File this under news everyone already knew: A new report says teenagers are increasingly using their e-cigarettes to vape marijuana rather than nicotine.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that more young tokers are re-purposing vape pens for use with marijuana. Liquid nicotine is easily replaced with hash oil, wax, and other liquid cannabis concentrates, the study concluded.
Researchers asked nearly 4,000 Connecticut high school students about their drug use. Youngsters use vape pens with marijuana at a rate 27 times higher than that of adult vapers, the study found. Cannabis is legal for medical use in Connecticut, but teens are not allowed to buy e-cigarettes there.
“The rates were a little bit surprising, especially in a state where it’s illegal to sell e-cigarettes to kids,” said Meghan Morean, a professor of psychiatry and psychology who co-authored the report. “They’re using them at pretty considerable rates.”
Vaporizing more popular among young users
Of course, this isn’t news to anyone who regularly uses either marijuana or e-cigarettes. Vape pens are most popular among young people, both cannabis and nicotine consumers. The fact that more teens are using the pens to consume marijuana doesn’t mean they’re actually consuming more marijuana; other studies have showed that isn’t the case.
The new survey found that 30 percent of the Connecticut students said they have tried cannabis in some form. Roughly 5.5 percent said they had used a vape pen to consume marijuana. Of those who already smoked marijuana, 18 percent said they had vaped THC.
The study took a decidedly negative view of vaping and marijuana in general, declaring that vape pens could contain spectacular concentrations of THC. Anyone who has ever vaped hash oil knows that while it can lead to real intoxication, it isn’t heroin. There is no magical “super” cannabis oil.
Lack of research on effects of vaping
Researchers also complained that there isn’t yet enough evidence to support vaping as a healthy alternative to smoking. Actually, a study released just days earlier found that the evidence of vape safety is compelling.
“The relative safety of vaping marijuana versus smoking it is not well established,” Morean insisted. “One of the things that is different, it doesn’t smell as strong as when you smoke it.”
That seems to be the central complaint, in fact, of police and health care workers: that vapes are too easy to conceal. A recent scare story on CNN breathlessly reported that hospitals were swamped with addicts vaping synthetic cannabis through e-cigarettes. The story offered no statistical data to support this supposed flood of vape crimes.
Vaping is likely an effective and unobtrusive way to consume both nicotine and marijuana. Some people use the pens to smoke other substances, just like some people will use any available materials to smoke whatever they can get their hands on.
What matters, really, isn’t whether teenage marijuana smokers are switching to vapes. It’s whether teenagers are doing more things that are bad for their health. And this study doesn’t suggest they are.