ResearchPublications

Copycat and lookalike edible cannabis product packaging in the United States
Abstract

BACKGROUND: Recent media reports have highlighted copycat/lookalike cannabis edibles as a public health concern. No empirical papers have described this phenomenon.

METHODS: From May 2020-August 2021, we collected photos of cannabis products via an online survey of cannabis users and through personal contacts. Copycat/lookalike products are defined as those that use the same or similar brand name, logo, and/or imagery as an existing commercial non-cannabis counterpart (CNCC). We assessed each package for similarities with its CNCC with respect to brand name, product name, font, color, flavors, and brand/promotional characters. We examined cannabis content indicators including: THC content per package and serving, cannabis leaf symbol, product warnings, cannabis terms, cannabis motifs, activation time, and guidance on edible use.

RESULTS: We collected photos of 731 cannabis products; 267 (36%) were edibles of which 22 (8%) represented 13 unique copycat/lookalike products. Eight used exact brand/product names as existing CNCCs, and five used similar names. Packages copied or imitated a mean of 3.9 of six features and indicated cannabis content with a mean of 4.1 of eight features. Thirteen packages indicated a mean THC content of 459 mg/package. Four reported THC dose per serving, with a mean dose of 47.5 mg.

CONCLUSIONS: Our content analysis highlights three key concerns. First, copycat/lookalike edibles subtly indicate cannabis content while using high fidelity replication or imitation of their CNCC. Second, THC content is high and there were multiple 10 mg THC doses in the equivalent of 1 serving of a CNCC. Third, these products may be attractive to children.

Full citation:
Ompad DC, Snyder KM, Sandh S, Hagen D, Collier KJ, Goldmann E, Goodman MS, Tan ASL (2022).
Copycat and lookalike edible cannabis product packaging in the United States
Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 235, 109409. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2022.109409. PMCID: PMC9106923.