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The exploding black market for counterfeit THC vaping products

In this image, a man blows a cloud of white smoke down and behind him a shelf of vaping products says "no smoking."
E-cigarette use at Gone With the Smoke Vapor Lounge in 2016 in San Francisco, Calif. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Cannabis oils, vaping devices, packaging materials for vape products and vape products with THC are separately available on Instagram, Amazon and Facebook's Marketplace, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: 8 people across the U.S. have died from lung-related illnesses linked to vaping, as of Sept. 20. This online marketplace "is increasingly difficult for law enforcement and tech companies to police because of the geographic distribution of users ... and the use of private accounts and messaging apps to sell illicit products," per the WSJ.

Details: Tech companies say they have policies "against any illegal or inappropriate sales and do remove offenders from their sites," according to the WSJ. They reportedly invest in technology and teams to find "illegitimate products" on their platforms.

  • "... it is illegal to sell THC-containing products online and to ship these across state lines or internationally," the WSJ writes.

What they're saying: “We don’t know what the exact ingredients are on the online, unregulated sources,” University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies epidemiologist Denise Vidot, who studies the health effects of cannabis, told the WSJ.

  • “The resources to make it look like you have a legitimate product are easier to get” thanks to the internet, Vlad Valme of Portland, Ore.-based Thompson Duke Industrial, which manufactures vape-pod-filling machines, told the WSJ.

Go deeper: CDC says vaping-related illnesses are up nearly 50% since last week