Inside the illegal marijuana market publicized on Instagram

The United States is grappling with an epidemic of severe lung illnesses linked to vape pens, the majority involving bootleg THC oils. At least 60 people have died and nearly 2,700 others have been hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, the federal government took down dozens of websites that were advertising illicit THC cartridges. But NBC News found that countless purveyors of the counterfeit products are hawking their wares in plain sight on social media pages, exploiting Instagram’s anonymity and ease of use to reach a massive audience of young vapers.

Read more on this story on, and watch Cynthia McFadden’s report on “TODAY” at 8 a.m. ET/7 a.m. CT.

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