In the 2010s, a plethora of quick-start companies cropped up to capitalize on the cannabis boom. However, among them, Big Chief Cartridges stands as having one of the rockiest histories of any company. From the beginning, they were plagued with counterfeits, stories of raids, and even questions as to whether or not they are a legitimate company.
Recently, Big Chief Cartridges has retained a solid license and is now verified as an honest-to-god brand again, but the journey was tumultuous. Particularly damaging to the company were black market counterfeit cartridges that left people feeling duped and in some situations, endangered. Many cartridges were not safe for consumption, resulting in people being put on ventilators and suffering other symptoms.
This is part of a larger trend. The public saw a bunch of black market counterfeit weed being sold under false pretenses through illegitimate channels. The lack of a solid license and presence from Big Chief Cartridges during this debacle led to legitimate head shops picking up fake cartridges. As a result, Big Chief suffered a bad reputation as companies were accidentally selling low-quality products to unsuspecting customers.
Though there was a cultural blending of extreme hospitalizations into the “vaping vs. smoking debate”, the health risks of fake cartridges are unique. Black market brands operate within their own system, and as a result, are not subject to FDA regulations. As a result, many cartridges are known to contain dangerous chemicals.
According to the Lost Coast Outpost, many cartridges are cut with Vitamin E acetate for color and density purposes. Vitamin E is a popular addition to skincare products and is known to have antioxidant properties. However, when inhaled, they can do serious damage to the lungs. This can induce respiratory issues and illnesses.
As alluded to before, one huge problem is websites that operate outside of legitimate businesses giving access to subpar vapes. DHGate, for example, is notorious for buying counterfeit boxes and filling the THC carts with their own THC oils. These oils are often illegitimate, harmful oils that mainstream trusted vape cartridge sites reject. Though these websites save a lot of money, they put customers in harm’s way and are the subject of many controversies.
Busts, for example, are common for weed cartridges, and the types of cartridges often found are these dangerous and illegitimate ones. Let’s talk about these two busts and how common they are, the reasons why it’s easier to transport and make more money vs cannabis. Two examples are the Akron, Ohio bust, and the Kenosha County bust.
The Akron, Ohio bust occurred after police acted on a search warrant. The raid yielded over 20,000 cartridges, mostly containing illegitimate, dangerous oils. The bust in Kenosha involved two brothers who were charged in a massive counterfeit vaping cartridge operation. The brother would buy empty cartridges and fill them with their own liquid THC, an act that mirrors the dangerous practices of websites like DHGAte.
Big Chief Cartridges have been carrying all of this baggage on their backs nearly since their inception. After all, BigChief empty cartridges were found on DHGate. However, it seems they have become a legitimate company. That being said, it is important to understand that despite legitimacy, counterfeits can still be sold. Here are a few tips to ensure you don’t buy the wrong vape.