There is a growing trend among teenagers who use marijuana. Eager to hide their forbidden activity, young people have now turned to technology to fulfill their pot habit without attracting attention. With these new devices, teens can toke openly while looking like just another smoker. Best of all, its compact size and design make it easy to hide from authorities, setting off alarm bells with those concerned about keeping pot out of the hands of minors. It’s called a “one-hitter” or sometimes a “sneak-a-toke” and it consists of a metal or glass tube designed to look like a cigarette…
Oh, wait, I’m sorry, my bad. I was just reading a story from the Denver Post about the popularity of portable vaporizers among Colorado’s pot-smoking teenagers when I had this feeling of déjà vu, like maybe this scaremongering about kids and new pot smoking technologies had been done before.
Yes, the marijuana vaporizer industry is hot right now, but that owes to reasons that have nothing to do with teenagers. Marijuana is becoming prevalent enough to make vaporizing economically viable. Marijuana users are becoming educated enough to make vaporizing a smart health choice. Marijuana use is still forbidden in enough places to make vaporizing the only alternative to abstinence. Marijuana vaporizing eliminates the lingering smell of pot, the mess of ashes, and the need to light and re-light it.
There is also the boom in the nicotine vaporizing industry that’s providing the camouflage for the vape pen users among the e-cig users. On my last trip to Idaho, one of the most pot-hating states, I was stunned to see the proliferation of nicotine vape stores and the immense selection within. Smokers have been vilified for forty years now for their second-hand smoke and they are feeling newly-liberated by these vaporization technologies that allow them to enjoy their drug in public again. Tokers have been vilified for eighty years now and we’re happy to be on the freedom bandwagon, blending in with the smokers.
When the media hypes vape pens as the latest toking fad among teens, it downplays the serious harm reduction vaporization provides for smokers of anything. These vaporizers are not marketed or sold to children but there’s no doubt some teenagers will get a hold of them. The evolution of portable discrete technology to consume cannabis is the result of decades of prohibition on adult use, not some teenager’s wish to get secretly high.
And speaking of those teenagers in Colorado, it turns out that, according to the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey, teenage lifetime use of marijuana is down, teenage monthly use of marijuana is also down, and both figures for Colorado are below the US national averages. Colorado teens also smoke cigarettes and chew tobacco and drink alcohol less than national averages and all those figures have been in decline. You wouldn’t know that from the Denver Post’s story, which quoted the director of the Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance offering teenage use statistics without any historic and national perspective.
"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of "The Russ Belville Show."