Brand Piracy in the Cannabis Market Should Be No Surprise


Brand piracy is a global phenomenon. Pirates make all sorts of counterfeit products and sell them on the black market. Everything from Gucci handbags to counterfeit Apple products abound. But guess what? Brand piracy has now made its way to the cannabis market. No one should be surprised.

Once the states started treating marijuana and industrial hemp as standard retail products, it was only a matter of time before the piracy began. And now that the pirates are in full operation, it is like one big adventure on the high seas. No legit product is safe from counterfeiters with absolutely no shame.

  • Delta-8 Infused Cheetos

The Leafly website ran a story a few weeks ago discussing brand piracy in the cannabis market. One of the examples they cited was a company selling bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos that were supposedly infused with Delta-8 THC. The seller went as far as to pirate a label from a legal Arizona company that sells Delta-8 products and stick it on their snacks.

First and foremost, the Arizona company is not licensed to sell outside of the state. So there’s no way the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, which were purchased in Oxnard, CA, were legit. But there’s more. It is quite possible that the seller just went to his local Sam’s Club or Costco and bought boxes of the snack, then did nothing but slap a pirated label on them before offering them for sale.

Were the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos actually infused with Delta-8? The only way to know for sure would be to test them. That is not something consumers do. Those who choose to use Delta-8 THC via an edible product just buy an infused food, open their mouths, and started eating. This is a problem.

  • Piracy in an Unregulated Market

The issue here is about much more than just pirated logos and potential trademark infringements. We are talking about piracy in a market that is highly unregulated. That market is not medical cannabis or regulated recreational use. It is the CBD market.

Industrial hemp was made legal in this country by the 2018 farm bill. Since then, all sorts of CBD products have hit the market. No one regulates them. As long as manufacturers guarantee that CBD products contain no more than 0.3% Delta-9 THC by volume, they are good to go. They can put all the Delta-8 in there they want. It doesn’t matter.

Manufacturers also don’t have to be up front about hemp sourcing or manufacturing processes. They essentially have license to do whatever they want. Such freedom does not exist in a tightly controlled medical market – like what you find in Utah.

  • Testimony, Certification, and Labeling

Beehive Farmacy, a medical cannabis pharmacy with locations in Salt Lake City and Brigham City, says that Utah’s law is very restrictive. All medical cannabis products must be tested, certified, and properly labeled. Patients buying medical cannabis from a licensed Utah pharmacy know exactly what they are getting with every purchase.

Of course, this does not stop CBD retailers from selling products with Delta-8 THC. People who want access to the drug without getting a state medical cannabis card can do so. They can also be ripped off by pirates selling products that may, or may not, contain Delta-8 THC.

The piracy problem is not limited just to Delta-8 and CBD products. It applies to all sorts of hemp and marijuana products sold in CBD shops and marijuana dispensaries across the country. Until Washington and the states get serious about regulation, the piracy will continue. That is good for neither legitimate companies nor consumers.