The vaping black market is hiding in plain sight – WTKR News 3

From the outside, the store is clearly marked. Inside, rows of colorful products are on display. As far as any average shopper on this street in California can tell, this is a legal cannabis shop.

But it’s not.

Even in a state where it’s legal to buy, sell and use recreational cannabis, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (CBCC) says there are still unlicensed and illegal stores operating openly — selling untested, potentially dangerous products, including THC vaping cartridges.

“It is difficult for consumers to know which shops are operating legally,” said Mark Hoashi, founder of Doja, an app that has been called the Yelp of cannabis.

Hoashi walks through a legal cannabis shop called Chronic Pain Releaf. It looks like a hip pharmacy complete with exposed brick and staffers they call budtenders. Throughout the visit, he repeats his mantra: “Buy legal.”

“I believe that legal vape cartridges are safe. Every drop of cannabis, from the seed all the way to when it’s consumed, is documented and reported to the state — not to mention all of the testing that is required for a product to make it to a legal dispensary,” Hoashi said.

But Hoashi cautions it’s not that easy to know if you’re buying from the legal market since some illegal shops can look just like the legal ones, even displaying counterfeit licenses and charging tax to make them seem legitimate.

This poses a danger to consumers, Hoashi said. About a year ago, he noticed that users on his app were reporting symptoms such as headaches and nausea after vaping various cartridges. So he started having cartridges from unlicensed stores tested at a certified lab and posting the results on Instagram. What he found was that most contained illegal levels of pesticides and heavy metals. Hoashi said many

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