Burdensome and irksome, arbitrary and protectionist, the many webbed network of laws governing commercial cannabis in California are there for at least one reason even hardcore libertarians should grudgingly appreciate: They are meant to prevent consumers from purchasing knock-off products that have the potential to do them harm. This is noble and good.
There is absolutely an argument to be made in favor of unlicensed cannabis dispensaries, of the kind proliferating like wildflowers in Southern California, sometimes it’s too expensive or too onerous to obtain a license; sometimes licensing requirements lock out people of color or working-class people from the cannabis industry. But selling knock-off cannabis products rife with pesticides or lead, as some unlicensed cannabis dispensaries were recently caught doing, makes that case much more difficult to build.
Los Angeles-based NBC4 sent its I-Team around to some of the dispensaries that lack licenses from the state but are nonetheless selling cannabis. They bought products that appeared to be well-known brands and thus if not trustworthy, at least accountable —you know who to find if something goes wrong — but which turned out to be frauds, sometimes in very convincing fake packaging.
Faked products included vaporizer cartridges from Stiizy, Brass Knuckles, and Heavy Hitters, according to NBC, which brought the cartridges to a state-certified testing lab to see what was in them. Nothing good: “All had large amounts of dangerous pesticides, banned by the state” for use on cannabis. Another cartridge also had high levels of lead, a dangerous heavy metal that is a known neurotoxin.
Ersatz or outright bammer product has been an issue in the weed world from the beginning, though a new frequency (or new low) has emerged since legalization led to commercialization. Fake Mothership glass available on Dhgate has given way to fake Firefly and Firefly 2s on eBay. At