Organizations join forces to inform, warn on THC Vaping products

December 16, 2019

The use of THC with vaping products is on the rise among youth and young adults in El Paso, and now two area health agencies are partnering to battle the outbreak.

As part of a unified effort to build community awareness, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation (PdNHF) and El Paso Behavioral Health Consortium partners are working together to develop and disseminate informational resources about the risks related to THC vaping. In 2017, the County of El Paso Juvenile Probation Department reported 16 cases of juveniles between the ages of 10 and 16 caught in possession of THC. That number increased in 2018 to an alarming forty (40) cases.

In addition to the significant health risks associated with THC vaping, persons caught in possession of THC may face felony charges. Consequences associated with possession of THC include fines, probation, and up to ten years of jail time. In some cases, parents can also be charged and punished.

While youth under 17 years of age may not initially face the possibility of incarceration, the repercussions can still create a lasting impact on an adolescent’s health, and future quality of life. “As of December 3, 2019, the Juvenile Probation Department reports a frightening two hundred forty-eight (248) cases for the 2019 calendar year,” said Enrique Mata, senior program office for the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are tracking a nationwide outbreak of “e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury (EVALI)” cases. Most EVALI patients reported using THC-containing products in the three months before symptom onset.

THC, a chemical derived from an oil made from the marijuana (cannabis) plant, can be ingested in the form of oil vapor via vaping devices unlike typical paraphernalia used to smoke marijuana.

The vape devices look similar to pens or USBs while others resemble everyday items such as watches and hooded sweatshirts, making them difficult for parents or authority figures to identify.

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