Vaporizing – or vaping – has exploded in both popularity and notoriety over the past decade as the seemingly noble original sales pitch that it was meant to help people quit smoking cigarettes quickly went up in smoke to reveal a massive new revenue stream for the addiction-peddlers that make up Big Tobacco.
At the pit of that swamp, making headlines for all the wrong reasons the past few years, you find JUUL Labs, Inc., founded in 2017, manufacturer and distributor of the popular nicotine-infused JUUL “pods” – pre-filled vape cartridges originally released in 2015 and designed to be compatible with a rechargeable battery offered by the same brand.
JUUL was forecasted to do $3.8 billion in revenue in 2019 alone, up from $1.3 billion the year prior, and it now controls over three-quarters of the “non-traditional” smoking market. This rapid rise was fueled on addiction – much of it by teenage consumers which drew scrutiny from federal investigators.
In 2018, JUUL’s response to that pressure from Big Brother was to cut off all of their retail partners, the brick and mortar stores that built their brand, and only offer their most popular flavored nicotine pods directly through their own website, keeping the full profit margin for themselves. So brave.
That helps explain that massive jump in revenue, eh?
Despite the equally rapid rise in negative press surrounding e-cigarettes and JUUL in particular, the fact remains that cigarette smoking among adults is at the lowest level ever recorded and so in late 2019, Big Tobacco behemoth Altria Group, Inc. (makers of Marlboro cigarettes) made an initial investment of $12.4 billion into JUUL, taking 35% ownership and laying bare the incestuous relationship between these two parallel industries.
Here at Humboldt’s Cabinet, we witnessed firsthand as friends, family, and the nation in general fell for this ruse. However, there is no denying that vaping is a convenient form of consumption which can provide a far safer alternative to smoking anything, especially tobacco. So, we set out to fill the market gap where Juul failed by providing that safe alternative, by providing a product with a purpose.
That product is our own version of the CBD Pod, filled not with nicotine and glycerin, but with just two ingredients - the highest quality, lab tested CBD distillate and naturally derived terpenes – available in a variety of botanical and hemp-derived strains.
Here is where this story really begins.
We have been manufacturing and distributing the Humboldt’s Cabinet CBD Pod since 2018. The product is designed to not only be compatible with the JUUL brand battery, but to demonstrably work in a superior fashion with that battery style. Our pod hardware features a wickless ceramic coil and high heat resistant plastic, making our product guaranteed leak-free. These are claims that they just cannot make.
We have thrown a lot of dates at you so far, but the timeline is important and interesting in this story so bear with us as we run through it.
- In 2017, JUUL Labs, Inc. is formed after a split from their parent company PAX Labs, who remained in the cannabis vaporizing space while JUUL sank its fangs into the nicotine vaporizing space. They maintain to this day that the two are wholly separate entities with no interaction on the corporate level.
- In 2018, the Feds begin to really crack down on JUUL. The company cuts out the middleman, pulling all flavored vape pods from retail stores and only offering them directly from their own website. Annual profits nearly triple.
- In 2019, a vaping crisis sweeps the nation, sending dozens to emergency rooms from coast to coast and claiming 68 lives as of February 18th of this year. Despite the negative press surrounding the sector in general and particularly on JUUL itself, Altria dumps billions into JUUL marrying Big Tobacco to the vape industry in broad daylight.
- December 19th, 2019, Humboldt’s Closet receives mail from legal counsel representing JUUL Labs, Inc. essentially demanding that we “immediately cease manufacturing, importing, distributing, and/or selling HUMBOLDT'S CABINET pods”, or face their wrath.
Of course, we were not so intimately familiar with the timeline laid out above when we received this letter, but all of the pieces now seem to fit with the plummeting trajectory of cigarette sales contrasted by the seemingly endless opportunity for success in the all-new legal cannabis/hemp space… it only makes sense that all of a sudden, we may be seen as some sort of competition to such a beast.
Both parties claim no connection between PAX and JUUL/Altria. Maybe, maybe not. But if you think that Altria isn’t chomping at the bit just waiting for weed to get a little safer at the federal level, then you aren’t paying attention. Are they sending letters like this to soften up the defenses before they invade?
We do feel that it is pretty suspect to try to enforce a trademark that literally says it covers “nicotine-based liquid, namely, liquid nicotine used to refill electronic cigarettes; cartridges sold filled with liquid nicotine for electronic cigarettes; electronic cigarette refill liquids, namely, chemical flavorings in liquid form used to refill electronic cigarettes; cartridges sold filled with chemical flavorings in liquid form for electronic cigarettes; electronic cigarettes; electronic smoking vaporizers, namely, electronic cigarettes; tobacco substitutes in liquid solution form other than for medical purposes for electronic cigarettes” even though none of that applies to us or our product.
We are also confident that our vaporizer pod is completely compatible and safe with the JUUL brand battery and is far superior to the JUUL brand vaporizer pods. Our products are third party lab tested not only to ensure the purity and potency of the high-quality hemp oil inside, but to ensure the quality of the hardware itself. Even the way the two types of pods are filled are different. Our entire brand and ethos are rooted in wellness and improving the quality of life and health of others. That is absolutely a claim that JUUL cannot make.
We honestly have not decided what our next move will be just yet. We have a dwindling supply of these pods in stock. They have helped countless people kick their nicotine addiction once and for all and replace it with a proven solution for less anxiety, less pain, and no harmful side effects. Comparing our product to theirs is a desperate reach on their part, or perhaps we just got randomly caught up in some blanket sweep by their high-powered legal team.
Our roots in Humboldt, California run deep and caving to corporate interests just isn’t something you find in the soil up here but let this serve as a warning shot for those rushing blindly toward federal cannabis legalization that freedom isn’t free… and neither are lawyers!
Humboldt’s Cabinet was founded by deep-rooted Californians with a sacred appreciation and understanding of the cannabis plant in its many forms and cannabinoid ratios.
Robert, the sole owner of Humboldt’s Cabinet, has worked in virtually all facets of the cannabis market over the past decade. Like many legacy operators, especially here in Northern California, Robert saw the framework for Prop 64 as a brewing storm that threatened to wipe out many of the most well-intentioned grassroots brands. Recognizing both the usefulness of properly crafted CBD products, and the lack of such products on the market, he made the pivot.
With a guiding commitment to use only the highest quality non-GMO hemp plants to create effective, reliable, and affordable CBD products, Humboldt’s Cabinet has built a trusted brand from the grassroots of the cannabis culture, up. The reasons for establishing the company are many, and the list of products offered has grown over time, but each product has a purpose in helping us achieve those foundational goals.