A photo that supposedly depicts a new weed vape called COVID#19 OG has gone, ahem, viral.
Last week, The Blacklist posted an image of the COVID#19 OG vape cartridge and its packaging on Instagram. The Blacklist commented: “A whole knockoff 😭 We don’t even know how to respond…”
COVID-19, the deadly respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is obviously the most discussed topic on social media (and everywhere else) right now. In fact, it’s so hot that the streaming adult site PornHub has an entirely new “coronavirus” genre of smut scenes trending.
But would a COVID-19-branded weed product make sense as a marketing strategy, especially in an industry that’s already highly stigmatized? No, it doesn’t, which led several social media users to deem the image itself as fake.
Indeed, the image is photoshopped. The COVID#19 OG image first appeared on the subreddit /r/fakecartridges a little over a week ago, and it bears all the markings of a darkly-crafted joke.
The title for the subreddit post goes, “Looks legit? Plug said it’s a new brand from Italy.” Italy was one of the first Western nations to get hit hard by the pandemic, and has since seen more deaths from COVID-19 than any other country. Weed is legal in Italy, but only for strict medical purposes.
Additionally, note that the packaging reads, “High Potency. Lab Tested,” two phrases that rarely, if ever, appear on legit, licensed carts, but have become an inside joke in the weed vaping community as these phrases do appear on a lot of fake, unlicensed brands.
Some people got the joke. One user called paranoidamerican wrote, “Not legit unless the stats [add] up to 120%,” referencing another recurrent issue with fake carts, where lab results don’t add up to a solid 100 percent.
Another Instagram user commented, “I heard that shit’s fire. They say you can really feel it in your lungs 🔥”
Another Instagram user commented, “Seems legit. One hit, and your gone 💀” [sic].
Others found it offensive. “I’ll say it for you,” commented user @johnnybooch on Instagram. “In my opinion, it’s in very bad taste considering the thousands that have died across the world from this bullshit…”
Furthermore, the original poster for the COVID#19 OG image, who goes by OofDotWav, claimed that they Photoshopped the image. They also claimed to link to the original image they used to create the coronavirus cartridge, but the image is no longer supported on Reddit.
But don’t take our word for it. Look closer at the image. Notice the different shades around the COVID#19 OG logo and the actual package’s color? OofDotWav did a fine job of faking the logo, but they didn’t quite match the logo’s surrounding color with the actual packaging from the original, non-altered image.
So, there probably isn’t an actual, physical product out there branded as COVID#19 OG. But it begs the question: What brand is COVID#19 OG knocking off?
According to both Reddit and Instagram users, it’s biting Big Chief Extracts, a licensed cannabis company based in California. Note the stylish box, shiny lettering, and wood-tipped cartridge, all hallmarks of the Big Chief brand.
And yes, the company is fully aware that this image is making the rounds on social media. MJ Kahn, a partner and marketer at Big Chief, sent the image to The Blacklist to begin with.
“We get submissions every day. We get [dispensary managers] wondering how to verify our product,” Kahn told MERRY JANE over the phone. “There are a lot of counterfeits out there, just like any other brand that’s being [illegally] replicated.”
“One submission that we got, somebody asked, ‘Hey, can you verify if this product is real?’” he continued. “I said sure, send us the product. And they sent that [COVID#19 OG image] in. I didn’t know how to respond. When people send us fake packaging, we can usually tell, but this was completely out of the blue. I saw it had COVID OG written on it, and I didn’t even have words for the guy. He was shocked, as well.”
There you have it: COVID#19 OG is a Reddit hoax, made to poke fun at fake carts within the context of a dire, gloomy global crisis. There’s no such thing as COVID#19 OG vape carts, nor is there a weed strain with the same name (at least, not yet, anyway).
But if you’re ever wondering if you’ve got a fake cart or a real Big Chief Extracts product, the company built in some security measures for its products. On the back of the cartridge packaging, consumers will find a scratch-off QR code. Contact the company through its website to confirm the QR code. Whether it’s real or fake, they’ll let you know.
Additionally, Big Chief Extracts list all of its retailers on the company’s website, too. Only buy Big Chief if you find them at those authorized locations. And only ever buy vape pens at legit, reputable dispensaries that are also licensed.
You probably won’t catch the coronavirus from a knock-off vape pen, but you could come down with EVALI, the vape-related lung illness that was rocking the weed world before the COVID-19 pandemic. And we imagine it would really, really suck if you came down with both at the same time.