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Adult-use weed may still be prohibited throughout most of the US, but a quick browse through Instagram, Facebook, or Google will still turn up dozens of “businesses” offering a wide variety of THC vape carts for sale. 

If this story sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. Many of these vape carts are illegally produced by shady black market dealers, and what’s worse, some of them are contaminated with toxic pesticides or heavy metals.

Buddah Bear carts are one of many new questionable vaping products that have hit the street recently. In the past three years, Buddah Bear-branded vapes, vape carts, distillate, and THC gummies have popped up in California, Texas, and other states. Like many legal weed products, these vapes come in a wide variety of creatively-named fruit flavors, including Blueberry Razz, Strawnana, and Mango Tango. 

At a quick glance, Buddah Bear carts seem to bear some of the hallmarks of legit products. Beneath the logo, the packages feature California’s standard THC label and warn that the products are “for medical use only.” In the fine print, the packages claim that the products are “lab tested” and are infused with “high quality cannabis distillate.”

A more thorough look at the packaging raises some red flags, though, and quite a few buyers are wondering whether or not these products are legit. And upon closer inspection, it definitely looks like they aren’t.


How Can You Tell If a Vape Cart Is Fake?

There are quite a few telltale signs that a THC vape cart is fake, and most of these are easily visible on the product’s packaging. For one, many of these fake vapes are plastered in cartoony designs, and many riffs on the names, slogans, or logos of major corporations. And while state-legal weed products always contain stickers listing the specific THC values and lab test results of each specific product batch, fake carts will often print THC values directly on the packaging or even omit them altogether.

How Do These Black Market Vape Companies Stay In Business?

Instead of taking the risk of shipping illegal pot products over the country, these shady brands only sell empty, branded packaging and vape carts. Any would-be weed dealer can buy empty vape carts and packaging from one of these companies online, and since the products don’t contain any weed at this stage, it’s relatively risk-free to have them shipped from another state or country. Once the empty carts arrive, the dealer can fill them with cannabis oil – or literally whatever fluid they choose – and put them on the market.


So Is Buddah Bear Legit or Not?

The first tip-off is the fact that the Buddah Bear packaging is covered in cartoon images, just like Mario Carts, Dank Vapes, and loads of other shady products. These products do not actually rip off the logo or name of an existing corporation, though, but a few of them do feature the Skittles “taste the rainbow” slogan. 

The products’ THC information statements are a bigger clue to their suspicious origins. Although some of the packages suggest that they are California-licensed medical marijuana products, none of them bear the state-required stickers listing specific THC contents and lab results. Instead, the carts’ packaging just claims that the packages contain “premium distillate” with an unspecified THC content.

Some of the packaging includes a QR code that links to lab test results. These results do indeed suggest that these products are contaminant-free and packed with THC – but the website also clearly indicates that this test is only “for quality assurance purposes” and is not an official California Compliance Certificate. 

And as a final clue, Buddah Bear does not seem to have any legitimate web presence. Someone has gone to the trouble of registering the domain name, but this site has been “coming soon” since 2018. In contrast, legit weed businesses go to great trouble to create informative websites and social media accounts to help sell their brands.


What’s Wrong with Using Illegal Vape Carts, Anyway?

Unlike legal cannabis businesses, illicit vape cart dealers are not required to test their products for purity, safety, or quality. Independent lab analyses have found that some black market vape carts test positive for heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxic contaminants. When combusted, these unknown chemicals can release hydrogen cyanide or other toxic fumes that could cause short- or long-term lung damage.

In 2019, the US was hit hard by a mysterious vaping-related lung illness that sent thousands of people to the hospital and may have killed over a hundred more. Health officials have conclusively linked most of these cases to illicit THC vapes, and even more specifically to toxic additives added to unregulated vape carts. 

Although this illness seems to have subsided during the pandemic, the dangers of unregulated vapes remain real. To stay safe, it’s best to stick with legal, regulated products, but if you’re stuck in a prohibition state, consider vaping good old-fashioned flower instead of risking your health with sketchy pre-filled vape carts.