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CannaMess: Big Name Cannabis Brands Respond to LA Times Report on Pesticides in Their Legal Weed

Updated: Jun 18

A tale as old as time; pesticides are in your weed vapes! In a scathing new article by the LA Times, products by big name cannabis brands such as Backpack Boyz, West Coast Cure, Flavorade, Cru, Stiizy, and even a Blog-favorite Maven Genetics have been found with pesticides that exceed the federal standards allowed for cannabis and tobacco. The chemicals that were tested are tied to cancer, liver failure, thyroid disease, and a bunch of other shit you don’t want happening to your body. Backpack Boyz and West Coast Cure were the two brands that came up the most in these tests, failing miserably with multiple products showing several harmful pesticides surpassing the regulated levels.

Other Brands that showed up multiple times in this report include Phire, Phat Panda, Circles, Cru, among others.

You can find the entire list here. Now, it should be noted that the LA Times allegedly bought these vapes at retail stores, and these retail stores are supposed to follow federal guidelines regarding pesticide levels. There has been an ongoing controversy (some might say a conspiracy) in the cannabis community that despite there being federal limits and state-mandated tests for pesticides in cannabis, the tests and numbers are often half-assed, manipulated for profits, and above all—bullshit. It doesn’t help that the names being plastered and humiliated are some of the biggest names and personalities in cannabis. That tidbit is important because big names come with big followings and reputations, so targeting them is a clever way to coax the reader.

The first response came from Juan Quesada, former UFC fighter and founder of Backpack Boyz. He states that the LA Times most likely bought these vapes from a non-reputable source, the vapes were fake, and it’s the cause of the failed tests (despite the Times reporting otherwise).

Clearly this report ticked off Quesada, prompting a quick reactionary response on his Instagram stories. It’s interesting to hear him say that the Times bought fake vapes because if that’s true, then why are retail stores selling fake Backpack Boyz vapes? If what Quesada is saying is true, shouldn’t he be more upset at these retail stores for selling fake products with his brand’s name on it? After all, can you blame the consumer for being convinced about a vape in a legal cannabis shop? He simply does not believe they were real vapes bought at a reputable shop, and if Juan has the paperwork to prove it, why would he believe the report? Backpack Boyz is being slandered at a national level by mainstream media; a medium that is not kind towards cannabis. Essentially, you’re either taking the word of a media journalist or Juan Quesada, the businessman with a heavy influence on modern day cannabis culture.

JCures, founder of West Coast Cure, posted a video on Instagram a solid 48 hours after the LA Times article. He went sort of a different route compared to Juan Quesada in the sense that while he denies any harmful pesticides are in his vapes, he welcomes the idea of more tests being done on his products to solidify the legitimacy of the original report. Funny enough, he believes there is a connection between his Instagram account coincidentally being taken down almost immediately after the LA Times article was posted, stating he began asking the LA Times questions before being unable to log in to Instagram to post his official response.

JCures kinda makes this whole situation come off as a conspiracy aimed at his brand seeing as he is a reputable grower and entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. The terms “fake news” being thrown in the discourse is one thing, but here was his caption to these videos:

“Plain and simple the LA Times did not follow the same DCC testing protocols that are demanded of Brands like ours in our industry. I can only guess at the motives of the groups of people involved. Bottom line, we have clean tests for every WCC product on shelfs at retailers from a lab approved by the DCC. We asked the LA Times some critical questions about their motives & process that they were unable or unwilling to answer. We will bring these questions, and many more very soon!…”

Whether the conspiracy be true or not, JCures welcoming 3rd party testing is a breath of fresh air as he values the idea of more research being done instead of believing in the he-said she-said bullshit. He has always stood by his products’ quality and is doubling-down on that support. Clearly, he is not finished with these reports and will see this entire process through.

Ponder this thought: Backpack Boyz and West Coast Cure are part of the Designer Weed Culture that is engulfing the cannabis community, and that is important because their brands are often copied through fake black-market vapes, stylish mylar bags, and even logos of underground brands are direct copies. I, among many other consumers, have seen countless knock-off vapes and pre-rolls with their names and likeness plastered all over them for the purpose of making a sale. This is quite common in the black market regarding disreputable growers and sellers.

In a more comedic route, Raw Garden used the article to promote their brand considering their products passed the lab tests by the LA Times.

Clearly, Raw Garden has no issue calling out those brands that failed said lab tests, which is interesting since they are often sold in the same dispensaries and set up stands at the same cannabis events. After all, they are competitors in the legal market. Raw Garden has continuously boasted that their vapes and cartridges are pesticide-free and claim they’re the freshest smoke you’ll find regarding vapes.

The last 5-10 years have been rough on fans of smoking cartridges and weed vapes. The late 2010s saw the Vitamin E scare that plagued black market cartridge and vape brands. People were dying because of unregulated vapes that contained an additive that’s harmful to your lungs, and it painted this method of smoking as dangerous and low-quality. They’ve made a quiet rise back into the cannabis space but are commonly seen as the least popular way to smoke weed. This report by the LA Times makes things worse for vapes by now targeting the legal market brands, creating a mass uncertainty on an already-controversial method of smoking. Pesticides are a common topic amongst consumers who are critical of the weed they smoke, and it spells death on whatever brand sees themselves being mentioned in that discussion.

It’s hard to imagine why the LA Times would lie about these numbers, but there are possible theories to consider. One might think this is a hit piece against the rec laws in California and an excuse to impose more regulations on cannabis. Who’s to say this entire report wasn’t fabricated to put down cannabis by targeting specific brands with a heavy influence in the cannabis space? Some may even think the article was a sensationalist hit piece made to shock the reader, that is after they pay for a subscription to the LA Times--otherwise they can't read the article. All perspectives on this article by the LA Times must be considered because both sides are arguing the legitimacy of their respective reputations. The LA Times have lab results from different locations and the cannabis brands have their own COAs; both providing paperwork and both giving the consumer different results. Now it’s up to the reader and consumer to decide what is real and what is a lie. So, what side are you on?


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