We have covered the black market carts behind the vape illness epidemic so extensively on our site, it seems like fake cartridges would be the only scourge of the vaping community. But in fact, black market knock-offs are a plague no matter what form your cannabis consumption takes. Just because you only vape dry herb doesn’t mean you’re insulated from rip-offs.

Major brands such as G Pen get faked

As an alert little spammer told us in an email he sent in. He conveniently sent us a picture:

a catalogue of fake hardware

…claiming to be selling all these brands. Our guess is that the images were stolen from their respective distributor’s websites. Nevertheless, a little research took us to an Alibaba kiosk with all of the above listed at ridiculous prices. In fact, they have a company profile page that looks like a cross between a telemarketer call center and a very outdated mall head shop:

a Guangdong China counterfeiter

Of course, fake G Pen retailers are on DHGate too:

G Pen knock-offs on DHGate

Potential dangers of counterfeit hardware

In the first place, the real G Pen, i.e. Grenco Science, is a pricey manufacturer of hardware and accessories. Obviously, when you see a price from China that is pennies-on-the-dollar, it should tell you “it’s too good to be true.” Behind the counterfeit seller is either an outright scam, or at the least a poor and cheap imitation.

What would be the danger of counterfeit hardware? For starters, vapes can explode (warning: graphic photos). This vape took out a 17-year-old’s face. This vape exploded and killed a Texas man by slicing his artery. This vape exploded, leaving its Florida user dead with a torn-up face and burns to the body. Both of those last two cases were confirmed to involve home-hacked modifications to the hardware.

These are just a few of the vape and e-cigarette explosions that happen every year. About two thousand reported between 2015-2017 there. We’re pretty sure, just as with the vaping-lung epidemic, that black market hardware could play a part in at least some of these incidents. But regardless, we still have a conclusion about counterfeit hardware:

  • If the exploding vapes were all counterfeit, then counterfeits are dangerous.
  • If the exploding vapes were all legit from a manufacturer, then counterfeits must be even more dangerous.
  • If it was all just home-made mods, then counterfeits must be even worse.

Any form of vaporized consumption of any liquid involves heating liquid to a temperature between 212º – 482ºF (100º – 250º C), using a battery, and then sticking that inches from your face. At the very least, you have to be sure about what you’re doing. Just as with THC oil, cutting corners on the hardware is also hazardous in ways most of us probably didn’t expect.

BPAs and heavy metals

Notwithstanding modded hardware, counterfeit hardware could also have problem areas with heavy metals. Even some legit, above-the-table manufacturers test dirty for heavy metal contamination. Clearly, hardware produced under less rigorous standards can have even more risk.

Cheap plastics can be another problem, when you get down to BPAs. Bisphenol A is a polymer precursor which is commonly used in the plastics industry. It has raised some alarm recently with health concerns, implicating a possible connection to thyroid function, cancer, asthma, and sexual dysfunctions.

More companies should fight back

Juul, the leading market brand for nicotine e-cigarettes, has entered lawsuits against a whole 30 entities in China for knocking off their brand. Juul itself is also finding itself the recent target of legal action about the safety of their products, to which we’d have to ask: Are all those people sure they bought a legit, legal, certified product?

The Wall Street Journal asks just this kind of question, in this very well-researched news segment:

The thing is, current lack of standardized laws in the United States is making it impossible to prosecute bootleg vaping gear, regulate health standards, or even help cannabis companies protect their patents and trademarks. The only recourse is for these companies to take litigation into their own hands.

Are we raising enough of a fuss about this issue? The message sure doesn’t seem to penetrate to the lawmaker layer much.

Have you encountered rip-off hardware in the wild?

As always, we thank you readers in advance for any information you could share with us. We’re all ears in the comments below or our forum.


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