Concerns over the preponderance of teens using vapes and e-cigarettes have taken on a new dimension today, as a just-released survey of more than 20,000 U.S. high school students shows teens are vaping cannabis, not just nicotine. In fact, some students who’ve vaped have only used cannabis products. Overall, the popularity of vaping is rising among teens, but is this causing teens to use more cannabis?
Nine Percent of High School Students Surveyed Vape Cannabis
Today’s report in the peer-reviewed medical journal Pediatrics follows up on a study published last month on the relationship between teen tobacco-use and subsequent cannabis-use. That study focused on the popularity of e-cigarettes as a new way of smoking “tobacco.” Since researchers have already shown how smoking cigarettes can lead to cannabis consumption among teens, scientists wanted find out if teens who use e-cigs are more likely to consume cannabis.
What today’s report shows, however, is that teens are likely to be vaping cannabis, not e-cig juice. According to the report, roughly one-third of the middle and high school students surveyed—about 20,000—said they used vapes with non-nicotine substances. And 9 percent of those same students said they vaped cannabis. Even more telling, one out of every three students who ever used a vape used it to vape marijuana. In other words, 33 percent of students who vape have never vaped e-cig juice, just cannabis.
According to the AP, extrapolating the survey’s results would suggest 2.1 million middle and high school students vape cannabis products–and that data comes from 2016. Experts are uncertain whether the number of teens vaping marijuana is holding steady or on the rise. They say vaping is too new to know for sure. But among cannabis consumers, vaping cannabis is only becoming more popular.
Teen Vaping Concerns Grow Amid New Findings
Health officials have already sounded the alarm about teen e-cig use. And last week, the U.S. FDA gave major e-cig manufacturers 60-days to come up with plans to reduce teen use. Companies that fail to comply could have their products pulled.
Yet it’s unclear how efforts to reduce teen vape-use will impact the legal cannabis industry. For medical and retail consumers, cannabis oil cartridges have several advantages over flower, making them very common and popular cannabis products.
But their discretion, ease-of-use and portability make them too-ideal devices for underage cannabis consumption. Caregivers and school officials are thus having a harder time identifying them. But more schools are cracking down on e-cig and vaporizers of any kind.
Health concerns also stem from the relatively unknown risks of vaping. There aren’t comprehensive studies, for example, on the effects of inhaling propylene glycol, a common additive in THC oil cartridges and e-cig juice.