High schoolers use e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis

1. In this cross-sectional sample of high school students, 1 in 20 reported using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) to vaporize cannabis. Among students who reported using cannabis in any form at least once, nearly 1 in 5 had used an e-cigarette to vaporize cannabis.

2. In these high school students, e-cigarette use to vaporize cannabis was more likely in males and young teens. There was no association with socioeconomic status.

Study Rundown: The prevalence of e-cigarette use among high school students tripled from 2013 to 2014 and is now higher than the use of all other forms of tobacco in this population. E-cigarettes can also be utilized as a vehicle for marijuana delivery in more potent forms (via liquid hash oil or wax infused with tetrahydrocannabinol) and can be more discrete as vaporization results in a less potent order. It is not known how frequently high school students utilize this form of marijuana delivery, therefore this study sought to determine prevalence and characteristics of high school students vaporizing cannabis through e-cigarettes. In the 5 southeastern Connecticut high schools surveyed, 1 in 20 students reported using e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis. Among students who reported using cannabis in any form at least once in their life or using e-cigarettes for tobacco at least once in their life, rates of using e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis were nearly 1 in 5. For students who reported using both cannabis in any form and e-cigarettes, rates were 1 in 4. Male students and younger students reported increased use of e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis. This study is limited by generalizability and its survey format, which did not address racial differences or whether students who used e-cigarettes for both tobacco and cannabis transitioned from one to the other. However, these results highlight a new method of cannabis delivery of which physicians treating adolescents and young adults should be cognizant, and provide support for e-cigarette regulation in adolescents.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: National Public Radio: Pot smoker and mirrors: vaporizer pens hide marijuana use

In-Depth [survey]: A total of 3847 high school students from 5 high schools in southeastern Connecticut completed the survey in 2014. Respondents were a mean age of 16.0 ± 1.26 years and 51.7% female. Lifetime e-cigarette and lifetime cannabis use in this population (those who reported trying either an e-cigarette or cannabis in any form) was 27.9% and 29.2%, respectively. Lifetime dual use (those who reported trying both e-cigarette and cannabis) was 18.8%. Of the total population, 5.4% of students reported using e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis; this was increased in lifetime e-cigarette users (18.0%), lifetime cannabis users (18.4%), and lifetime dual users (26.5%). Among lifetime cannabis users, portable vaporizers (19.6%) were the most common form of vaped delivery, followed by e-cigarettes with hash oil (15.4%) and e-cigarettes with THC wax (10.0). Males were twice as likely to report lifetime use of e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis (OR 2.05; 95% CI 1.48-2.85). Younger students were more likely to report lifetime use of e-cigarettes to vaporize cannabis (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.61-0.67). Socioeconomic status was not associated with differences in use of e-cigarettes for vaporizing cannabis.

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