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.
Marijuana is used recreationally and medicinally, so what’s the big deal for adolescents and young adults?
It turns out that the brain of an adolescent or young adult is still growing, and therefore on a mission to increase efficiency and to develop critical skills related to problem-solving, impulse control, anticipating consequences and more. Marijuana can get in the way of this development, causing brain circuits to wire in a less optimal way.
One way to think about this is comparing the developing brain and its neural connections to your home electrical wiring grid. You want the best possible wiring for your house, so that when you need to use your appliances, everything works as it should with no shorts or blown fuses. The house can still function if everything isn’t up to code, but it won’t be ideal. Marijuana use can impact the wiring of the brain in a similar way, with the impact being subtle in some cases and more severe in others.
According to the CDC, marijuana use may have long-lasting or permanent effects on the developing adolescent brain. Negative effects include:
It’s really important for parents and caregivers to note that these impacts of marijuana differ from the impacts on a fully mature adult brain. Delaying substance use of any kind, including marijuana, gives your child the best opportunity to have optimal brain functioning.
How can I recognize use, especially if there is no smoke and telltale smell?
Vaping can be difficult to detect as there is no smoke, minimal odor (although you may catch a whiff) and the vapor produced dissipates rapidly. However, just like smoking, vaping marijuana can result in bloodshot eyes, dry mouth and thirst, increased appetite and shifts in behavior and mood. Sometimes, there is a noticeable change in friends and a decrease in activities that were once enjoyed.
You may also find vaping paraphernalia such as devices that look like flash drives, gel jars that contain dabs, and pods or cartridges that contain THC oil. There’s a lot of high-tech-looking equipment that can accompany vaping, so if you’re not sure, it might be time to talk to your child about what you found.
What can I do if I suspect my child is at risk for vaping or is already vaping marijuana?
Given the growth of marijuana use and vaping among American youth, it’s a good idea to explore your son’s or daughter’s views on vaping and perceptions of the risks.
1. Have conversations often. Before any talk, it helps to be able to share
facts, but don’t assume that an information download to your child will translate into healthy behaviors.
2. Look for good opportunities to have a discussion. You can do this when passing a vape shop, smelling marijuana on the street, seeing someone vaping on TV or in person or seeing one of the ads for vapes.
3. Try to listen, rather than give a lecture. Open-ended questions can be a great way to get your child’s perspective, i.e. “I understand that some kids are vaping marijuana. What are your thoughts about it?” If you know they are already vaping marijuana, you might ask “What does vaping marijuana or THC oil do for you?” Perhaps it’s a way to fit in, handle social anxiety or address boredom. Get to the root of “why.”
4. Set clear expectations. Express your understanding of the risks, but also why a person may want to vape. Share why you don’t want him/her vaping, and remember, it’s important to avoid scare tactics. Be honest.
5. Teach refusal skills. It’s likely that your teen or young adult will be introduced to vaping marijuana by a friend or older sibling. It helps to rehearse what he/she will say if that happens.
6. Have your loved one talk to other trusted adults who can reinforce your message. Sometimes, messages coming from your pediatrician, school counselor, favorite aunt or uncle, etc. can be more impactful.
7. Model healthy behaviours. If you come home from work and discuss what a tough day it’s been while popping open a beer, pouring a glass of wine or smoking a joint, you are conveying this is how you handle stress. It’s healthier for your child — and you — if you take a walk with the dog or a bath or go for a run rather than turn to substances as stress busters.
Author: Mark Gold, MD May 2018
Supplying alcohol to their adolescent children is not associated with any reduction of harm. Quite the opposite—parents who allow and support adolescent drinking actually increased their risk of incurring alcohol-related harm. Further, the myth that parental supply of alcohol, or supervision of alcohol consumption will teach adolescents how to drink responsibly is just that—a myth.
Recently, Mattick, et al, conducted a prospective study using data culled from the Australian Parental Supply of Alcohol Longitudinal Study of adolescents to examine correlations between parental supply of alcohol and subsequent drinking outcomes over the 6-year period of adolescence. Children in grade seven and their parents were recruited and surveyed annually. In total, 1927 eligible parents and adolescents were recruited by June of 2011 and were followed until 2016.
The researchers found that the odds of subsequent binge consumption, alcohol-related harm and symptoms of alcohol-use disorder were increased for adolescents who were supplied alcohol only by parents (odds ratios, 2.58, 2.53, and 2.51, respectively) when compared with parents who did not supply alcohol to their children.
In this prospective study, associations between both parental supply of alcohol and supply from other sources, and after adjusting for known covariates, revealed pattern of harm associated with parental supply. By the sixth follow-up (mean age 17·8 years), parental supply of alcohol was found to be associated with binge drinking, alcohol-related harm, and symptoms of alcohol use disorder. The findings also revealed that parental supply not only increases adverse outcomes itself, it also risks increasing obtaining alcohol from other non-parental sources.
Plainly stated, there is no evidence to support the view that parents who supply alcohol to their teens protect them from adverse drinking outcomes. The authors write. “Parents should be advised that this practice is associated with risk, both directly and indirectly through increased access to alcohol from other sources.”
Australian teenagers are reporting far lower drinking rates than their peers two decades ago, mostly because alcohol is now harder for them to access, a new Deakin University study has found.
The study, published today in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review, analysed survey data collected from more than 41,000 teenagers in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland between 1999 and 2015.
Lead researcher Professor John Toumbourou, Chair in Health Psychology at Deakin’s School of Psychology, said this was a huge public health success story for Australia.
"It shows parents are making radical changes in their attitude to underage drinking and also how they model their own drinking behaviour," he said.
"This is a game changer, we can see that parents are taking on the advice from our national health guidelines that even a small amount of alcohol is harmful to teenagers.
"And we believe this is what has seen Australia go from having one of the highest rates of alcohol use by high school students in the world, to one of the lowest.
"It highlights that substantial reductions in alcohol and drug use are possible across large youth populations."
Professor Toumbourou said the findings could now help inform future intervention programs to maintain a decline in teen alcohol use.
"This shows that programs such as school drug education, restrictive underage purchase laws, market regulation, and parent education are all critical in ensuring we protect our young people from drug and alcohol
Parents who give their children alcohol increase the risk that they will binge drink in their teenage years, an Australian study has found.
There is no evidence to support the view that parents who give their children alcohol are reducing the risk of binge drinking or alcohol-related harms in their teenage years, found the study involving just under 2000 adolescents between 12 and 18 years old.
There is no evidence to support the view that parents who give their children alcohol are reducing the risk of binge drinking or alcohol-related harms in their teenage years.
Teenagers whose parents allow them to drink are twice as likely to access alcohol through other sources and engage in binge drinking, the researchers reported on Friday in Lancet Public Health.
Teenagers given alcohol by their parents were 95 per cent more likely to binge drink – more than four standard drinks in one sitting – in the future than those who had found another way to score a drink.
"This reinforces the fact that alcohol consumption leads to harm, no matter how it is supplied," said lead author Professor Richard Mattick, a drug and alcohol dependency and behaviour expert at UNSW. "We advise that parents should avoid supplying alcohol to their teenagers if they wish to reduce their risk of alcohol-related harms."