Cannabis really is an incredible plant, isn’t it? Most strands of the plant come packed with over a hundred different active endocannabinoids, and many of those have gained widespread market appeal over the last couple of years. This includes fan favorites like CBD and THC, as well some substances that are just now gaining popularity, like CBG and Delta-8 THC. All of these have their users, and all of these can be found for sale online, but it’s important to be careful with where you choose to buy these products.
That’s because the growing popularity of cannabis products has also drawn many bad actors to the industry. And you don’t have to go far to find people trying to scam consumers in this market through a variety of means. Some try to fool consumers into thinking hemp seed oil is the same as CBD oil, others set up fake websites with incredible deals on weed products just to get their hands on people’s credit card information.
The good news is that most scammers are lazy, so it doesn’t take too much work to avoid their traps. Here’s what you can do in order to avoid falling into the most common cannabis scams in the market today.
1. Avoid resellers
In this day and age, there is really no reason to buy cannabis products from a reseller, given how easy it is to order your gummies, vape cartridges, and more directly from manufacturers.
Buying from the manufacturer guarantees two things. First, it ensures that you are actually getting a product from the brand you choose — there is little risk that someone has switched the label on the product to make it look like it was made by a different company. And second, it guarantees that you’re getting a product that hasn’t been tampered with. A reseller could conceivably attempt to dilute the product before selling it, or even accidentally contaminate it in storage; both of which have happened in the past, even if it’s not a common issue.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Such as online stores dedicated only to selling CBD and THC products from various brands. If you find a specialist store that has been in the market for a while and that has a stellar reputation, it’s probably safe to buy from them, and doing so can help you save in shipping costs if you want products from different brands. But you shouldn’t buy CBD from stores that also sell books and fridges; that is generally riskier.
2. Online reviews
Another way to know if you can trust an online cannabis dispensary like NakedCannabis is to check their site’s customer reviews. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many users don’t bother checking for reviews before making their first purchase. So much so that many scam websites don’t even bother setting up fake reviews, or they write reviews that clearly sound fake when read.
Look for reviews not only on the site’s homepage, but also on third-party websites like TrustPilot, Reviews.io, and Google Reviews. Websites run by scammers need to rebrand constantly in order to stay ahead of the bad publicity they generate, so they seldom stick around long enough to gather a significant number of reviews on those third-party platforms.
3. Compare the prices
As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. And if you run into a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be especially wary of deals that were shown to you without you asking, whether it be an email from a company you never heard of before, or even a banner ad offering unbelievably good prices.
It costs time and money to produce quality cannabis products, and trained specialists need to be involved. If a product is far below market price, this could be a sign that something isn’t right. Corners might have been cut, cheap solvents used, the product might be diluted or tainted, or the deal might just be an excuse to get you to volunteer your personal information to the site.
That said, trusted manufacturers may do flash sales on occasion to either free up storage space or get rid of stock that is about to expire. But on these occasions those companies won’t send spam mail or set up banner ads; they’ll simply offer deals to their regular customers. So be wary when brands you’ve never heard of show up to offer you incredible deals, and stick to products that are reasonably close to the market average.
4. Judge book by the cover
It takes a lot of investment to get into the cannabis market, especially if you are going to be manufacturing oils, vaping liquids, and edibles. This means that a cannabis manufacturer with a cheap-looking and unresponsive online store should make you suspicious. Any genuine player in this industry can afford to have their store professionally designed.
If the store looks cheap, it might have been hurriedly set up by a scammer. Or you’re dealing with a small drop-shipping operation, which isn’t nefarious at all. In other words, shoddy web design is a red flag, but it’s not conclusive proof that you’re dealing with a scam website. Avoid poorly-designed online stores if you want to be extra safe, or check reviews and forum posts about the company to see if their online reputation is better than their web design.
5. Additional information
As mentioned before, scammers are often lazy when setting up their sites. This means you’ll often find unfinished sections of their site if you try to explore it for a bit. Try to find information about who owns the company, its business registration number, the source of their hemp, or look for the store’s customer support information and return policy. This is all information that most legitimate stores have, and most illegitimate stores do not.
You may also find sections of the site that have been copied and pasted from other areas of the web without being altered. The site’s privacy policies may list the wrong company name, for example.