Cannabis vaping among teens in North America rises by up to seven-fold

Legal access to cannabis explains in part the increase in vaping.

Verifique testing kits, which came on the market on October 5, can detect cannabis in vaping pens and other mediums like edibles.

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New research shows that cannabis use through vaping has increased among teens in North America.

Australian investigators made the finding after poring through studies in the U.S. and Canada, which involved 198,845 adolescents.

They established that the lifetime prevalence of cannabis vaping doubled from 6.1 percent in 2013 to 13.6 percent in 2020.

To explain, lifetime prevalence means having engaged in the practice at least once.

Moreover, researchers found that past 12-month use doubled from 7.2 percent in 2017 to 13.2 percent in 2020.

The investigators likewise saw that the 30-day prevalence of cannabis vaping increased seven-fold from 1.6 percent in 2013 to 8.4 percent in 2020.

They reported their findings through a paper titled “Prevalence of Adolescent Cannabis Vaping: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of US and Canadian Studies”.

The journal JAMA Pediatrics published the research Monday (October 25).

Vaping means inhaling and exhaling vapor through a device that uses a heating element.

“A possible explanation for the upward trajectory in the prevalence of cannabis vaping observed in our study timeframe is the increasing uptake of vaping products generally used among youth and young adults, widening access to cannabis vaping products through legalization of cannabis, and the decrease in perceived risk of harm toward cannabis in the last decade,” the researchers reported.

They also noted that similar to nicotine consumption through vaping devices, cannabis vaping is “perceived as the healthier alternative to smoking cannabis because of the lower exposure to toxic combustion products”.

“The flavor profile and the discreetness of new-generation vaping products, coupled with the ability to customize devices for use with other nonnicotine substances, could increase the appeal of cannabis vaping,” the researchers stated.

They also pointed out that cannabis vaping is “associated with a range of adverse health outcomes”.

These include respiratory symptoms, such as wheezing and dry cough.

“Adolescents who continue to use cannabis frequently may be at risk of developing cannabis use disorders and harms,” the researchers likewise wrote.

As an example, heavy use of cannabis is “associated with poorer cognitive development in adolescents”.

Earlier this month, Veriteque USA Inc., maker of testing kits for narcotics and explosives, released a new product that can be used at home to detect cannabis.

The kit called Verifique can analyze samples from food, pills, gels, oils, powders, and paraphernalia like vape pens, pipes and bongs.

A separate product features the ability to test for fentanyl, a powerful opioid.

Follow Carlito Pablo on Twitter at @carlitopablo

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