Youth THC Vaping More Than Doubles Since 2013

While nicotine vaping by youth takes the headlines, teen vaping of marijuana more than doubled between 2013 and 2020, according to a new study. Youth use of nicotine vaping products, however, dropped the past two years. The results may indicate that young people may be swapping out joints, pipes or bongs for vape pens, according to a new study.

Credit: H Ko

Researchers also found that adolescents who say they vaped cannabis within the last 30 days increased 7-fold — from 1.6% to 8.4% — during the same period. The report was published in JAMA Pediatrics on Monday by researchers who analyzed 17 studies involving nearly 200,000 adolescents in the U.S. and Canada.

Overall, they say, the cumulative data points to what may be a shift in preference from dried herb to cannabis oil products, which is how marijuana is ingested via vaping, according to NPR. This may be due to the more intense high that can be achieved by cannabis oils, which contain higher levels of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and the “misconception” that vaping devices are safer than smoking.

“Regular use of high THC products could increase the risk of dependence, other substance use and many other health, social and behavioral problems later in life,” study author Carmen Lim, a doctoral candidate in health and behavioral sciences at the University of Queensland in Australia, told NPR.

The Monitoring the Future survey — a large U.S. survey on drug and alcohol use related attitudes in adolescents — is one of the 17 studies included in the new meta-analysis. Although it showed that marijuana use has remained relatively stable among 12th graders in the last few years, hovering around the 35 percent mark, the growing popularity of electronic pot vaping devices is alarming, Lim said.