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RAW Rolling Papers Caught in a Web of Deceit

A jury verdict found HBI International, creator of RAW Organic Hemp rolling papers, engaged in unfair business practices which violated the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The RAW brand, known for its artisanal products and charitable contributions, apparently lied about the existence of its charity, the RAW Foundation, and the manufacturing and distribution location of its RAW Organic Hemp rolling papers.

RAW Founder Joshua Kesselman told Cannabis & Tech Today in a 2022 interview that RAW papers are crafted in Alcoy, Spain in the “last remaining authentic rolling paper factory in Alcoy.”  The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois permanently enjoined HBI International from implying its RAW Organic Hemp products are created in or distributed from Alcoy. 

Further, HBI International is forbidden from stating HBI and/or RAW contributes funds or proceeds to the RAW Foundation charitable entity. The court determined the foundation does not actually exist. 

The January 31, 2023 court ruling forbids HBI International from marketing or stating any of the following:

  • That HBI and/or RAW® contributes its funds or proceeds to a charitable entity/foundation dubbed the “RAW Foundation”
  • That RAW® Organic Hemp rolling papers are “unrefined”
  • That RAW® Organic Hemp rolling paper adhesives are made from natural hemp gum
  • That RAW® Organic Hemp rolling papers are the world’s first or only organic (or organic hemp) rolling papers
  • That RAW® Organic Hemp rolling papers are made in Alcoy, Spain
  • That HBI International shall not include a packaging “stamp” using the word Alcoy or referring to Alcoy
  • That RAW® Organic Hemp rolling papers utilize wind power
  • That RAW® Organic Hemp rolling papers are made from the center of hemp stalks
  • That HBI or its founder Joshua Kesselmen invented rolling paper pre-rolled cones
  • That OCB® Organic Hemp papers are knock-offs, “RAWnabees,” copies, or fake versions of RAW® rolling papers

After May 31, 2023, HBI must cease promoting, selling, or distributing products under any of its other brands in packaging with an Alcoy stamp. These brands include Elements, Juicy Jays, and others.

RAW’s websites RAWgiving.com and RAWthentic.com, are currently down, stating “We’re updating our website and packaging to give you the most rawesome rolling experience ever.” This may be in response to the injunction requiring certain claims on RAW’s packaging be changed.

To listen to Kesselman’s 2022 interview describing the brand, its origins, and its charitable contributions, check out the podcast with Cannabis & Tech Today Editor-in-Chief Charles Warner.

Author

  • Ebby Stone is a freelance writer specializing in cannabis, with a focus on the innovators and businesses shaping the industry.

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