Updated: Sep 17, 2021
Copycat hemp products mean buying from reputable stores is important as ever.
A scan through the hemp headlines any given week brings an important reminder: the unregulated status of hemp products, including CBD and delta-8 THC, leaves consumers vulnerable to scams. And buying from reputable stores with legitimate test results, real addresses and contact information remains as important as ever.
Buyer beware: shady companies are stealing logos of reputable brands
Leafly reports that “Delta-8 pirates are scamming consumers and legit brands—and the feds don’t care.”
After Leafly’s cannabis-focused news team wrote about a couple of shady delta-8 THC edibles they found in a California smoke shop, a reputable cannabis company from Arizona got in touch to say one of the product photos showed a pirated version of their logo. An unscrupulous, difficult-to-track company had apparently printed the logo, sans permission, on stickers.
This isn't just a problem for the company. It's a problem for customers who can't be certain which products to trust.
It’s been impossible to get trademark protection thus far
The real Delta-8 Oils doesn’t make edibles, and they only sell in Arizona. But they don’t have much legal leverage to stop the logo pirates. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office isn’t issuing trademarks for cannabis businesses, including those selling delta-8 THC.
Same goes for CBD. As Marijuana Moment recently reported, “New Ruling In CBD Trademarking Case Highlights Challenges Of FDA’s Rulemaking Delays.”
A company selling CBD-infused teas was denied an “intent to use” trademark in May. They appealed, but in the recently-announced decision the denial was upheld because hemp remains unregulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
“While hemp-derived cannabidiol was legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board said it remains illicit to sell as a beverage under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act because FDA still hasn’t issued rules allowing it, and, therefore, the application couldn’t be granted,” Kyle Jaeger wrote for Marijuana Moment.
And then there are straight-up scammers
The latest example of a tried-and-true scam, the Guardian has reported, “Scammers hijack Maggie Beer’s image to peddle hemp gummies and CBD oil.”
Australian celebrity chef Maggie Beer’s image and name are being used without permission to sell hemp gummies and CBD oil. In addition to false hemp claims made by the unscrupulous sellers, some customers have been charged more than the advertised, agreed-upon amount.
The Better Business Bureau warned consumers of this type of scam in April, saying it had “received dozens of reports from frustrated consumers who thought they signed up for a free trial offer but ended up getting billed for hundreds of dollars."
Cannabis consumers must be savvy, and buy from reputable retailers
Lack of regulation in the hemp industry is making it more difficult to tell which companies are reputable and which are putting the people buying hemp products at risk.
Consumers have no easy way to tell whether the CBD and delta-8 products they’re buying are safely sourced or effective. It's a realm with high-quality products alongside poor imitations, scams and misleading advertising. Unfortunately, illegitimate products have all but certainly disappointed and turned off people who could have otherwise benefitted from cannabinoids and delta-8.
How to find high-quality products:
Look for retailers and brands that are transparent about sourcing and test results.
Before you buy, research the company online.
Look for reviews or check the business's Better Business Bureau rating and see if there are any alerts.
Does the business have a legitimate address? Contact information?
Be prepared to do a little digging to verify if the claims they make are true — fake lab results often bear traces of photo editing, or don’t match the name of the brand you’re trying to look up.
If you’re buying from a reputable retailer, they’ve likely researched the brands they carry. Talk to the store clerks or call to see what they know. (If they seem uncertain or underinformed, look elsewhere.)