CBD Vape

How to Spot a Fake CBD Vape Cartridge

The evolution of vape regulation has seen the industry grow and get safer for consumers year after year. 2019 was a terrible year for the vape industry, but legalities have now been set in place, and our knowledge of the industry is so much more advanced than it was then that fake carts have become much less common.

The risk of running into a fake cart is still present, and knowing how to spot and avoid one could come in handy.

That is what you’ll be learning to do in the article below; Taking the main steps necessary to avoid purchasing a fake and the red flags you could run into and want to keep an eye out for.


Why Are There Fake Cartridges?

Tips to Spot Fake Cartridges

Red Flags You Should Watch Out For

Vape Alternatives


Why Are There Fake Cartridges?

Fakes and counterfeits are mostly found among disposable vape pens that claim to be the real thing. These often come from China, where quality control is not the best, and the products themselves are also very easy and cheap to produce.

Side Note:

I worked in China in a factory for a different industry, but I feel like the experience must be replicable for production in general. Some factories have excellent quality control, but the smaller, less expensive manufacturers to work with don’t usually have the resources to execute a high-level quality control process.

This phenomenon is not exclusive to the cannabis industry. The same thing happens with all vape products, and business people will often buy products from the factories that offer the lowest prices without really thinking about quality control.

While single, pre-filled cart fakes are not as common, you could run into one. That’s why it is so important to know how to spot them.

Which is, ironically, a cause of why there are fakes in the market. If the consumer is not adequately informed and trained to spot counterfeits, it will be easier for criminals to flood the market.

As for CBD fake cartridges specifically:

One of the most important reasons for their prevalence in past years was that regulation was not present. The industry has now had the chance to evolve in knowledge and law. In 2018, the farm bill passed.

Regulated industry is safer because it builds entry barriers to the industry. It leaves only those companies that are doing things correctly.

Tips to Spot Fake Cartridges

Tips to Spot Fake Cartridges

Now that there are regulations in place, it’s getting harder and harder to spot fake cartridges in the market. But regulations are not the only preventive measures that we have in our favor.

Dispensaries and licensed retailers are also into the habit of setting their quality standards and curating the selection of products they carry. Hemmfy is an excellent example of that.

However, we don’t always have the option of purchasing your vape juice from licensed retailers like Hemmfy or dispensaries. Maybe you’re on a business trip somewhere your favorite retailer doesn’t ship to or perhaps somewhere where CBD is harder to get a hold of (from licensed stores) than in the U.S. 

If so, you want to make sure that your fake cartridge spotting game is the best it can be. These are the tips we recommend using to avoid counterfeit cartridges.

 1. Purchase Licensed Products

Making CBD a legal product is a massive part of why cartridges are safer than they were a few years ago. Purchasing a licensed product will hold non-compliant companies accountable if they are distributing fake products in the marketplace.

The first step to playing it safe with products is to buy from licensed retailers. Everything else from there on out is a bonus, and we strongly recommend never purchasing vape products from unlicensed sellers.

But if there’s a way to distribute a fake product, then there’s a way around licenses as well. So make sure you always check the license number of the retailer you are purchasing from.

If you want to play it even safer, you can do so by signing up for a medical cannabis program to ensure every product you purchase is original.

2. Check the Packaging

The packaging of a product could tell us a lot about the item. Things you want to watch out for include spelling mistakes and copyright infringement (i.d. Fruit Loops Flavored Carts). You also want to make sure that the packaging includes the manufacturing date, packaging date, batch number, and lot number.

3. Compare With the Real Thing

As discussed above, illegal manufacturers don’t just put out products that don’t comply with legal regulations. They are actively looking to copy reliable brands so that unsuspecting consumers like yourself won’t dare to look twice at the packaging. The best way to spot these copycats is by making a side-by-side comparison with the actual product.

Another way to spot copycats is to look for state-mandated icons and manufacturer stamps on the packaging and product. Some brands will even go as far as providing QR codes you can scan to check for authenticity.

4. Checkout the Ingredient List

Back in 2019, the vaping industry and consumers took a massive hit because of fake cartridges. Many people grew sick due to cutting agents being used in counterfeit carts. The primary cutting agent doing the damage was identified at that time as Vitamin E Acetate.

An actual CBD cartridge will have an ingredient list to go with it, and if they are a serious company, it will not have Vitamin E Acetate. Other diluents may also be harmful, but Vitamin E Acetate is probably a giant red flag.

5. Check for Serial Number

Manufacturers will include a serial number, almost always directly on the product. Make sure the product has a serial number to go with it, and in some cases, you'll also be able to track that number directly on the brand's website. If not, you can always email the manufacturer and check for the product's authenticity that way.

6. Purchase Trusted Brands

By now, it must be obvious why this step is only at number 6; copycats. However, it is not a hard thing to do, and you might as well do it. Purchasing products from trusted brands are ultimately safer and could also mean consuming higher quality products in general.

 7. Check for Lab Results

The certificate of analysis (COA) is a legal lab results document that lists all the ingredients found in your purchasing product. Not all vape cartridges have one, but serious brands & manufacturers do. Once you get a hold of your product’s COA, you’ll have to check for heavy metals, residual solvents, and synthetic components.

Another telltale sign of a lousy product is if the COA does not call out the exact content quantities that the product packaging does.

Red Flags You Should Watch Out For

The above list is the preventive steps you should take when purchasing CBD carts. The items below are the main differences between fake cartridges vs. actual carts.

Red Flags You Should Watch Out For

 1. THC or CBD content quantity seems sketchy

Cannabinoid content in your cart that seems too low or too high is a red flag. You’ll know what to expect by taking a look at the brand’s website and looking up what the CBD content of the actual product should be.

2. Chemical odors release during the stress test

You conduct a stress test on your product by turning on the battery and letting it deplete without inhaling through the mouthpiece. Just let the product sit there, and if any chemical smells come out after 15 or 20 minutes, you might want to take steps to confirm the authenticity of your product.

3. Battery Life is not as it should be

If you’re using a disposable pen, battery life is an essential quality factor. Battery life may also become a red flag in terms of product authenticity if the battery is depleting a lot faster than the manufacturer says it should.

Vape Alternatives

If CBD Vaping sounds too complicated, there’s always the option of making things more simple. Smoking dry hemp is the first option for many, but if you’re looking to vape, then it probably means you want to stay away from inhaling combusted flower. In that case, you also have the option of vaporizing dry herb.

A vaporizer is a device that heats ground hemp flower to where the material is not being combusted, but the trichomes that sit on its leaves are vaporized. The vapor created by the vaporizer can then be inhaled as if you were smoking.


Fake cartridges are a considerable nuisance, even more so when the industry was not regulated strictly enough. Today counterfeit cartridges are much less prevalent, with dispensaries and licensed retailers doing their job well and weeding them out of the market. But there might be a few bad apples that make it through the filters now and then. That’s why we need to know how to avoid purchasing a fake CBD cartridge and what red flags to keep an eye out for. But if that’s not something you feel like doing, going with an alternative to CBD vape products is always a valid option as well.

Hemmfy articles and blogs are meant to entertain and educate. However, we are not medical professionals and do not intend to give medical advice through them.

The knowledge around CBD and other cannabis-derived products is growing and constantly changing, as does their legal status. Hence, we recommend checking with your local authorities and a licensed physician prior to consumption.

Simon Cartagena

Simon Cartagena is a full-time cannabis copywriter. This has led him to write for companies like Hemmfy.com where he acts as Senior Content Writer and other world-renowned cannabis publications. Simon has created Content Marketing strategies and articles that have helped company revenues increase by up to 1,000%. Simon’s goal is to help people understand cannabis in an industry where misinformation seems to be predominant.