As we turn our eyes toward a new year and all it will bring. Let’s spend a few minutes looking at something relatively new, vaping cannabis. Unfortunately, we cannot go into depth explaining all the differences between CBD, THC, Deta-9, dabbing, blunts, chasing, and many other terms and important details to look at when discussing cannabis but we do need to understand several basic things.
How it works. Just like nicotine vaping devices, cannabis vapes work by heating a liquid or oil that becomes a vapor the user inhales. It is often difficult to tell a nicotine vape from a cannabis vape. Also, kids know how to hack them. I talked to a youth not long ago and he told me that he had a watermelon vape, used it till about half the vape was gone then opened it up and filled it with a THC liquid (he was very proud of himself). There are tons of YouTube showing how to do this.
We do need to know the difference between THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive chemical compound in cannabis while CBD is non-psychoactive. There is also Delta-8 THC that can be sold as CBD. One thing all caregivers need to understand is this. Today’s cannabis is not the cannabis of the 60’s and 70’s. At the very least, 1 joint today is 10 times stronger than a joint in 1970. That means that for every 1 joint, you or your grandparent may have smoked, your child or grandchild would be smoking 10. Then you look at something like “dapping” where the cannabis is cooked down to a wax and is 80% stronger THC than a joint from the 1970s.
This brings us to the realities of the risks. I will highlight two of the vital organs at risk: the brain of the young person and their developing lungs. The brain of a young adult continues to grow into their early 20s and is busy developing critical skills related to problem-solving, impulse control, anticipating consequences, and more. Cannabis can get in the way of this critical development.
Several thousand lung injuries and deaths have been associated with an illness linked to vaping devices containing THC. Even though the CDC has stopped collecting this data, cases are still being recorded. Some symptoms to watch for are shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, and gastrointestinal problems.
In months to come, we will look at how we can address this issue with our youth.