California Cannabis Brands Fight Back Against Counterfeit Operators

cannabis brandingCounterfeits keen to take a piece of the Californian marijuana market share are increasingly targeting cannabis product brands. And the cannabis vaping boom that has swept the marijuana landscape was soon followed by a spate of knock offs. Particularly concerning to big brand vape pen manufacturers including Kingpen, Heavy Hitters and Connected Cannabis Co., is that it’s very hard to discern between real and counterfeit products.

Imitation vape pens are not only hurting brand profits, they’re also sending consumers to the hospital. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently noted “anyone who uses e-cigarette products should not buy these products off the street.” That’s because this year alone, several people have been hospitalized suffering from severe respiratory distress after using bootleg vape pens bought from illegal dispensaries, in California and across the Midwest.

Experts believe there are a number of ways cannabis companies can work to protect their products and brands from counterfeits, such as:

  • Securing legal trademarks for all products and brand names – this should be every brand or manufacturer’s first step in defense against knock offs.
  • Closely auditing the product development supply chain – double checking each stage from seed to store may unveil leaks in the chain.
  • Aggressively pursuing counterfeits in court – once a trademark has been established, then law enforcement has jurisdiction to go after the counterfeiters.
  • Investing in hard-to-replicate product packaging – companies like California-based AuthentiBrand, develop a number of unique authentication solutions, such as custom made holograms, to help brands block bootlegs.

If you need help securing a cannabis product trademark, issuing cease and desist letters, or pursuing counterfeits in court, our Southern California marijuana business attorneys are here for you.

New Technologies Can Give Consumers Piece of Mind
Another new tool brands and retailers are using to offer consumers a heads up on subpar cannabis products, is an online marijuana community called Weedmaps. There, users can review and discuss cannabis strains, as well as local marijuana dispensaries. To date, Weedmaps has helped prevent more than 15,000 unverified cannabis products from making their way into the hands of unknowing consumers.

Weedmaps for Retailers
Retailers can demonstrate their legitimacy for consumers by gaining a Weedmaps Verified seal on their profile. To do so, retailers must first upload a menu of brand items to their Weedmaps store listing, and request a verification from each brand to confirm they are authorized partners. Once a brand accepts the retailer’s request, the retailer’s profile page receives:

  • A Weedmaps Verified seal on their listing;
  • Official, brand developed product information and images, posted to their listing; and
  • Verified placement on product and store locator maps.

To help consumers determine where they can purchase regulated, safe marijuana products, Weedmaps allows users to filter cannabis store locator maps by brand, and choose to view only cannabis products that carry the Weedmaps Verified label. By highlighting the quality of products retailers are selling in their stores, this simple process helps legitimate cannabis business owners win back consumer trust.

Weedmaps for Brands
To help weed out illegal cannabis outfits and unregulated products, a brand’s profile page on Weedmaps will only show retailers who have been authorized as verified partners. Brands are also free to reject retailer requests for partner authorizations, as they see fit. That means, unlicensed dispensaries and counterfeit goods will not receive verification icons, nor will they appear on brand pages. Effectively helping to inform consumers about where to buy cannabis safely, and disrupting the sale of unsafe products.

Legal Implications
So many unregulated cannabis markets across the United States offer perfect conditions for counterfeits to emerge. Given the scale and sophistication of bootlegging we’ve seen to date, cannabis brands must act quickly and take proactive steps to thwart the assembly, and sale, of knock off products, if they are to aid consumer safety, maintain customer trust and defend their market share.

About Cannabis Law Group

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers dispensaries, ancillary companies, patients and those facing criminal marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Emergency Preparedness and Response
Weedmaps

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