The real issue with vape pens? Easy access to weed for kids

Stock image courtesy Pixabay

Inflammatory language has sounded an alarm about a public health crisis among already marginalized groups such as the LGBT, the unemployed, young adults, those with chronic health conditions, and people living in the south and west.

What are they being accused of this time? Being e-cigarette fanatics.

Research published last month in Annals of Internal Medicine showed about 4.5 percent of adults in America use e-cigarettes, according to the federal government’s 2016 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System national survey.Among those, the groups mentioned above had usage rates as high as 7 percent.

These aren’t big numbers. In reality, these groups – traditionally heavy combustible cigarette users – are trying to exit a dirty habit.

And while we know combustion is bad (water pipes, or bongs, help, but not for on-the-go cig smokers) we don’t know if vaping is better.

So say these federally funded medical researchers, who sometimes hail from medical hospitals in the heart of tobacco country.

It’s a conundrum inasmuch as most smokers want to quit and use e-cigarettes to do just that. But as it stands, little is known about what’s in “the juice” associated with e-cigarettes.

Further, as America legalizes marijuana from sea to shining sea and even the black forest turns green, legal medical cannabis patients are being pushed toward vaping, while at the same researchers blast that for having too many “unknowns.”

In the end, are we to assume we’re all just better off drinking beer and smoking cigarettes? It’s the message all of those disgusted, marginalized populations are hearing.

Keep Vape Pens Away from Children 

However, in a more recent study published just this week inJAMA Pediatrics, the real danger lurking behind vape pens is exposed: They’re an easy way to any kid to get their hands on weed.And it’s no better or no worse than that beer in your unlocked refrigerator in the hands of a kid.

Their brains are Jell-O that hasn’t set yet, to quote another behavioral professional I once interviewed. He has since opened his own “Get sober with marijuana” rehab center. He’s sober himself with no marijuana, but he’s smart enough to see what the future is.

Marginalizing marijuana is creating nothing but more and more public health problems in this country, all the while thumbing our noses at a gold mine of tax revenue.

And yet…vape pens, vape pens, everywhere. While the “Vape pen cannabis teen nightmare” story also may have been sensationalized a bit, teens view marijuana as safer than alcohol in many communities and cultures.

What’s the end result? Kids hitting a vape pen and getting high instead of getting drunk.

Is one better than the other? Hell no, especially not at that age. And the study out last week says that of children ages 9 to 19 who use e-cigarettes, about one in three put weed in their vape devices, too.

So as America greens, those of who use marijuana medicinally need to explain to our children that that is what it’s for. Otherwise, we shouldn’t do it in their presence, and we should explain it’s a fun thing now and then for grownups, just like a beer.

And for people like myself who do reap the benefits of constant consumption, we have to remember to just snuff it around kids.

What would I do if I had a kid of my own? Explain to him/her that it helps me a whole lot, use it discretely and seriously, and not push it one way or another.

But I’d never lie to them. That’s how we got into the pain pill/opioid epidemic.

Marijuana is a big part of life for some of us, and increasingly, it’s a big part of our world. We have to be honest with our kids about it, because it’s everywhere. Vape pens make it stealthy, too.

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