Vaping devices are not just being used for nicotine – they are also being used to vaporize THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's mind-altering effects.
Is this a growing trend? Should parents be worried? There is limited research available on just how many young people are using vaping devices to ingest THC. One study of high school students in Connecticut found that 18 percent of e-cigarette users who took the study’s survey had vaped marijuana, as did more than one in four students who had used both e-cigarettes and marijuana in their lifetime. Students in this study were most likely to report vaporizing marijuana in its dried leaf form rather than as hash oil or THC-infused wax.
Although there is limited national data available on this trend, we do know that e-cigarette use among high school students has tripled between 2013 and 2014. The perception that using a smokeless device carries little risk may actually lead to more people using the devices to vape marijuana.
Simply being aware that young people are using vaping devices to consume marijuana is important for parents. Parents should also know that:
- Vaping THC does not produce the telltale smell that emerges when smoking marijuana through a joint, blunt or pipe. Teens and young adults can use marijuana without being detected
- When people vape rather smoke marijuana, they tend to consume even higher concentrations of THC, which means greater exposure to the drug's mind altering and addictive ingredient
Knowing whether your child is using vaping devices is important. It is also increasingly critical to know what’s in the device. Educating yourself on the latest teen trends, like using electronic vaping devices to ingest marijuana, is an important step in preventing use. Keep the lines of communication with your child open, and be aware of the signs and symptoms of marijuana use, regardless of the form it may take.
Brandie Pugh, MA
Brandie Pugh is a Research Associate at the Center and a PhD Candidate in Sociology at the University of Delaware.