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A federal court ordered HBI International, maker of Raw Organic Hemp rolling papers, to stop selling and distributing a range of products after a jury discovered the company engaged in unfair competition and violated the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
According to CSP Daily News, the permanent injunction, filed Jan. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, stems from a 2016 lawsuit from Republic Brands, a Glenview, Illinois-based distributor of rolling papers and premium smoking accessories.
Republic Brands claimed HBI “deceptively and unfairly marketed” its Raw Organic Hemp rolling papers and that conduct largely fell within nine topics or categories.
Those include HBI marketing its papers as having been made in Alcoy, Spain, and referring to Alcoy as the “birthplace of rolling papers.” HBI also affixed an Alcoy stamp to some of its products.
Evidence at trial found, however, that HBI “makes no rolling paper in Alcoy, Spain whatsoever,” a Jan. 19 opinion and order from district judge Thomas Durkin said.
Other claims HBI made regarded the existence of a Raw Foundation, that Raw organic hemp rolling papers are made in eco-friendly and 100% wind powered facilities, that HBI’s CEO and founder Joshua Kesselman invented rolling paper cones and more, court documents show, CSP Daily News reports.
RAW packaging claims are going up in smoke
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
According to the court order, by March 2, HBI must stop promoting, selling, distributing, shipping or delivering all Raw Organic Hemp products sold in packaging displaying the nine statements, including the Alcoy stamp.
By May 31, it must stop selling the products under its other brands sold in packaging including an Alcoy stamp.
After May 31, 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.
Canna Tech Today reports HBI told the court it will stop making the statements previously indicated, without consenting to a finding that any of the subject statements was false.
Its website, HBI International, is currently down and states it will relaunch in March.
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