One of the worst parts about being an internationally respected cannabis brand? The fakes.
The further you climb toward the mountaintop, the more people are going to pretend they’re selling your product or just flat-out use the reputation you’ve built with heat and flame to rob others. On a positive note, if you’re at the point people are copying you, then you’ll probably make it through the dumpster fire that California cannabis is in.
Here in L.A., where much of the weed people are pretending to have is grown, counterfeiting is still an issue. If you go down to the Vape District on Wall Street, you can find all the bags you’ll need to convince people on the other side of the Sierras you got the heat. And most of those people have never seen real Doja, Jungle Boys or Cookies, so just having the logo on the bag is going to go a long way with them.
According to Doja Pak founder Ryan Bartholomew, they’ve been dealing with people faking their product since 2018, well before things blew up for the brand over the last couple of years since the initial RS-11 drop that made waves.
“Then, we were doing the cans. Shortly after we released the cans, we started to see cans that were being tagged on IG and they were fake,” Bartholomew told L.A. Weekly. “They were different. We could just tell that the font was off. It was very obvious to us, being the ones that made the cans, they were fake.”
When they made the jump to bags in 2019, it was much of the same problem. First they started to see fake bags float around L.A., then they started to appear online. Even worse, the bags were a bit easier to fake than the cans. So it can be a lot harder to spot the difference until you look inside at the nugs.
Bartholomew noted the internet helped it become an international problem. Websites like Calipacks.co.uk are currently selling Doja Bags for a little over a quarter.
“He’s in the UK and he prints… like at this point they’re printing stuff we never even made,” Bartholomew said. “Yesterday this guy was like, are these jars in Switzerland real?”
Bartholomew had to inform that person the jars they were dealing with were fakes.
Doja Pak attempted to create a verification system, but as Bartholomew noted, you got to be pretty headie to scan a QR code on the back of a bag. Doja handled the back end of the verification system and could see just how much people were interacting with it.
“Beyond the fake product, too, there’s a lot of scam accounts,” Bartholomew said. “There’s Instagram accounts with more followers than mine, Instagram accounts with the exact same amount of followers as mine with the exact same comments, but they have maybe like two K’s”
Bartholomew has people that come up to him all the time at events and they’ll tell him they sent money for an ounce.
“I’m not asking anyone to send me any money,” he said. “So there’s constant scamming going on every single day. I’ve been saying if we could see the dollar amount of scamming going on every day it would make us throw up in our mouths.”
Bartholomew estimates there are at least one hundred people pretending to be Doja Pak on the hunt for victims.
One thing that’s been helpful is unique packaging. Doja Pak’s Re:stash has become a unique identifier of the brand you can only get in person at events directly from the Doja Pak team. Additionally, they don’t have to worry about the Re:stash team printing a bunch of fake jars to give out, given the relationship they’ve built with them over the years.
Another famous L.A. brand that’s faced its fair share of fakers is The Jungle Boys.
“I mean we’ve definitely dealt with it a lot,“ Ivan from the Jungle Boys told L.A. Weekly from Florida, as they prepare to open their Miami Beach location today.
Ivan said more than fake products alone, these days people are faking the whole entity. There was even a fake Jungle Boys store across the street from City Hall in New York City. There was also another underground dispensary using their name in a less prominent location. Ivan finds the whole thing pretty wild.
One thing that will help the Jungle Boys distinguish themselves from the fakes is their new packaging released last month. The new jars are BPA-free and made from 100% recyclable plastic. They’re currently handpicking strains to make the jump to the new jars. The first was Strawberries N Later.
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