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Disguising marijuana use with e-cigs will likely bring more attention to the devices.

“It’s going to be a problem,” said Parker Daniel, an employee at Wild Valley E-cigarette Co. in Fort Worth. “We’ll be smoking this in the car,” he said, referring to a nicotine-filled e-cig, “and a cop will pull us over thinking we’re smoking one of those,” referring to a vape pen containing weed.

Fort Worth Police spokesperson Sgt. Raymond Bush said officers have a hard time distinguishing marijuana vapor from nicotine vapor without weed’s distinct smell. Still, “we’re aware it’s a possibility,” he said.

A Fort Worth resident loads his e-pen with homemade THC concentrate. Jeff Prince
A Fort Worth resident loads his e-pen with homemade THC concentrate. Jeff Prince
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Unless the container of e-cig liquid is sporting a THC label or some other obvious identifier, police have no way of determining the contents, he said. And unless an e-cig user is otherwise breaking the law, an officer would have no good cause to check on what was being vaped. Bush said that in cities where e-cigs are treated the same as tobacco products, officers will leave users alone as long as they are within the limits of smoking ordinances.

Some places, including Rockwall, have banned the sale of e-cig products to minors. Bush said officers in those cities might question someone who looks underage, but police response is still restricted.

Bush said his department’s narcotics division doesn’t have information to confirm that marijuana use in e-cigs is a significant issue.

“We’re always trying to look at the next trend and get ahead of it when we can, but we need something to work with,” he said.

However, at Paschal High School in Fort Worth, authorities have had more success in catching spiked e-cigs. Assistant Principal Jennifer Fuller, who oversees school safety and operation, said several students have been found with marijuana concentrate in their e-cigs. Trained drug-sniffing dogs detected the supposedly scentless oil.

“The part where they are using hemp oil is a relatively new issue from my understanding,” Fuller said. “With these e-cigs, [the dogs] cannot just smell it sitting in a purse or a bag.”

Associating pot with e-cigs can be bad for businesses like Wild Valley E-cigarette Co. because customers confuse the store with a head shop, Daniel said. E-cig sellers like to keep their image separate from stores selling pipes and bongs.

“You’re either one or the other: You’re either an e-cig shop or a head shop,” he said.

Nick Edwards, employee at Create A Cig e-cig shop in Fort Worth, said he has witnessed customer confusion. Shoppers will come into the store looking for pens designed specifically to handle marijuana, which are sold only at head shops.

“I would say it is a trend,” he said. “We get asked about them all the time.”

Two electronic cigarettes sit on the wooden counter at North Texas Vapor Shop. The store sells e-cigs and supplies intended for tobacco and not pot. Melissa Wylie
Two electronic cigarettes sit on the wooden counter at North Texas Vapor Shop. The store sells e-cigs and supplies intended for tobacco and not pot. Melissa Wylie

Unlike Daniel, Edwards isn’t worried about the mix-up. When customers ask for the specialty pens, Edwards directs them to a head shop down the street.

“People that come in here and ask are new people,” Edwards said. “Our regulars know that our shop is strictly for e-cigs.”

He doesn’t think the mistaken correlation between vape shops and head shops will affect Create A Cig’s reputation.

“We’re not breaking any laws,” he said.

Many head shops sell kits that allow the pens to be used to smoke dry herb. An employee at one such shop, who asked not to be named, said the $40 kit comes with all the tools to get a good high.

He tried it out with one of his regular customers.

“It was huge,” he said of the hit from the e-cig. “I couldn’t even talk for a few minutes. I was just coughing my head off.”

But the customer had less success. “It’s funny because he didn’t get a good hit, and it tasted like popcorn,” the employee said.

The herb pens look similar to liquid pens, which is probably what attracts buyers, he said. “You could be driving, walking down the street … and they might smell something, but it looks like a regular electronic cigarette.”

Texas has no legal cannabis dispensaries. Those who want to use it in e-cigs must buy THC concentrates from underground sources or travel to Colorado or one of the other legal states. As a result, some smokers have begun boiling down leafy weed into liquid concentrate on their own.

Minimal scientific knowledge is needed to turn a sack of weed into a vial of liquid THC. A local man — we’ll call him Walter — showed a Fort Worth Weekly writer how the process works. He plopped a golf ball-sized clump of cannabis into a bowl and soaked it overnight in Everclear.

“The alcohol extracts the oils from the marijuana and puts it into a soluble form of THC,” he said.

The next day he poured the contents through a coffee filter to remove the leaves, stems, and seeds, and collected the greenish-colored liquid in a Pyrex glass to prepare for slow cooking.

“I use an electric burner, which is very important,” he said. “You don’t want to use gas around this [grain alcohol] because it’s very flammable.”

He cooked the solution on medium-low for an hour to evaporate the alcohol and reduce the concentrated THC.

“It’s the same process as making botanical oils,” he said.

Walter has a wife, kids, job, mortgage, and typical responsibilities. He’s smoked weed most of his  adult life because it helps him relax. Used in moderation, it has never affected his ability to function in life, he said. He and a growing number of pot smokers see e-cigs as the perfect way to get high with discretion.

Others, such as the D.A.R.E. regional director, say it’s a trend that needs to be analyzed quickly.

“We haven’t really addressed this issue yet,” Lindsay said. “It’s kind of at the beginning stages.”

Fort Worth Weekly staff writer Jeff Prince contributed to this story.

16 COMMENTS

    • Exactly. Oh no what if people are getting high in public and we can’t tell? Umm… if you can’t tell… then that means…?

      I swear sometimes I think some people still live in the Reefer Madness era.

  1. 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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…

      • 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. JD and his team have been a pioneer in marketing the best brand of E-Cigs available.. I have watch and precipitated in education of smokers in general,,,Having many family and friends die from tobacco use; I applaud their efforts… I believe we should “Feel every moment of life as one of free personal choice; reject externals as limiting what I can become; ignore “ambition” and “the right choices” as DEFINED BY OTHERS when it comes to making my own personal choices. believe in unlimited free will.” Search for truth, beauty,justice and peace should always be utmost….

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