After a pair of recent court rulings in Illinois, one of the industry’s leading rolling paper manufacturers must halt some of the marketing lines that have been central to the brand’s story.
An Illinois jury found that HBI International, maker of the RAW brand of rolling papers, engaged in unfair competition and violated the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act through its rolling paper packaging and promotional activities.
The ruling prevents HBI from continuing to state, imply or suggest that it operates or contributes funds or sales proceeds to a charitable entity or foundation referred to as the “RAW Foundation.”
Despite HBI’s prior promotional claims, the court previously found that no such foundation existed, calling it a “non-existent foundation” in a December 6, 2022, ruling.
HBI must also stop referencing “Alcoy, Spain” in its marketing, or using an “Alcoy” stamp on its packaging, based on a January 19, 2023, ruling that references the jury trial, noting “none of HBI’s products are made in Alcoy.”
In addition, the order prohibits HBI from stating or implying that RAW Organic Hemp papers are “unrefined,” that they are made with natural hemp gum or wind power, that they are, or ever were, the world’s first or world’s only organic (or organic hemp) rolling papers, or that HBI or RAW founder Joshua Kesselman invented pre-rolled cones, among other things.
In a February 22 statement, RAW responded to the injunction, citing “hurtful and inaccurate rumors flying around.”
In the statement, RAW said its products are made in Benimarfull, Spain, in the Alicante province, with RAW Organic Hemp papers being made with “true unbleached certified organic hemp.” It also said the paper is milled in France before being sent to Benimarfull for finishing.
The statement also addressed the charitable giving, noting that the company has donated more than $2.5 million in direct cash plus in-kind contributions and lists 17 charities it said have received at least $20,000 each. It has renamed its charitable arm “RAW Giving.”
“The name we previously used for our giving efforts may have created the impression that we ourselves were a charity. We are not a charity,” the statement said.
— Brian Beckley