There has been a major uptick reported in cannabis vaping for all adolescents according to a new study.

Research at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health has found that cannabis vaping is increasing as the most popular method of cannabis delivery among all adolescents in the U.S.

The study found that the frequency of vaping cannabis among adolescents from all demographic groups is reported at six or more times per month, and rising faster than occasional use.

Those who vape and smoke nicotine are more than 40 times more likely to also vape and smoke cannabis.

The findings were published in the journal Addiction.

“Heavy and frequent use of cannabis is increasing among U.S. adolescents, and vaped systems for products for both cannabis and nicotine are growing in number so understanding the prevalence and patterns of frequent cannabis vaping is important public health information for prevention,” said Katherine Keyes, PhD, professor of epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School.

“Given rising concerns about cannabis vaping in terms of safety, and potential for transition to cannabis use disorder especially at frequent levels of use, these results indicate a necessity for public health intervention and increased regulation.”

The findings are based on the U.S.-based representative annual survey, Monitoring the Future, a population of 51,052 school-attending adolescents. Schools were randomly selected and invited to participate for two years.

Past 30-day frequent cannabis use with vaping increased (2.1 percent to 5.4 percent), while occasional use with vaping rose from 1.2 to 3.5 percent from 2017 to 2019.

Past 30-day frequent (3.8 to 2.1 percent) and occasional (6.9 to 4.4 percent) cannabis use without vaping declined. Certain groups, such as Hispanic/Latino or lower socioeconomic status adolescents, experienced particularly notable increases in frequent cannabis use with vaping (e.g., prevalence among Hispanic/Latino adolescents in 2017: 2.2 percent, 2019: 6.7 percent).

According to Keyes, tobacco use and e-cigarettes, as well as binge drinking, are strongly linked to frequent cannabis use –both vaping and non-vaping.

“Given that it is easier for adolescents to conceal vaping than cannabis smoking, this mode of cannabis use may facilitate more frequent use,” said Keyes.

High levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can be delivered through vaping devices, which may lead to dangerous consequences for youth users with lower tolerance.

“In addition, of note, is the evidence that the increases we are seeing in vaping as compared with smoking are concentrated among non-Hispanic white and higher socioeconomic status adolescents, the latter possibly reflecting the higher price point for vaping devices compared with other administration methods, “noted Keyes.

“As cannabis legalization continues across U.S. states, and as products, delivery systems, potency and marketing proliferate within a for-profit industry, increased attention to youth trends, including investment in sustained and evidence-based prevention and intervention, is increasingly urgent.”


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