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Gen Z & “Weed” Vape Pens: THC Dab Pens Are the New JUUL – Part 2.

By January 9, 2024February 14th, 2024Dangerous Drugs

THC is not candy! Kids want what they perceive as forbidden. What’s interesting about this is how the same study reported that in Colorado, where recreational weed is legal and has been for some time, the vaping of cannabis is far less common than smoking or ingesting edibles among youth.

But in North Carolina, where recreational weed is still illegal, one in 10 students are using cannabis vapes. While underage use is obviously illegal in both states, I think this statistic makes it clear that a progressive cannabis policy could help regulate what products are getting out to teens. But the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) is dragging its heels.

Along with cannabis vape cartridges and the oils in them, the products are intentionally packaged in bright-colored wrappers with an array of inventive fruity flavors to look like mainstream candy/snack brands such as Sour Patch Kids and Cheetos, but, again, it’s concentrated THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) – the same mind-bending chemical in marijuana. Not only can this result in someone accidentally consuming THC when they thought they were simply eating candy, but it sends the message to teenagers that these products are not to be taken seriously. While some brands have adequate warning labels, there is no consistent practice for this the way there is for cigarettes and alcohol. 

“Research has previously shown that individuals who consume THC are three times as likely as those who do not to develop a psychotic disorder,” said Dr. Chad Percifield, a Grand Rapids physician who authored a recent study on THC vaping and determined that vaping THC places people at a significantly increased risk for the development of psychotic disorders.

And this: “Vaping solutions increase this risk more than sixfold due to the potency of the vaping solution, which on average contains 52% THC versus the 13% THC contained in the marijuana flower,” Dr. Percifield said.

Wait, are we talking about marijuana? Yes. In 1980, illegal marijuana contained roughly 1.5% THC, but today vaping cartridges and their oils contain between 50% – 90%! Yes, you read that right. 

            As a college student, I can tell you that weed is everywhere. We’re all stressed out, hardly sleeping, and looking for ways to cope. But as common as it is to find a weed-lover on campus, you can find others who won’t touch the stuff. A close friend of mine experienced psychosis after several years of cannabis use in high school. While I’d rather my friends smoke weed than drink to excess, I also want to know they aren’t doing anything that will cause long-term damage. 

            Like any drug, THC has side effects, anywhere from so mild that you hardly notice to hospital-visit severe. It’s critical that these products be labeled accordingly, and that consumers have ample warning and opportunity to educate themselves before partaking. I hope I don’t sound like a buzzkill – I’m very pro-weed and fully support anyone’s right to consume cannabis products, within reason. The market is mindless, however.

            And I also know weed-consumption can’t be taken lightly, especially when it comes to underage use.  And I can say that coming from a place of personal experience and regret. I also believe that if the cannabis industry doesn’t clean up its act and address problems like the ones I’ve discussed, it’s just going to take longer to get to federal legalization. 

Missed Part 1? Get caught up now: Gen Z & Cannabis “Weed” Vaping: THC Dab Pens Are the New JUUL – Part 1.

-Palmer Boothe, ACFW Intern


Niskan Akpan & Jamie Leventhal, “Is CBD legal? Here’s what you need to know, according to science,” PBS, July 12, 2019.

Bobby Caina Calvan, “Flavored cannabis marketing criticized for targeting children,” Associated Press, January 19, 2023.

Grinspoon, MD, contributor, “Cannabidiol: What We Know and What We Don’t,” Harvard Medical School, September 24, 2021.