You should also check for any red flags on the results. Are the THC percentages on the test results particularly low? Are they exceptionally high with THC contents as high as 99.9%? Cannabis industry professionals say that vape cartridges below 60% are likely mixed with other materials.

The Ingredients

Vape cartridges are sometimes mixed with cutting agents in order to make it easier for users to vape them, or to enhance the intensity of the vapor cloud. The most commonly used cutting agents include:

  • Propylene glycol (PG) is used in vape cartridges so the cartridge can maintain even vape draws.
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is an ingredient commonly added in vape liquids to keep the product evenly mixed.
  • Vegetable glycerin (VG) is added to vape cartridges so large vape clouds would appear while vaping.
  • Vitamin E acetate (tocopheryl-acetate), may be found in thickening agents in illicit THC cartridges. Even though it’s generally a safe additive when it’s placed in food, it’s not certain if it’s healthy to vape.

Public health officials have concerns for some of these agents as they may cause certain vaping related illnesses, although further studies need to be done in order to reach more specific conclusions.

Final Thoughts on Fake Cannabis Vape Cartridges

Depending on the laws in your country, you may or may not have access to legal cannabis dispensaries. While cannabis industry professionals advise getting cannabis from the legal market and legal dispensaries because of the rigorous testing required by the state, sometimes that’s not possible.

To be on the safe side, make sure that you’re buying a high-quality product bought from reputable cannabis brands, check the labeling and the THC contents, and make sure you’re paying a reasonable price. That way you can be certain that your product doesn’t contain any pesticides, heavy metals, or other contaminants.

Also, if you want to play it extra safe, stay away from vaping and maybe try other cannabis products and methods of consumption. Rosin and live resin generally aren’t processed with harsh chemicals, so you could always try them instead of vaping. Another option would be to go back to the cannabis flower and smoke it in a joint or make edibles from it.


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