What is marijuana vaping?

WHAT WE KNOW:  Although often smoked in joints or pipes, more teens are using odorless cannabis vaporizers – or vaping – to avoid inhaling smoke, and also to evade detection of marijuana use. Vaping is done with a handheld, battery-operated pen-like device, which activates the heating and dispensing of THC or other drug source. Vaping pens often look like the e-cigarettes that use nicotine or flavored liquids, but are optimized for cannabis concentrates with THC levels as high as 90%. 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  High school students report vaping dried cannabis as well as higher-THC products like hash oil and wax, but the rates and long-term effects are still being studied. We also need to learn how to identify and prevent hidden marijuana use by students and youth.

Are e-cigs and vape pens safe to use?

WHAT WE KNOW:  These devices are often considered a safer alternative to smoking marijuana. However, experts agree that long-term use of any vaporizing (or e-cigarette) devices may be unhealthy. It is difficult to measure how much THC is inhaled, especially from high-THC concentrates, and the risk of overusing is high, especially for inexperienced users. The possibilities of inhaling unknown chemical ingredients are likely. Burns and injuries from exploding e-cigs and vaping devices are increasing. 

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  The safety of products like vaping pens compared with marijuana smoking via joints, bongs, pipes, etc., is not well known at this time.

What’s the danger to youth?

WHAT WE KNOW:  In addition to the risks of youth use of marijuana, vaping itself is risky due to inhalation of other chemicals in various products. Additionally, although lithium-ion batteries are usually safe, they can overheat and explode, causing severe burns. Note: In California, to protect young users, it is illegal to sell or provide smoking or vaping paraphernalia to anyone under 21 years of age.

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING:  In addition to unknown health effects of cannabis vaping, early studies indicate that e-cigarette use by youth may lead to use of tobacco products.

“If I am running a school or a house, and I have a nose, I can tell if my kids are smoking pot. But if they’re using a vape pen, forget about it.”

Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy, UCLA.