High School E-Cigarette Smokers Use Device To ‘Vape’ Marijuana: Study

| Sep 07, 2015 08:10 AM EDT

woman smoking e-cigarette

Almost one-fifth of high schoolers who use e-cigarette devices have operated it with marijuana, based on a new study. Electronic cigarettes function by vaporizing or "vaping" tobacco's nicotine or pot's tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), eliminating the creation of carcinogens caused by the burning tobacco or cannabis plant. However, the health effects of smoking e-cigs are still unclear.

The study involving Connecticut high school students was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Using e-cigarettes to smoke tobacco or marijuana has not been proven to be clearly safer than using traditional cigarette sticks or marijuana joints. In fact, the researchers wrote that vaping cannabis oils might cause higher amounts of THC to be released than puffing on dried hemp leaves.   

Teens in the study who used c-cigs were at a higher risk of vaping marijuana. While only 5.4 percent of the youngsters had used the device for that purpose, they were still 27 times more likely than adults to do that, according to Daily Mail.

Meghan Rabbitt Morean is an Oberlin College psychologist.  She said that the figures are high because the sale of c-cigs to minors and pot use are both illegal in Connecticut.  

The use of e-cigarettes for vaping is increasing among teens. A 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey revealed that 13.4 percent of teenagers had used the devices in the previous month. That figure was three times higher than in 2013.

Some teen smokers make modifications to e-cigarettes so they can vape weed. Another option is to use vape pens, which are designed for pot use.  

Researchers surveyed 3,847 students from five high schools. Nearly 30 percent of the participants said that they had used an e-cigarette at least once, and about 29 percent had tried marijuana. However, 18.8 percent of the high schoolers reported that they had used both e-cigs and cannabis, according to Live Science.

The researchers said that there are still unsolved mysteries that would require further studies. For example, they are not sure if electronic cigarettes lead teenagers to try out pot, or if they would have eventually smoked it anyway.

One possible use of e-cigs to smoke pot is a weaker scent. Burning the plant creates a sharper smell that is more difficult to conceal than vaping it.

This video discusses whether e-cigarettes are safer than traditional ones:

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