Pot by other means

HIgh schoolers are using e-cigarettes to inhale marijuana.

Gregory Nemec

Gregory Nemec

View full image

Electronic cigarettes are becoming increasingly popular among teenagers, and a new Yale study shows that high school students aren’t using them to inhale just nicotine and flavored “e-liquids,” but also  marijuana.

More than five percent of the 3,847 Connecticut high school students who took an anonymous survey in the spring of 2014 reported using e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis. Use was highest among the teenagers who said that they had tried both e-cigarettes and, separately, marijuana—the “dual users,” as the study calls them. (The study was published in Pediatrics in September 2015.)

Many portable vaporizers are made especially for marijuana, but e-cigarettes can be modified for marijuana use. While 29 percent of dual users said they’d used portable vaporizers filled with cannabis leaves, 23 percent had used e-cigarettes to vaporize hash oil and 15 percent had used them to vaporize wax. Hash oil and wax are concentrated forms of cannabis that can contain much more of the psychoactive ingredient THC than the dried leaves.

That could be concerning, especially since teenagers may not know how strong the concentration is, says Meghan Morean ’11PhD, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine and the study’s lead author: “They might inadvertently be using a much stronger product.” And because vaping cannabis doesn’t produce as strong a smell as smoking it, she adds, the vaporizing trend could make it harder for parents to find out that their kids are using.

The comment period has expired.