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Hardly a week goes by without another news article about vaping. In 2014, vaping was selected as Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year, beating out other candidates like “Bae” and “Budtender”. If they were picking a word today, it would more likely be JUUL or Juuling, the wildly popular “stealth vape” of adolescents.
Juuling kids are vaporizing flavored e-juices with nicotine, but what about vaping marijuana? According to Monitoring the Future, an annual survey of nearly 50,000 adolescents, 3 percent, 8 percent and 10 percent of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders respectively had vaped marijuana in 2017.
According to a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, e-cigarettes use may lead to marijuana initiation. The authors hypothesize that e-cigarette use may be a marker of risk-taking behaviors, and that e-cigarette users are more likely to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol, which are associated with marijuana use. There is also the concern that vaping nicotine, which is in Juuls and many other vaping devices, may pave the way to other substance use problems in the developing adolescent brain. Aggressive marketing in states where marijuana has been legalized may also contribute to increased curiosity about marijuana while at the same time reducing its perceived harm.
First things first — how is marijuana vaped?
Vaping refers to the inhalation of an aerosol produced by heating a liquid/oil or substance in a compact electronic portable vaporizer. While many young “vapers” say they inhale flavored liquids like Gummy Bear, German Chocolate Cake and Cotton Candy, youth can vaporize marijuana – either the ground plant itself, waxes often referred to as dabs, or THC and CBD oils.
Selling equipment to vape marijuana in its leaf, dab or oil form is a booming business with many new entrants. Pax Labs, formerly Ploom, was founded over a decade ago and is a relatively well-known brand for vaping dry leaf marijuana. The company has introduced the Pax 3, which they describe as the “Apple I-Phone” of vaporizers as it allows you to vape both dry leaf and wax concentrates. It includes a free Android or iOS app to control temperature, play, free games, manage firmware and lock the device.
In California, a company called EAZE sells disposable all-in-one marijuana vape pens and cartridges. Flavors include Blueberry Kush, Lemon OG and Mango Passion Fruit. They market these as wellness products with advertising that reads, “Hello Marijuana, Goodbye Insomnia” or “Hello Marijuana, Goodbye Hangover.”
Although not a vape per se, another company, Aeroinhaler, has developed a product that looks exactly like an inhaler one would use to treat asthma. It’s marketed as a healthy alternative to vaping or smoking combustible marijuana, delivering a metered dose with each puff. The company says that their product uses concentrates of 80 percent THC potency.
Juul can also be used to vape marijuana; however, it should be noted that as of now, Juul does not offer marijuana products. The device has to be hacked in order to use it with THC oils and, as with most things, there are YouTube videos demonstrating how. There are also companies making pods that fit a Juul, so a THC oil pod may be in the future.