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Marijuana, Now in E-Cigarettes, Scares Experts
E-cigarettes with marijuana are now available, making it possible for workers in factories or operating heavy construction equipment, as well as car and truck drivers, to get high without bosses or the police being able to detect it.
By: Professor John Banzhaf, GWU Law School
Experts are also worried that, with some 10% of middle and high school students already using e-cigarettes to ingest the addictive drug nicotine, it's only a matter of time before they move up to using these new e-cigarette cartridges to get a marijuana high without the characteristic marijuana smell in their rooms, or on their clothing or breath, thus making it more difficult for parents or teachers to find out. Both Forbes magazine and Medical Daily have reported how such use can easily lead to a heroin addiction.
Detective Lt. Kevin Smith, the head of the Narcotics Unit for the Nassau County PD, doesn't beat around the bush: "For young people, marijuana is a gateway. The next thing you know they’re doing acid, molly, even heroin. I don’t like it that people are giving it a pass."
Marianne Chai, a Manhattan-based addiction psychologist, said e-cigarettes make it harder for parents to look for the old signs that their teens are using drugs, presumably including marijuana leaves and buds, the sharp and distinctive odor of marijuana smoke, and other similar signs.
Interestingly, as the Chicago Tribune points out in "HOW E-CIGARETTES LEAD TO HEROIN": "But [NBC] got scooped on this story by anti-smoking activist John Banzhaf, who more than three years ago added facilitation of cannabis consumption to his list of reasons for fearing and loathing e-cigarettes."
At that time, public interest law professor Banzhaf filed a complaint about the problem with the Food and Drug Administration [FDA]; an act which helped pressure the agency into finally asserting regulatory jurisdiction over e-cigarettes.
While most of the articles and experts have emphasized the danger marijuana e-cigarettes pose to kids – a kind of "candy cigarette on steroids" as Banzhaf puts it – he stresses the risk when adults are able to get high without being detected. "Imagine automobile or even truck drivers tooling down the road happily inhaling the active ingredient in marijuana. Even if a cop does stop them before they kill or injure someone, there's no telltale odor to create probable cause to even detain them, and no other signals such as the slurring of speech which can signal driving while intoxicated with alcohol," says Banzhaf.
Equally worrisome is the specter of workers operating dangerous factory machinery or construction equipment getting higher and higher as they work, with nobody able to detect it. Even in states where marijuana use has been decriminalized, nobody would want these totally unnecessary dangers to third parties, says Banzhaf.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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