A new study suggests, more than 2 million US middle and high school students or nearly 1 in 11 have vaped marijuana.
Of those students who use cigarettes use in 2016, researchers estimated a report that 1 in 3 high school students, or roughly 1.7 million have used pot in the devices.
The team reports online September 17 in JAMA Pediatrics nearly 1 in 4 million middle school students reported vaping or 425,000 have done the same.
The numbers are first nationwide estimates of teens and pre-teens use of cannabis in e cigarettes, based on the data from 20,675 Sixth to 12th grade students who participated in the 2016 National youth tobacco survey.
E cigarettes, the most widely used tobacco products among US youth, it is a battery powered devices that vaporize liquids and heat that usually contains nicotine. But the device can also vaporize dried marijuana leaves, buds as well as oils and waxes made from the THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol) primary chemical component of Cannabis plant.
Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, developmental psychologist from Stanford University School of Medicine said that the number of youth who are using marijuana in e cigarettes isn’t surprising. He also added, “It’s easy; it’s accessible; they can be stealthy in using it.”
She said, legalization of marijuana in some states has led to increased access to the drug, then vaping marijuana can be done discretely than smoking a joint because there isn’t much of the telltale odor.
Number of youth vaping marijuana is concerning, she also added, “You’re basically using it in a very strong form.” Concentration of THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol), the primary chemical component in Marijuana in vaporized oils and waxes can be four to 30 times as high as that in dried marijuana.
Halpern-Felsher says, because their brains are still developing, “Youth are at a very vulnerable time,” Adolescents are at a higher risk of addiction comparing to the adults and damage to brain function form the drug can be worse. Once marijuana introduced, “you’re altering the brain forever,” she says.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nearly 12 percent of high school students and 3 percent of middle school students reported e-cigarette use in 2017. Food and Drug Administration warned retailers who have illegally sold e-cigarettes to the minors and warned manufacturers of e cigarette that flavored liquids could be removed from the market, citing worries of a crisis of teenage vaping.
In a speech at the agency’s headquarters, Scott Gottlieb a FDA commissioner said, “We see clear signs that youth use of electronic cigarettes has reached an epidemic proportion”.
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