Research has shown that American teens are now using e-cigarettes to vape marijuana. Since these e-cigarettes vaporize the contents instead of burning them, the teens have their way without the pungent marijuana odor, as a result of which they can now get high at places hitherto considered ‘safe’ like home and school without anyone getting a whiff of it.
Researchers from the Yale University of Medicine carried out an anonymous survey and elicited responses from 3,800 students drawn from five high schools in Connecticut.
“Teens have actually discovered how to use e-cigarettes for vaping marijuana,” said lead author Suchitra Krishnan-Sarin, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine.
The researchers were chocked to find out that a third of their respondents had tried e-cigarettes, and 18percent of those admitted to having vaped marijuana.
“When you looked at the kids who said they had both used both e-cigarettes and had experimented with cannabis in the past, the number went up even higher to around 27 percent,” said Krishnan-Sarin.
She added that students were also seen smoking hash oil, a thick yellow resin obtained from marijuana plants which is more potent than an average joint and totally odorless. A cigarette or marijuana joint gives out smoke as leaves rolled up inside burn but an e-cigarette turns the nicotine, THC or other chemicals into aerosols which can be inhaled by smokers. For this reason, teenagers are not afraid of getting caught any more.
“Their fear of getting caught has gone down. And that’s a big deal,” said Dr. David Tinkelman, National Jewish Health, Denver.
Meghan Rabbitt Morean, an assistant professor at Oberlin College and co-author of the study agrees. “It’s so much easier to conceal e-cigarette pot use. Everybody knows that characteristic smell of marijuana, but this vapor is different. It’s possible that teenagers are using pot in a much less detectable way.”
However, Krishna-Sarin feels that they need to collect a lot more evidence before they can jump to conclusions on the basis of information collected from only five Connecticut schools. She pressed upon the need to collect similar evidence from other states in the US, particularly where marijuana is legal, to see if the rates of the manner in which teens smoke pot differ.