In one of the more amazing displays of branding power built on hype, it is now public knowledge through the “vape epidemic” that two popular fake vapes brands, “Dank Vapes” and “Chronic Carts”, are in fact not real brands but DIY “brands” built from kits.
They’re basically “China Town brands”, brands never registered in the USA which have nevertheless become popular brands in the marijuana vaping niche.
I have occasionally dropped in comments here on Smoke that, personally, while I may have done many different substances in life, I’m just not crazy enough to go to Alibaba.com and order vapes which would reach me here in our prohibition nation. Because I wouldn’t necessarily trust the concentrate and cutting agents used in those brands.
With all the news surrounding the health problems created by fake vapes in recent months, that “origins story” has now been confirmed by more investigative journalists as well.
But, it’s slightly more complex than just that. All while being more interesting a story too.
You can indeed easily order your “Brass Knuckles” vapes on Alibaba for USD1.10-1.45 only — no need to order them from a spammer on Smoke.io — the story of the unhealthy fake vapes is much more interesting, as highlighted by a team over at Leafly.
As expected, vapes and all their components — both hardware and liquids required — can be ordered wholesale from China and are then shipped to the wholesale district in LA.
Anybody who has visited larger China Towns, or wholesale districts, may have noticed that these districts have multiple “sub-districts”, all selling specific product niches. The vaping market apparently has reached such substantial size that there is an own sub-district for it already as well.
In it, you find everything vaping related. This obviously goes from fake first class imitations, undoubtedly also purchased via Alibaba and Co like this SMOK NORD vape pen, to the whole range of hardware components for vaping hipsters geeks and liquid ingredients.
Within 3 minutes only I had located following products on Alibaba, all available via a simple online order system and payable via credit card.
For few hundreds bucks, I would have most elements required to start my own brand.
Only thing missing now would be a “brand”, a brand which I can then promote via Smoke.io, and [fake] reviews on Leafly, Weedmaps, and the usual other online cannabis communities. Reviews which I can order for few pennies each on mTurk, oDesk, or any other “freelancer” platform.
All needed next is a branded packaging kit. Of course, anybody in those industries knows they are not that hard to procure either. Go to the right merchant and they will design you your brand for few bucks only. Alternatively you could start your brand design on Fiverr or on CanWork, if you have some ETH.
If you are imitating an already existing brand… not a problem either. It’s easier to replicate branded boxes than to design them from scratch.
That’s how to make your own fake vapes brand.
That’s how, fed by prohibition [fake] brands have come to promote themselves over the internet in recent years. Helped both by fake reviews and legislation popularizing the vaping trend.
Note the specifically selected order of terms in last two sentences: first prohibition, only then legislation. Again, #ProhibitionKills.
Prohibition kills, because who knows what chemical reaction cutting agents or so-called “terpenes”, offered at rates which would make any grower snort, cause when combined. Or whether they are actually what it says on the pack and are indeed “FDA approved” as so many products claim.
Living in a nation where Class A fakes are part and parcel of daily life the whole uncovered account doesn’t surprise me. In fact, I was fully aware of its possibility. What surprised me though was how stricter legislation in California, complete with pesticide testing, allowed these fake vapes to flood the market in NYC, where no pesticide testing is implemented yet, and high tax rates on medical marijuana allowed the fake brands to exponentially grow.
Head over to Leafly to read the full account (24 min read according to Instapaper) of North America’s illicit vape market. Alternatively, listen to the most recent episode of the Roll Up podcast.
Leadpic photo credit: Photo Courtesy New York State Department of Health
This post was first submitted to and published on the Smoke blockchain.