About a year ago a friend of mine told me they knew someone who had cheap vape cartridges for sale. Living in a “black market” area, I didn’t really have access to things like vape carts and I was interested in trying some out.

They were about $40 a piece and I found the convenience factor quite intriguing. A longtime flower guy, I had to admit that just pushing a button and inhaling was a lot easier, especially if I was out and about. In the few weeks I used the carts I felt many of the same things I did when I smoked flower. But there was something missing, like I could feel 80-90% of what I was used to, but it never got to 100%.

Soon after I started my experiments, I heard rumblings online about counterfeit vape carts. People were making concentrates at home and putting them in carts and buying very real-looking packaging online to sell them in. After a little research, I knew that a lot of the warning signs for bootleg vape cartridges were present in my situation.

To start, the carts were too cheap. Unless someone stole a bunch of them from a dispensary or retail shop, there is no way they could sell them at $40 per cart and make anywhere near a profit. People lie, but economics doesn’t.

Added to all this, I began to feel less well in ways that I still can’t fully put into words. There were no specific symptoms; overall I just felt….worse. It had begun soon after I started using the vapes and – to no one’s surprise, including my own – the feeling went away soon after I stopped using them.

As more health problems attributed to counterfeit vape cartridges hit the news, this knowledge is becoming more widespread in the cannabis community. While quality vape carts represent amazing technological advances in the world of cannabis, the poor quality ones remind us there will always be those who look to take advantage of others.

I should have done better research in the beginning. While there is certainly much more information available now, the problem of these carts was not unknown when I used them. Enough information was available on the Internet to make me at least think twice about what I was ingesting.

As far as I can tell, I have no lasting ill health effects from the carts. My general feeling of “worse” went away and never resurfaced. But there are reports of people suffering lung damage in multiple states, so it would behoove anyone reading this to be aware. Cheap carts are either fake or stolen; either way, they are bad news for you.

Do your research, as I should have sooner. As legalization spreads, quality products will become more widely available, but while prohibition still reigns in some places, so too do the pitfalls that come from it.