Karhlyle Fletcher   |   December 07, 2022

A New Era for Cannabis Scams

Not even the cannabis industry is safe from elaborate digital scams.
Detroiter Karhlyle Fletcher is the host of High Lit, a cannabis research and classic literature podcast featuring leading voices and independent music. In addition to years in written and video cannabis journalism, he is also a traditional author.

There are plenty of stories about people trying to buy weed and getting ripped off, but cannabis conventions always seemed to have an era of professionalism. Yet, perhaps because of the perception of respectability, several unlikely victims found themselves bamboozled this fall.

Even Cultivators and Manufacturers Have Risks

While common sense dictates that buyers are at higher risk, producers in the cannabis industry also have to purchase things. One of these expenses is conference space so they can spread awareness of their product throughout the industry. Amsterdam Cannabis Expo 2022 was one of these conferences set to take place November 24-26, 2022.

The only issue is that when people called the venue, RAI Amsterdam, they said that no such conference was going to take place. They had not been contacted to host such an event and alerted the public - the event was a scam. Their statement went out in early October.

Fortunately, some companies refused to send funding to the expo due to unanswered questions and overall unprofessional interactions. One sign was that, although the expo had a very well-designed website, their listed sponsors didn't exist. More obvious warning signs started coming when the only floor plan they offered to hosts featured uniform exhibition spaces. Additionally, the expo's communications and emails never featured the names of any employees. Many savvy companies saw the warning signs and saved themselves from this predation.

Other companies weren't so lucky. Through bullying these companies by demanding they pay their invoice, the expo scammed many companies and stopped communicating with them. All these victims have left as recourse is to go to the authorities.

The entire ordeal highlights an issue that will only become more prescient. Improvements in technology have led to advanced scamming methods. Building a flashy website can be accomplished in under a week. Thus, anyone could be at risk of well-designed websites being as likely to be a scam as rougher-looking pages.

Strong Connectivity Means a Strong Community

One of the ways people avoided this scam was through visibility. The same advice works whether buying flower or renting an exhibition space. Research the claims that the salesperson is making. Just like someone can find the lab results of their cannabis product, reputable companies do exist online. If someone is describing a larger company that has never been mentioned elsewhere, likely, it doesn't exist.

Otherwise, salespeople should never be bullies. A confident vendor is happy to be refused because they know there's opportunity elsewhere and that focusing on that will be more fruitful than trying to win over a combative client. Scammers don’t care about relationship building, so they're much more likely to be rude.

If a company is looking for an opportunity to exhibit its products, it should rely on social media. As technology becomes more and more a part of our lives, online is replacing outside. Due to that, public perception of the internet is becoming a better and better indicator. If everyone in a network is chatting about an expo, it's likely legitimate.

Other things to check are if it's occurred before. An annual event is unlikely to become a scam suddenly. Also, annual events typically have a large and reputable sponsor behind them, which proves credibility. Some of the most significant events in the cannabis industry are already cultural celebrations that hundreds of thousands are aware of. Many publications host their own. Any event where several high-profile individuals risk their reputations by promoting it is almost certain to be legit.

So by being a part of the conversation, staying on top of social media, and being aware of the companies in their industry, companies can avoid scams like Amsterdam Cannabis Expo 2022. For those who fall victim to similar scams, hopefully, the authorities will be able to recover their lost money.

Integrating Social Media Is A Necessity

While having a social media presence may seem like a chore, the world of consumer reviews and lifestyle videos allows for further accountability in the future. Cannabis influencers will perhaps be the best metrics to determine legitimacy in the future if people make their brands on transparent conversations meant to keep the industry honest and ethical.

Otherwise, publications will always try their best to get ahead of scams and warn the industry, as having a healthy industry benefits everyone involved in it. Make sure to stay alert and report any advertising that looks off, as an industry that informs each other protects each other.

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