Current Trend - Vaping Marijuana
The increased use of e-cigarettes among youth is mirrored by a similiar increase in vaping cannabis. Like cigarettes, there has been a shift away from using dry, combustile marijuana, like in a pipe or joint. Instead, cannabis wax or concentrate containing THC can be smoked using 'dab pens' or vaporizers. Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is the main active ingredient in marijuana that produces psychological effects. These 'pens' or 'vapes' are extremely potent, containing high concentrations of THC ranging from 40 to 80%. Like e-cigarettes, many users prefer to consume cannabis using a dab pen or vape because it is odorless, easy to conceal, and often perceived as less harmful than other methods of consumption.1
The health-related consequences of vaping marijuana concentrates are not yet well-understood. However, researchers acknowledge that there are risks associated with the use of high-potency concentrates including acute adverse effects, like paranoia and psychosis, and long term mental and physical health problems. The finding of heavy metal in vapes is also cause for concern in evaluating the risk for lung injury.2 The CDC is continuing to monitor e-cigarette, or vaping, product use-associated lung injuries (EVALI). As of 2020, 2,807 individuals have been hospitalized due to EVALI, 68 of which have died.3 Following an outbreak of EVALI in August and September of 2019, it was noted that THC containing e-cigarettes and vape products, obtained through informal sources like friends, family, or in-person or online dealers, were linked to most cases.3 Research on EVALI and other adverse health effects is ongoing.
1 Drug Enforcement Administration. Vaping & Marijuana Concentrates [Internet]. Vaping & Marijuana Concentrates: What is Vaping? Available from: https://www.dea.gov/
2 Chadi N, Minato C, Stanwick R. Cannabis vaping: Understanding the health risks of a rapidly emerging trend. Paediatrics & Child Health. 2020;25.
3 Outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2021. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/