New Haven – A study published in the journal Pediatrics showed an increasing rate of teens using e-cigarettes to smoke marijuana. Electronic cigarettes are marketed by the tobacco industry as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes.

The research conducted by Yale University, found that from 3,847 Connecticut high school students surveyed, 28% affirmed to use e-cigarettes. From those, 18% reported to have used the device to vaporize and smoke marihuana. The device, which is battery-powered, heat up when the user inhales vaporizing liquid contained in small tubes in it. These products were designed to hold liquid nicotine, however teens are replacing them with hash oil or liquid marihuana, instead.

Young woman using an e-cigarette. It is not easy to say if the smoke is from liquid tobacco o marijuana. Photo Credit: Goodluz/Shutterstock/Alternet

According to Meghan E. Morean, an assistant professor of psychology at Oberlin College who conducted the study at Yale, explained that teenagers preferred to use e-cigarettes to smoke pot for two reasons. First, because it covers up the strong smell that marihuana releases when smoked with other methods. Second, in appearance it provides a disguise for what they are actually smoking.

Furthermore, researchers were concerned about the potential health risks regarding to the “increased potency of hash oil and THC-infused waxes compared to combustible cannabis.” They determined that vaping concentrated liquid forms of marijuana can be significantly more potent than smoking dried marijuana leaves.

“If the concentrated form that is vaped has much higher levels of THC — which has been suggested anecdotally — then the person may be exposing their brain to higher doses of THC,” Susan Weiss said in an interview with Healthline. “That makes the effects less predictable. For example, some people find that high doses make them anxious and paranoid.”Weiss, Ph.D., is the director of the Office of the Division of Extramural Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health.

She also claimed that the team continues to work on determining the effects that this substance may cause in the developing bodies of teenagers.

“We are still trying to understand how marijuana affects the adolescent brain. We know the brain continues to develop into young adulthood, to about age 25. A growing body of evidence suggests that early and frequent marijuana use may disrupt teen brain development in some users,” Weiss added.

Source: Pediatrics