The Two Faces of E-(Cigs)

These days, who knows what the smoker next to you is actually enjoying?
12
Posted May 28, 2014 by MELISSA WYLIE AND SAMANTHA EHLINGER in News
Cover05_28_14

Clyde, a longtime Fort Worth resident, enjoys smoking a little weed, but he’s certainly not one to spark up a fatty in public. So he was startled recently by what happened when he met a friend at a bar. As the two of them talked and drank, his friend took occasional drags from an electronic cigarette. Then she offered it to him.

“I took a hit off it and … whoa!” he said.

Clyde got an immediate buzz and looked quizzically at his friend.

“I said, ‘What the shit is this?’ ” he recalled.

She explained that she’d loaded her e-cig with liquid THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical in marijuana that makes users feel high.

Clyde was pissed. He’d exhaled with the bartender nearby, and now he was worried that maybe police were on the way.

His friend just laughed. She said “vaping” was odorless and that nobody would be the wiser. Clyde hadn’t kept up with the trend.

“Sure enough, I couldn’t smell anything. It dissipates so quickly,” he said. “I got pretty stoned, but I hadn’t intended to.”

North Texas Vapor Shop employee Chase Fowler takes a drag on his e-cig behind the counter. Melissa Wylie

North Texas Vapor Shop employee Chase Fowler takes a drag on his e-cig behind the counter. Melissa Wylie

Clyde’s friend is one of many people quietly getting high in public these days with the help of e-cigs. There’s no smell from vaporized marijuana to give it away, just as when e-cig smokers use tobacco. The vapor technology, designed to help tobacco addicts kick cigarettes, has become a popular vehicle for pot enthusiasts, who replace the liquid nicotine with marijuana concentrate, also referred to as “dabs” or “wax.” Because it’s odorless, most people don’t realize it’s happening around them. The estimated 8 million regular marijuana users across the country no longer have to sneak off to a restroom stall, parking lot, or any of the other places they’ve been going for decades to fire up a joint, fearing the odor will give them away.

Despite that, police have noticed the trend. E-cigs are under fire from local and national authorities, and some cities, including Frisco, have banned them. While authorities continue to debate e-cig regulations, stoners can cop a buzz almost anywhere with little fear of being found out. Without the telltale odor, law enforcement officers — even if they realize what might be going on — have few excuses for checking to see what substances are inside the pen-like devices. One local businessman said he’s passed through U.S. customs twice recently while carrying his pot-filled e-cig with no problems.

Shaun McAlister, executive director of the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said the e-cig vaping trend is here to stay.

“The future of marijuana is not going to be in smoked form, it’s going to be vapors, lip balm, edibles, salves, creams, and everything you can think of,” he said. “You’d never have to smoke again in your life, and you’d still get all the benefits [from cannabis].”

Bottles of nicotine liquids line shelves at North Texas Vapor Shop in Denton. Liquids come in a variety of flavors, like blueberry and piña colada. Melissa Wylie

Bottles of nicotine liquids line shelves at North Texas Vapor Shop in Denton. Liquids come in a variety of flavors, like blueberry and piña colada. Melissa Wylie

Medicinal users, such as people dealing with the symptoms of cancer or glaucoma, might benefit most from being able to vape concentrated THC in public rather than staying inside their homes all day for fear of being busted.

“They can get out and freely interact with the public and walk their dogs and be normal human beings without being hassled for a substance they are ingesting,” McAlister said.

Others simply like to get buzzed. Only a few minutes pass from the time Doug wakes up until he takes his first hit of marijuana each morning.

“As soon as I get up in the morning, I hit the bathroom,” said Doug (who, along with several other smokers interviewed for this story, asked that their real names be withheld for fear of reprisal). “After that I’m on the couch having a bowl. It’s uplifting. It helps my perception. It helps my mood. My productivity goes up.”

Some “wake-and-bake” smokers consider themselves to be medicinal users, even though Texas makes no legal exceptions for them. Others view their morning pot buzz as no different than drinking a cup of coffee and their hits throughout the day as mild stimulants to keep them going strong.

A primary concern with vaping liquid cannabis in e-cigs is that penalties are stiffer than for smoking it. Possessing up to four ounces of regular pot is still a misdemeanor in Texas. But someone caught with concentrates or hash, even less than a gram, could be charged with a felony.

Trends, of course, can be short-lived. As inevitable police encounters occur, legal crackdowns are likely to follow. However, widespread e-cig regulation doesn’t appear to be just around the corner. John Lindsay, regional director of D.A.R.E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) America, who compiles information from Texas and surrounding states, said only a few jurisdictions have passed such laws.

“What I’m hearing is that young people are mixing various things in with that nicotine, be it marijuana or other things,” he said.

Though Lindsay said he has not heard of other substances besides marijuana and tobacco being vaped, any drug that can be liquefied could be put into an e-cig. Social media sites make it easy to share instructions for making custom liquids, especially among younger generations with technological expertise, he said. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 1.8 million middle school and high school students use e-cigs.

 ********


12 Comments


  1.  
    Ryan

    If you can’t tell what they’re vaping (by their behavior), then WHO CARES?




  2.  
    Uncle Scrappy

    I still believe that a lot of the controversy over E-Cigs is coming from the Tobacco Industry as well as all the Governmental Taxing Authorities. Tobacco is heavily taxed by every form of Government (Federal as well as state). E-Cigs etc is only taxed as regular sales tax like you pay on most everything. They have started realizing how much $$$ they are losing as people quit smoking tobacco & move to alternatives.




    •  
      Ray186

      Another thing they haven’t realized is that you can walk into any Walmart and buy 3 of the 4 ingredients needed to make your own juice. The only other thing that you would need is the liquid nicotine. Another ingredient that is perfectly legal to buy. The only possible way to get around this is to ban the sale of refillable tanks and only allow closed systems like the cig-a-likes. The exact ones big tobacco is marketing.




  3.  
    Reader

    Distasteful article, oh finally a cover story worth reporting.. You do realize that even walmart is trying to sell pot in Colorado right? In that state it is perfectly legal to consume THC in any form. And you start the read with “joe blow who likes weed, got totally pissed because his friend tricked him into vaping hash” The reason he got so afraid the cops were coming is because he’s an actual idiot. Leave well enough alone man. I get why you’d write the article, it is a noteworthy story.. But it comes off like you want people to be worried. Just because an old law that serves nothing (but drug cartels financing cocaine distribution) is still hanging around dragging its heels…doesn’t make the people discreetly (considerately) vaporizing hash, a bunch of devious criminals on their way to the pen for felonies. It just shows how “civilization” is still harbored in its ignorant disapproval of anything other than what is provided to them as safe..How about a cover story about all of the habitual drinkers that have to put vodka in their coffee in the morning so they don’t go through detox while they’re taking their kids to school.. Or how about the mother at the PTA meeting who is hopped up on pharmasuticals, jelwery, and plastic surgery.. She’s gonna have a lot of bright points to make I’m certain. And she probably thinks that this article is worthwhile, she’s gonna tell her kid that it’s alright to be a self serving moron but not to smoke hash.




    •  

      As “Reader” stated, this might be a noteworthy story, but it’s undoubtedly just a TINY FRACTION of e-cigarette users that vape on cannabis based products or other drugs. The VAST MAJORITY of people using these devices are using them to quit smoking. Implying that there’s some inherent danger or that people should worry is like telling people that aluminum cans (or 20oz plastic bottles) are a risk because people can turn them in to pipes.

      When used appropriately, electronic cigarettes limit people’s exposure to harmful toxins and are an effective tool to help them reduce (or quit) smoking…




      •  
        Weeper

        Are you reading the same story I’m reading? I see an article that desceibes a trend of smoking pot in devices intended for tobacco and being able to get high in public without being noticed. Seems like a straightforward story that isn’t choosing sides one way or the other just describing what’s happening.




  4.  
    Fred

    Who wrote this article? Some scared little bible and gun hugging little fear baby.

    It’s freakin’ e-cigs. You’re missing the point, which is less and less people are smoking tobacco and marijuana in the ‘traditional’ manor. You know the manner that stinks, causes many health well documented health problems (COPD, heart disease, lung cancer, emphysema, etc), and basically annoys everyone.

    If e-cigs and vaporizer can help our population cut down on smoking, it’s best for all of us. Our nation suffers from enough sick people due to obesity, smoking, and sedentary lifestyles. If we can cut down on one group, imagine the savings in healthcare costs it could make.

    As far as what people are using in it, who cares if they use pot.

    Marijuana is much better for people than prescription drugs that pharma companies are constantly trying to shove down people’s throats. You know the ones that have a 30 second list of side-effects that get read off during the commercial that sound worse than the symptoms they are trying to fix in the first place.

    Maybe we should focus our attention on more important things than vaping.




    •  
      Giant Sperm Whale

      You had a good point, but it was completely ruined by your hateful claim that the writer is “some scared little bible and gun hugging little fear baby.”

      Why ruin a good thing?




  5.  
    Reader

    Indeed it is about something being used to smoke pot that was originally intended to be used for nicotine.. An incredibly harmful chemical that hardens your arteries… So what is the scourge here? A discreet pot smoker… Isn’t that what people want that don’t smoke.. To not smell it or breath it in? Or is it the age old.. It’s a gateway, or it’ll make you crazy. How about an article about dude bros at TCU using tampons as alcohol suppositories… That’s discreet. And incredibly dangerous… Straight up, this article bothers me because.. I am a discreet smoker and I know the laws and I still choose not to obide by them out of objection to the criminal cruelty that is placed upon the heads of people who are in no way made for the life of a prisoner… I don’t need some grandma staring discerningly at me while I’m puffing my stash.. It’s bullocks, let’s write about how the laws are trash.. And need to be abolished. Amen.




  6.  
    Herbert A. Gilbert

    JUST A NOTE TO LET YOU KNOW THAT THE FIRST PATENT FOR A SMOKELESS
    NON-TOBACCO CIGARETTE WAS FILED IN APRIL 1963 AND AWARDED IN APRIL 1965
    TO ME. PLEASE REFER TO US PATENT 3,200,819 IT HAS SERVED AS THE ROAD MAP FOR ALL ELECTRIC CIGARETTES PRODUCED TODAY.

    THANKS,

    HERBERT A. GILBERT
    EMPEROR BRANDS ORIGINAL 1963 E-CIGARETTES





Leave a Response

(required)


× 8 = twenty four