Not so dank, dudes.
NBC News reports that “countless purveyors of illicit THC products” are selling illegal cannabis or fake cannabis products in plain sight on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms.
“They are facilitating a public health crisis,” said Timothy Mackey, a professor at the University of California San Diego. His team has done extensive research on how social media platforms are used to sell various illicit products.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says “Dank Vapes” THC cartridges were the source of several illness outbreaks -- but until fairly recently, you could still search #dankvapesofficial on IG and get 49,000 tagged posts in return.
Excerpt from the new NBC News investigative report:
Shopping for illicit vape cartridges on Instagram is astonishingly simple. Open the app, plug in a hashtag such as #vapecartsforsale and — voilà — multiple posts appear with pictures of THC cartridges. In the comments or caption section, sellers advertise their products and post phone numbers for would-be buyers.
“Shop here everything is good,” one seller wrote above a phone number.
“Everything must go,” another wrote in a separate post.
The CDC has identified a bootleg brand of THC cartridges called Dank Vapes as the source of several vape-related illnesses. NBC News has previously reported that the bogus brand’s cartridges contain contaminants such as hydrogen cyanide and vitamin E acetate, a cutting agent identified by the CDC as one of the likely culprits in the outbreak.
But until recently, you could type #dankvapesofficial into Instagram, and more than 49,000 posts would pop up. In one, a dealer uploaded a video of himself rummaging through a duffel bag that was overstuffed with Dank Vapes cartridges. In the caption, he posted his number, encouraging users to text him, using the encrypted messaging app, WhatsApp.
“Danks on danks on danks, baby!” he can be heard saying in the video.
CNBC: Armed guards, secret location: Inside an illegal marijuana bazaar publicized on Instagram [Conor Ferguson, Cynthia McFadden and Rich Schapiro]
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PHOTOS courtesty US Centers for Disease Control