Cannabis, Vaping and Youth

Cannabis, Vaping and Youth 

Dr. Marvin Krank, a professor of psychology at UBC Okanagan made a presentation in 2019 to parents in the district. He spoke about cannabis use and the emergence of vaping among youth. This is part of our ongoing series of parent information sessions. We have posted a link to the video of his session with Kamloops parents, along with a few excerpts from his presentation.

Challenging Trends in Substance Use: Vaping and Cannabis Legalization – The battle for the hearts and minds of our youth


Adverse effects of teen heavy cannabis use on life trajectories are well established. Early use is associated with more heavy use and greater onset of cannabis and alcohol use disorders. Early use is related to many adverse cognitive, social, educational and health outcomes. Although cannabis is in the limelight today, it’s not new to teens and teen alcohol use remains a serious problem.


Policy should be aimed at delaying reducing and preventing youth use, promote protective and reduce risk, promote healthy learning.


Unprecedented growth of nicotine use in youth. Vaping is an inhalation drug delivery system. Heated vapours are used instead of burning. Drug delivery is either free base nicotine or nicotine salts. Methods of vaping include e-cigarettes and JUULS. JUULS are not the most popular and deliver nicotine in larger amounts with less irritation – increased addictive properties.

(JUUL devices heat up a cartridge containing oils to create vapor, which quickly dissolves into the air. The devise is small enough to fit in a closed fist and has a sleek, tech-inspired design that resembles a USB flash drive. A single JUUL cartridge is roughly equal to a pack of cigarettes, or 200 cigarette puffs)

Teen vaping is surging trends in use of cigarettes and vape devices. Vaping is less harmful than traditional smoking but vaping is still bad for your physical and mental health. E-cigarettes and JUULs are just as addictive as traditional smoking. E cigarettes won’t help you quit smoking. In fact, a new generation is getting hooked on nicotine.

No long term studies have been done but we know nicotine is as addictive as cocaine and heroin and has significant side effects. Some of the chemicals are harmful. A 2015 study of flavored e-cigarettes by Harvard found that 39 out of 51 tested brands contained diacetyl, acetoin and 2,3 pentanedoine. Each is toxic, but diacetyl causes popcorn lung. (Popcorn lung is a condition in which your lungs’ small airways are damaged, making you cough and feel short of breath.)

Parent Suggestions

Seven simple rules:

  1. Model low risk use.
  2. Set clear no substance use expectations.
  3. Monitor: ask about where they are going, who they are going with and what they are going to do. 
  4. Be supportive; listen and empathize.
  5. Ask questions about the risks.
  6. Encourage healthy alternatives.
  7. Accept mistakes as learning experiences.

We don’t want to prevent youth from taking the journey but we do want them prepared for challenges along the way.

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