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Fake Carts vs Real Carts: Everything you need to know to vape safely

As if the bad rap vape carts got from manufacturers using dangerous filler ingredients wasn’t bad enough… Now, there’s a whole new cart problem to consider. Fake carts vs real carts. That’s right, just like seedy fake designer bag makers, fake weed carts are being produced by the masses. The only difference? A fake handbag only hurts your status or reputation, not your health.

So, how can you spot fake carts to avoid wasting your money and avoid inhaling an untested and unknown mix of ingredients? Of course, our team here at Embarc has your back with all the tips and information you’ll need.

Keep reading to learn more about the modern-day fake carts vs. real carts saga, and how to identify one yourself.

Choosing the best cannabis vape pen requires you to know the form of cannabis you prefer.


Let’s get real – vape carts are one of the most popular, and innovative ways to consume cannabis. Not only are they extra potent for an elevated experience, but they’re practically scentless for being discrete with your use. Unfortunately, anything of value or ‘luxury’ status is bound to be faked, by scammers looking to make a quick buck.

A few years back, in 2019, the fake vape cart crisis came to a head as a string of consumers landed in the hospital with Acute Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Upon further investigation, it was found that the group all had one thing in common: vaping. The same year, NBC News found 10 out of 10 fake carts they tested, contained hydrogen cyanide. A pesticide that’s commonly used by unlicensed rogue cultivators and is dangerous for inhalation.

In addition, many fake vape carts contain additives like vegetable glycerin, polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and vitamin E acetate that are used to thin out the oil. While these ingredients may be FDA approved, which *seems* safe, they are not approved by the FDA for inhalation like in the use of vape carts.

Uncovering this information, quickly prompted a warning from California’s Department of Public Health urging consumers not to purchase cannabis vape cartridges from unlicensed retailers.

But all the bad press hasn’t stopped fake weed cart manufacturers from making them. So, if you’re a regular vape cart buyer, what should you be looking for to avoid consuming fakes? Those tips are coming up next.



Before we get into the exact things to look for when deciphering fake carts vs. real carts, let’s go back to the purse or designer bag analogy. For most, it takes a well-trained eye to spot the difference between one Louis V and another. Fake carts are no different. Even though you might recognize the brand and even the branding or packaging, the cart could still be fake.


Check the Packaging

The packaging of any fake cart will be the first place to look. Just like designer knock-offs it’ll all come down to the fine details. In that case, you may be looking at the way the stitching is, or if the zippers are the same. As for fake carts vs real carts, you’ll need to look at package details like –

  • Fonts, and lettering – Is it the same font, are the letters capitalized or lowercase, or are the letters larger or smaller? These are all small details a counterfeit vape manufacturer may alter to appear the same, without being an exact replica.

  • Required deets – All real vape carts in California are required to be labeled or packaged with the following information:

    •  The vape cart itself should contain the universal cannabis symbol on it, to distinguish it from similar looking carts that contain nicotine vs. THC.
    •  A UID code, which correlates with the state’s California Cannabis Track-and-Trace (CCTT) system among other required label information like manufacturer name, batch or lot number, date of manufacturing and packaging, etc.

Now keep in mind that fake vape cart manufacturers are savvy and slick. So, some fake vape cart packages may have a license listed and just assume you won’t check. If you’re ever questioning whether or not a vape cart you purchased is real or not, do some digging and see if you can find any identifying numbers on the package. And even if you do, do your due diligence in searching the state’s website to see if a license exists. If it doesn’t? You’ve got a fake!

Scope Out the Oil

Pure cannabis oil, whether distilled or live resin, is frequently thick and slow moving inside the cart.If your cart has bubbles and is thin and fast moving when you tip it over, it’s very likely it could contain those dangerous additives we discussed. When in doubt, do the tip test and see how quickly the oil moves and if bubbles are present.

Consider the Pricing

You know what they say… if it sounds too good to be true, it might not be. The same goes for the pricing of fake vape carts. Due to the extensive extraction process it takes to make real vape cartridges and the high levels of potency (and quality!) they deliver, they’re one of the priciest cannabis products on the shelves today.

If you ever find a vape cart that is under $20, your vape cart spidey senses should start to tingle. That doesn’t mean getting a real vape cart from a licensed retailer at a good price, isn’t feasible. It simply means that an uber low price may be indicative of an uber low quality or fake cart all around.

man vaping


So, all in all, what’s the expert advice on how to avoid fake weed carts altogether? Buy your vape carts from a licensed dispensary. Without doing so, you put yourself at risk of purchasing what could be a fake weed cart, even if it appears as real as real can be.

The state of California has regulations in place for a good reason. That being, to protect consumer safety and health. That includes a variety of testing that carts must endure before they reach the shelf including tests for molds, mildew, and heavy metals, which can be obviously dangerous for consuming.

For the most part, brands make these tests easily accessible, sometimes even via a QR code on the outside of the package. A licensed dispensary will only accept, and sell, tested, legal vape carts, so you can guarantee when purchasing from one that your vape cart is 100% real. If you do by chance come across a fake cart, somehow, someway, report it through the state’s Department of Cannabis Control, here.

At Embarc, you can rest assured that our vape carts are 100% real. We’re proud to offer a wide selection of vape cart brands to deliver the consumer flavor, strain, price, and size variety.

Vape safely at Embarc by finding a location near you, or shopping online now.