How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

Worldwide, cannabis–also known as weed and marijuana–throws an enormous net that traps more than a hundred million people every year. In the US, it’s about 4.5 million people, and more than 860,000 of these Americans are students in middle school or high school. It is essential to be able to tell when you might lose a family member to addiction to weed.

Weed either can be a long-term habit, or it can lead to the abuse of stronger drugs, depending on the societal pattern in the location it’s being abused. One thing is certain: Despite all the media and articles and proponents for legalization, weed is addictive and creates an impaired condition that can be dangerous. Since weed is abused by so many young people, millions of parents struggle to clearly identify drug problems or addiction in their children. It’s important to be able to detect signs of weed use when they are present.

Marijuana Health Risks:

  • Is Marijuana Addictive?
  • Your Kids and Weed
  • Increased Potency
  • Effects on the Brain

Identifying Marijuana or Weed Consumption

Marijuana or weed can be consumed as a shredded, dry leafy product or as marijuana oil and resin. These last two are sold under the names “hash” or “hashish.” Hash may be found in flat cakes. Hash oil will be amber or brown and may be sold in small glass bottles. When you’re looking for signs of weed use, you would be looking for small bags of brownish-green leaves that look like herbs, small chunks of a powdery brown substance or very small bottles of brown liquid.

Signs of Marijuana Use

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Fast heart rate
  • Sleepy, lethargic
  • Lack of coordination
  • Increase cravings for snacks

Change in Actions:

  • Confusion and lack of focus
  • Unusually talkative
  • Dropping studies or usual activities
  • Misjudging time
  • Secretiveness
  • Pipes
  • Shredded leafy debris
  • Cigarette rolling papers
  • Very small bottles of oil
  • Small metal clips
  • Eyedroppers

Other signs of weed use are paraphernalia left in a person’s room or vehicle. Small pipes, larger complicated water pipes referred to as “bongs,” and cigarette rolling papers or small ends of smoked hand-rolled cigarettes constitute signs of weed use. In states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana use (or nearby states), there may be “edibles” in the form of:

  • Cookies,
  • Brownies,
  • Drinks,
  • Candy bars,
  • Hard candies

If the item is still in the original packaging, it must identify the dosage of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary intoxicating ingredient) expected to exist in that edible item.

Immediate Signs of Weed Use

The most immediate signs of smoking weed are dilation of the blood vessels in the eyes (making them bloodshot), increased heart rate, increased appetite and memory impairment, along with difficulty paying attention or solving problems. But the real reason people abuse the drug is for the euphoria that may last three to six hours.

When monitoring for symptoms of weed use, there may be reactions of anxiety, fear or panic, especially if they are new to the drug or taking it in an unsettling location. Hallucinations, paranoia and delusional behavior can be symptoms of weed use that is very potent, or consumption of a large amount.

More Risks & Effects of Cannabis Abuse

  • Specific Signs
  • Effects of Weed
  • Effects on the Mind
  • Ability to Drive When Abusing

Helping Someone Overcome Addiction to Weed

Feeling that one’s life is just passing one by is a typical symptom of weed use. One person who spent a decade smoking dope said that it was like ten years of his life was just missing. At Narconon recovery centers, the brightness and joy of really living can be recovered after symptoms of weed use have demonstrated abuse or addiction to the drug.

For students in particular, being addicted to weed can be destructive. Weed impairs one’s ability to think, learn and solve problems. To accomplish a good education, one must be bright and perceptive. With a thorough sauna-based detoxification action that restores the brightness and quickness of thinking, plus boosted communication skills and life skills, a person can again create a productive, enjoyable life.

Find out how the holistic, alternative Narconon drug recovery program can help someone you care about who is addicted to weed or any other drug. Call

John C. Umhau, MD, MPH, CPE is board-certified in addiction medicine and preventative medicine. He is the medical director at Alcohol Recovery Medicine. For over 20 years Dr. Umhau was a senior clinical investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

Naturally, most parents would prefer not to find out that their children are smoking marijuana while they are young. Even if you have a tolerant attitude toward marijuana or perhaps smoke it—or used to smoke it—yourself, you probably would not want your young children to use it due to the damage it can do to their young, developing brains.

Or, you may be like many parents and think that your child will not get involved with drugs or alcohol, because you have discussed the dangers with them, and besides, smoking weed is something that older children do, not your child.

Earlier Marijuana Use

One problem is children today are beginning to smoke marijuana very early in life. National surveys may indicate that the average age that children first smoke weed is 16, but that means many of them started much earlier for the average to be age 16.  

In fact, one survey of children in treatment for substance abuse found that 14% of them first smoked marijuana before age 13.

Increased Marijuana Availability

Another problem is availability. Research has found that availability plays a large role in youngsters becoming involved with substance abuse whether it is alcohol, inhalants, prescription drugs, or marijuana.  

Make no mistake about it, marijuana is becoming more and more available to young children, even in elementary and middle school. In response to surveys, a growing percentage of teens report that they know someone who sells drugs or know where they can buy drugs.   In fact, some teens report they can get marijuana easier than they can alcohol.

Legalization Has Changed Attitudes

The growth of the marijuana legalization movement in the United States—for both medical and recreational use—has had an effect on how children perceive the use of marijuana. Fewer teens report seeing it as harmful or dangerous.

And finally, if you are a parent who does smoke marijuana, or even if you merely express approval of the use of weed around your children, they are much more likely to smoke it themselves compared with children whose parents disapprove of the drug.  

Given all of these factors, you might want to rethink whether or not your child might be involved in marijuana use, especially if they have shown any of the signs outlined below.

Risks Associated With Early Marijuana Use

It is also important to be aware of the potential long-term damage that marijuana use can cause in young people. Research suggests that marijuana use can harm developing brains and lead to problems with thinking, problem-solving, attention, and coordination. Marijuana use is also linked to an increased risk for mental illness. Evidence also suggests that while the brain experiences recovery once marijuana use stops, the damage is lasting.  

How to Spot Marijuana Use

If someone is actually high on marijuana, there may be some visible signs that they are under the influence:

  • They may seem unsteady on their feet or appear dizzy.
  • They could have bloodshot eyes.
  • They might laugh inappropriately or seem silly for no reason.
  • They may have difficulty remembering something that just happened.
  • As the effects wear off, they may become sleepy.

Evidence of Smoking Behavior

Even if they are not visibly high, there are some signs you can look for that linger after they have been smoking:

  • The odor will linger and cling to their clothes
  • Drug paraphernalia such as rolling papers or pipes
  • Sudden uncharacteristic use of eye drops
  • The use of incense or room deodorizers
  • Pro-drug slogans on t-shirts or posters
  • Evidence of smoking, such as lighters, ashes

Sudden Behavioral Changes

Although these behavioral changes could be related to other typical teenage issues, they also could indicate marijuana use:

  • Tiredness
  • Hostility or mood swings
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Declining attention to hygiene, grooming
  • Deteriorating relationships

Changes in Interests

These signs could also indicate other teenage-related problems, they also could be prompted by the use of marijuana:

  • A change in friends or peer group
  • Declining grades in school
  • Increased absenteeism or truancy
  • Changes in eating habits
  • A change in sleep patterns
  • Loss of interest in sports or other activities
  • Behavioral problems at school
  • Brushes with the law

What to Do If You Suspect Marijuana Use

If you suspect that your child has been using marijuana, you may want to just sit down and talk to them about it. If your child is using marijuana, chances are he or she will deny it and blame any evidence you found on someone else.

But, carefully watch their reaction to your conversation with them. If they over-react, that too could be an indication of their involvement with marijuana or other drugs.

How about drug testing your child? There are home drug tests available that parents can use to test their children, but be aware that there are some drawbacks when parents decide to test their kids.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

More Articles

  1. Signs of Smoking Heroin
  2. How to Tell If a Person Is Using Cocaine
  3. The Long Term and Short Term Effects of Marijuana Use
  4. How to Interpret the House-Tree-Person Test
  5. Signs of Smoking Cigarettes

If you suspect that someone you know is smoking marijuana, there are a few telltale signs you can look for. While the presence of one or more of these indicators is not necessarily proof that the individual is using marijuana, it can provide a strong suspicion that the individual is under the influence.

Paraphernalia

The clearest indicator that an individual is using marijuana is the presence of marijuana paraphernalia in his possession or home. This is the easiest method of detection for parents, as they will have access to a child’s living space. Small glass pipes, glass bongs, cigarette rolling papers or other homemade smoking devices all indicate a marijuana smoker. Look for a sticky residue on smoking devices, as this indicates the presence of burned marijuana.

  • The clearest indicator that an individual is using marijuana is the presence of marijuana paraphernalia in his possession or home.

Increased Appetite

Signs of Smoking Heroin

While under the effects of marijuana, individuals generally have an increased appetite, especially for sweets or snacks. An individual who is generally a picky eater will become more open to different types of food, and will also eat larger quantities of food while under the influence of marijuana. An increased appetite may also indicate a variety of other physical states, so this feature alone is generally not a sign of marijuana use. However, you will typically see a larger appetite along with other signs.

  • While under the effects of marijuana, individuals generally have an increased appetite, especially for sweets or snacks.
  • An individual who is generally a picky eater will become more open to different types of food, and will also eat larger quantities of food while under the influence of marijuana.

Red Eyes

Red or sleepy-looking eyes are also an indicator of marijuana use. Red eyes are caused either by irritation from the marijuana smoke, or by the effects of blood vessels in the eyes relaxing—called vasodilation—which makes the blood vessels in the eye fill with blood. The pupils also tend to relax and dilate while the individual is under the effects of marijuana. While smokers may use eye drops to lessen the effects of red eyes, droopy eyelids and dilated pupils will remain. Additionally, excessive use of eye drops may be a sign of marijuana use if the individual does not normally suffer from dry eyes.

Do you have a friend or family member who is continuously smoking weed? Are you the parent of someone who seems to rely on weed to get himself (or herself) through the day? It is possible to help a person stop smoking weed.

Like with any drug, the effects of the drug themselves make it very hard for a person to stop once he has developed a dependence on the drug. It can seem very true to the drug-user that he needs the drug every day just to cope with life, just to feel what he considers “normal.” Despite these fixed ways of thinking, on the Narconon program, marijuana addicts have recovered the ability to think clearly, enjoy life and achieve goals again.

Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana use creates euphoria, sedation, lethargy and a feeling of empathy that is not based on real emotions. With high doses or chronic use, a person can suffer memory loss, difficulty paying attention, even panic attacks and hallucinations. He may feel like his senses are sharper but he will lose an accurate sense of speed or distance which can make him a dangerous driver. The loss of inhibitions combined with poor judgment that commonly occurs when stoned may mean that decisions with dangerous consequences may be made, such as the decision to take on a physical challenge that cannot be safely met, or the decision to have unprotected sex.

How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

Of course, many people know that weed use results in loss of coordination that can seem funny at the time. Marijuana is well known for causing the “munchies”—increased appetite for snack foods, especially sweets. The eyes of a marijuana smoker are normally red after he smokes the drug.

What many people do not know is that heavy weed use is increasingly resulting in what has been termed “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome” which simply means that use of high potency weed can cause people severe, excruciating abdominal pain and violent vomiting that continues for a long period of time. In fact, the only temporary relief seems to come from staying in a hot shower or bath for hours. If a person does not know that the cause of this problem is cannabis or weed, he can continue to cause the problem by smoking more weed. Medical treatment or drugs do not ease the pain or vomiting. The solution is to stop using weed. Doctors are slowly becoming aware of the cause of this problem and are more likely to ask if the person suffering this type of condition is using cannabis.

Problems for Students in Particular

Marijuana abuse is especially popular among young people. Right at the time in their lives when they should be learning and planning careers, marijuana may be sapping their ability to focus, learn, think logically and retain what they have learned. In addition, a person who chronically abuses this drug very often suffers a loss of motivation. Educational goals may become uninteresting and the lethargy and lack of focus resulting from marijuana abuse make it hard to follow through on assignments anyway. Statistically, more young people receive lower grades when they habitually smoked weed. One study showed that of those who had been heavy users completed college less often and had lower incomes after leaving college.

So these points cover how to tell if a person you care about is using weed and what the negative effects of this drug can be. You may already have been aware of some of these problems but didn’t know how to help.

Offering Help

If a person feels that using marijuana is making his life better, you will have a hard time convincing him (or her) to stop smoking the drug. You may have to work with your friend or family member to remind him of the way things were before he began to rely on marijuana to detach him from problems and emotions. Help him compare the way things are now with earlier times when he might have talked about his plans and future with enthusiasm.

You may have to convince him that the dreams he gave up on can still be attained if he quits cannabis use with your help. These earlier dreams and enthusiasms are the key to helping many people envision a new life without drugs, but that new desire may be fleeting. If you get his interest again, you must move quickly to the creation of a new sobriety so these dreams can be renewed.

You will have to work with this person to get him to stop using the drug. He will have to stay away from drug-using and drug-selling friends because most people easily fall back into drug abuse when hanging out with the people still involved in the drug habit.

How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

The withdrawal symptoms he may encounter include:

  • Anger, tension, irritability, restlessness, depression
  • Chills, stomach pains, shaking, sweating
  • Decreased appetite, sleep difficulties, bad dreams, nausea

These symptoms are not normally severe but he may need help resisting the cravings that probably will last for weeks or months. Clearly set goals and the support of sober family and friends can help him stay on a new, creative path toward goals of his own choosing. Nutritional supplementation can help him recover energy and interest in life and help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal.

What if He Can’t Seem to Quit?

Each year, more than 400,000 people enter rehabs to get help for addiction to marijuana. And these are only the ones entering publicly funded facilities, which means the real total would be higher. Since only about one in ten people who need help for addiction get it, it would be easy to estimate that more than four million people are addicted to this drug. A heavy user may be so drowned in the fog of drug abuse that he can’t quit using the drug when he wants to. In this case, a long-term rehabilitation program that helps a person build a new sober life and the skills to maintain it over the long haul is the answer. This is the service provided by Narconon drug rehabilitation centers around the world.

In many rehabs, prescription drugs make up part of the treatment program. Not at a Narconon center. The entire program is drug-free. Nutritional supplements aid a person in regaining energy and bright viewpoint. A sauna-based detoxification step flushes out the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating ingredient in weed), helping a person regain the clear thinking they may have left far behind. The life skills segment of the Narconon program walks a person through the learning of the real-life abilities needed to stay sober and achieve goals.

If you are trying to help a person stop smoking weed, you should find out about the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation today. If he can’t stop using the drug on his own, he needs the help of an effective rehab program before any more of his life or talents are wasted, and definitely before he can progress on to use a more heavily addictive drug.

Laced weed refers to marijuana that’s secretly mixed or contaminated with another substance. Some dealers intentionally lace weed to rip off customers. Others contaminate marijuana in attempts to make it seem more potent.

Weed can be laced with several substances, including:

  • Embalming fluid
  • Glass
  • Laundry detergent
  • Methamphetamine
  • Heroin
  • PCP
  • Fentanyl
  • LSD
  • Ketamine

The effects of laced weed vary depending on what the drug is mixed with, how the drug is consumed and several personal factors. Few people know what’s in marijuana bought on the street. Many dealers don’t know exactly what they’re selling.

Signs of Laced Weed

It can be nearly impossible to determine if marijuana is laced with another drug or substance. Different strains of marijuana have different colors. They also have different smells and tastes.

An obviously suspicious color or pungent smell may be a warning sign for laced weed. Other simple tests may reveal impurities. People who use recreational marijuana claim that rubbing marijuana against a CD shouldn’t cause scratches. If the weed scratches the CD, it may contain glass.

But many impurities are undetectable by do-it-yourself tests.

Chemical testing labs in Colorado have reported contaminants in legal marijuana that weren’t obvious to the naked eye, according to a 2015 press release from the American Chemical Society. The tests revealed fungi, butane and other contaminants in marijuana that appeared normal.

Why Weed Is Mixed with Other Substances

Most dealers don’t lace marijuana with hard drugs, such as meth or heroin, and sell it to unsuspecting buyers. They’d be losing money by selling extra drugs for less cost.

Some people worry that dealers will lace marijuana with an addictive drug, such as cocaine, to get a person hooked on a more expensive drug. That’s possible but uncommon.

Dealers are more likely to lace weed with cheap substances to rip off customers. They may mix it with laundry detergent, perfumes or tiny shards of glass to enhance the smell, increase the weight or make the drug seem more potent.

Rare cases of dealers selling marijuana laced with hard drugs have been reported. However, reports of marijuana laced with the deadly opioid fentanyl in 2017 were not credible, according to the fact-checking agency Snopes.

Most of the time, people using marijuana are more likely than dealers to lace it, according to the Center for Substance Abuse Research. They may mix it with PCP or LSD to enhance the drug’s hallucinatory effects. Marijuana cigarettes have also been soaked in embalming fluid for the same purpose.

How to Tell if You Smoked Laced Weed

Different forms of marijuana have different appearances, tastes and smells. They also cause different effects. Normal symptoms of marijuana use include happiness, relaxation and forgetfulness.

Different strains may cause more relaxation and less euphoria. Or a strain may make someone feel more foggy or clumsy than others do.

Laced weed can cause a variety of side effects that are different from what a person normally feels. Stimulants, such as meth or cocaine, can make you feel energetic, intensely focused and incredibly happy. Downers, such as heroin, may make you feel lethargic, nauseous or too relaxed. PCP or LSD may make you hallucinate.

Other contaminants, such as glass, laundry detergent or fungi, may cause uncontrollable coughing, vomiting or pain. Most people who smoke weed know how marijuana affects the lungs. Sharp pain in the lungs may mean the marijuana is laced with another drug.

What to Do if You Smoke Laced Weed

In general, if you feel symptoms that make you worried or uncomfortable, you should seek medical help. You can’t die from a marijuana overdose, but you can overdose on other drugs commonly mixed with marijuana.

If you’re with someone sober, ask the person to take you to the hospital. If you don’t have a safe ride, call a marijuana hotline or a poison help line for assistance. These services provide help for people experiencing unpleasant side effects or marijuana addiction.

Call 911 if you feel symptoms of a drug overdose, such as rapid heartrate, slowed breathing, extreme confusion, paranoia, slurred speech or drastic changes to body temperature.

It’s impossible for most people to determine what’s in the drugs that they buy on the street. Even legal marijuana can contain unsafe contaminants. Laced weed isn’t common, but it does exist. Anyone who buys weed on the street is at risk for getting a bad batch.

Do you have a friend or family member who is continuously smoking weed? Are you the parent of someone who seems to rely on weed to get himself (or herself) through the day? It is possible to help a person stop smoking weed.

Like with any drug, the effects of the drug themselves make it very hard for a person to stop once he has developed a dependence on the drug. It can seem very true to the drug-user that he needs the drug every day just to cope with life, just to feel what he considers “normal.” Despite these fixed ways of thinking, on the Narconon program, marijuana addicts have recovered the ability to think clearly, enjoy life and achieve goals again.

Symptoms of Marijuana Abuse

Marijuana use creates euphoria, sedation, lethargy and a feeling of empathy that is not based on real emotions. With high doses or chronic use, a person can suffer memory loss, difficulty paying attention, even panic attacks and hallucinations. He may feel like his senses are sharper but he will lose an accurate sense of speed or distance which can make him a dangerous driver. The loss of inhibitions combined with poor judgment that commonly occurs when stoned may mean that decisions with dangerous consequences may be made, such as the decision to take on a physical challenge that cannot be safely met, or the decision to have unprotected sex.

How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

Of course, many people know that weed use results in loss of coordination that can seem funny at the time. Marijuana is well known for causing the “munchies”—increased appetite for snack foods, especially sweets. The eyes of a marijuana smoker are normally red after he smokes the drug.

What many people do not know is that heavy weed use is increasingly resulting in what has been termed “cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome” which simply means that use of high potency weed can cause people severe, excruciating abdominal pain and violent vomiting that continues for a long period of time. In fact, the only temporary relief seems to come from staying in a hot shower or bath for hours. If a person does not know that the cause of this problem is cannabis or weed, he can continue to cause the problem by smoking more weed. Medical treatment or drugs do not ease the pain or vomiting. The solution is to stop using weed. Doctors are slowly becoming aware of the cause of this problem and are more likely to ask if the person suffering this type of condition is using cannabis.

Problems for Students in Particular

Marijuana abuse is especially popular among young people. Right at the time in their lives when they should be learning and planning careers, marijuana may be sapping their ability to focus, learn, think logically and retain what they have learned. In addition, a person who chronically abuses this drug very often suffers a loss of motivation. Educational goals may become uninteresting and the lethargy and lack of focus resulting from marijuana abuse make it hard to follow through on assignments anyway. Statistically, more young people receive lower grades when they habitually smoked weed. One study showed that of those who had been heavy users completed college less often and had lower incomes after leaving college.

So these points cover how to tell if a person you care about is using weed and what the negative effects of this drug can be. You may already have been aware of some of these problems but didn’t know how to help.

Offering Help

If a person feels that using marijuana is making his life better, you will have a hard time convincing him (or her) to stop smoking the drug. You may have to work with your friend or family member to remind him of the way things were before he began to rely on marijuana to detach him from problems and emotions. Help him compare the way things are now with earlier times when he might have talked about his plans and future with enthusiasm.

You may have to convince him that the dreams he gave up on can still be attained if he quits cannabis use with your help. These earlier dreams and enthusiasms are the key to helping many people envision a new life without drugs, but that new desire may be fleeting. If you get his interest again, you must move quickly to the creation of a new sobriety so these dreams can be renewed.

You will have to work with this person to get him to stop using the drug. He will have to stay away from drug-using and drug-selling friends because most people easily fall back into drug abuse when hanging out with the people still involved in the drug habit.

How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

The withdrawal symptoms he may encounter include:

  • Anger, tension, irritability, restlessness, depression
  • Chills, stomach pains, shaking, sweating
  • Decreased appetite, sleep difficulties, bad dreams, nausea

These symptoms are not normally severe but he may need help resisting the cravings that probably will last for weeks or months. Clearly set goals and the support of sober family and friends can help him stay on a new, creative path toward goals of his own choosing. Nutritional supplementation can help him recover energy and interest in life and help alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal.

What if He Can’t Seem to Quit?

Each year, more than 400,000 people enter rehabs to get help for addiction to marijuana. And these are only the ones entering publicly funded facilities, which means the real total would be higher. Since only about one in ten people who need help for addiction get it, it would be easy to estimate that more than four million people are addicted to this drug. A heavy user may be so drowned in the fog of drug abuse that he can’t quit using the drug when he wants to. In this case, a long-term rehabilitation program that helps a person build a new sober life and the skills to maintain it over the long haul is the answer. This is the service provided by Narconon drug rehabilitation centers around the world.

In many rehabs, prescription drugs make up part of the treatment program. Not at a Narconon center. The entire program is drug-free. Nutritional supplements aid a person in regaining energy and bright viewpoint. A sauna-based detoxification step flushes out the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating ingredient in weed), helping a person regain the clear thinking they may have left far behind. The life skills segment of the Narconon program walks a person through the learning of the real-life abilities needed to stay sober and achieve goals.

If you are trying to help a person stop smoking weed, you should find out about the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation today. If he can’t stop using the drug on his own, he needs the help of an effective rehab program before any more of his life or talents are wasted, and definitely before he can progress on to use a more heavily addictive drug.

The practice of using vaping devices to consume marijuana or cannabis products is becoming increasingly widespread. Recent data shows that more than one-fifth of high school seniors have reported vaping marijuana in the past year. [1] At the same time, one of the ingredients present in many marijuana vapes has been linked to a wave of illnesses and deaths impacting people of all ages across the U.S.

Unfortunately, these vaping-related injuries and mortalities are not the only reason parents and caregivers should be concerned about the risks teenagers and young adults face when they vape marijuana.

How it works

Just like nicotine vaping devices, marijuana vapes work by heating a liquid or oil that becomes a vapor the user inhales. Marijuana vaping devices often resemble vaping devices used for nicotine or other e-liquids. For example, PAX is a brand of marijuana vaporizers that closely resemble the popular JUUL devices. Those seeking to vape marijuana can also learn how to “hack” nicotine vapes to work with marijuana from countless YouTube videos and other online resources.

The risks

When teens vape marijuana they’re putting two vital organs at risk: their brains and their lungs. The brain of an adolescent or young adult continues to grow and develop well into early adulthood, and is busy developing critical skills related to problem-solving, impulse control, anticipating consequences and more. Marijuana can get in the way of this crucial development.

It’s important for parents and caregivers to note that marijuana may impact the brains of young people differently than it impacts the brains of fully mature adults. Long-lasting or permanent effects on the developing adolescent brain due to marijuana use may include:

  • Difficulty with critical thinking skills like attention, problem solving and memory
  • Impaired reaction time and coordination, especially as it relates to driving
  • Decline in school performance
  • Increased risk of mental health issues including depression or anxiety and, in some cases, psychosis where there is a family history of it

Research also shows that teens who use marijuana are twice as likely as adults to become addicted to it.

Several thousand lung injuries and deaths have also been associated with an illness linked to vaping devices containing THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and Vitamin E Acetate, a thickening agent sometimes added to the e-liquid. [2] Although the majority of marijuana vaping devices containing Vitamin E Acetate were bought through illegal channels, there have been several cases where the additive was identified in vaping products purchased from regulated marijuana dispensaries.

Symptoms of this vaping-related lung illness, also known as EVALI ( E -cigarette, or V aping, product use A ssociated L ung I njury), include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Low oxygen levels
  • Lung failure and death (in severe cases)

How to tell if someone has been using marijuana

Saturday

With $20M in private equity backing, a device that can tell the difference between residual THC in the bloodstream and consumption in the last three hours could be headed for market next year.

PHILADELPHIA — When New Jersey lawmakers debated earlier this year whether to legalize recreational use of marijuana, the Garden State’s police organizations were adamantly against it.

The cops said legal weed might lead to an explosion in the numbers of impaired drivers operating under the influence. And the police would be caught flatfooted trying to tell whether drivers they pulled over were high.

“With alcohol, if you have over 0.08% in your blood, there’s the presumption that you’re intoxicated,” said Christopher Leusner, head of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.

But because marijuana stays in the bloodstream for weeks after impairment, “there hasn’t been a blood test or a breath test that can determine if you’re impaired by marijuana.”

It’s a breathalyzer device developed by Hound Labs in Northern California. It’s portable and can run tests for both alcohol and marijuana. It just may change the minds of many of those reluctant police officers, including in Pennsylvania as lawmakers consider several proposals to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Intrinsic Capital Partners, a Philadelphia growth equity fund, is so convinced of a “potential massive market” for the device that it led a $30-million Series D financing round to bring it to market in 2020.

Mike Lynn, a veteran emergency-department physician from Oakland, California, developed the Hound breathalyzer in collaboration with researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco.

Lynn also happens to be a reserve deputy sheriff.

“It’s about creating a balance of public safety and fairness,” Lynn said. “I’ve seen the tragedies resulting from impaired driving up close. And I have a good idea how challenging it is at the roadside to know whether someone smoked pot recently. But I believe if someone is not stoned, they shouldn’t be arrested.”

Lynn claims his device can detect whether someone has smoked pot or ingested a marijuana edible in the last three hours.

A Canadian start-up called SannTek has a device in development with similar capabilities.

The Hound breathalyzer is a base station and a hand-held device that together will retail for about $5,000. The entire machine will be manufactured in the United States, Lynn said. Each test also will require a $20 single-use cartridge.

“We have spoken with law-enforcement agencies and large employers, and from our perspective, there’s a huge untapped market and unmet needs for something like this,” said Howard Goodwin, principal at Intrinsic Capital Partners.

Dick Wolf, the creator of TV’s “Law & Order,” is also an enthusiastic Hound backer. So is Benchmark, the Silicon Valley venture capital powerhouse that put up seed funding forDropbox, Snap, Uber and WeWork.

“It’s a game changer,” said John Hudak, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has written extensively on marijuana legalization.

“I’ve been saying for years it’s only a matter of time before someone developed the technology and got the science right,” Hudak said. “That time apparently is now. And they’re going to make a hell of a lot of money selling it to law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. and Canada.”

Lynn said about 50 million drug tests are conducted each year. He believes the market for a THC breathalyzer may be worth well above $10 billion annually.

About 30 states have legalized cannabis medically or recreationally, with Massachusetts in the latter group. Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Rhode Island are among the dozens with medical marijuana programs.

Traditionally, law-enforcement agencies have been resistant to legalization.

Leusner, the head of the New Jersey police chiefs group, said prosecuting marijuana DUIs is costly and time-consuming.

Marijuana DUI cases hinge on blood test results. Traces of THC metabolites, the drug’s byproducts, can remain in the body for up to a month. Proving impairment is notoriously difficult. There is no legal threshold of what constitutes intoxication. Often, cases get thrown out of court.

Officers who are qualified drug-recognition experts and trained to spot stoned drivers can spend up to two days in court in a single case. “That’s expensive,” Leusner said.

John Adams, Berks County’s district attorney, serves on Pennsylvania’s statewide medical marijuana advisory board.

“DUI under marijuana is a huge, huge problem. It’s one of the reasons we’ve been against legalization,” Adams said. “I’ve heard about the breathalyzers. If the technology is out there, it would be a great tool. It would alleviate some of our fears.”

Police have depended on the skunky stench of marijuana to provide probable cause to search a car or conduct a field sobriety test on a driver. But a recent court ruling in Pennsylvania maintained that the smell alone isn’t sufficient reason to initiate an arrest.

And then there’s this: cannabis consumers in many states are slowly moving toward edibles — from pot brownies to infused beverages and lozenges — and at least until the recent scare, vaping.

So both the Hound breathalyzer and the SannTek appear to be arriving at the perfect moment.

The Hound breathalyzer, which is about a billion times more sensitive than a standard alcohol breath test, can detect the incredibly low concentrations of THC that are transported through the bloodstream and subsequently exhaled.

“We wanted to be able to detect THC in people who have recently used it — either eaten the stuff or smoked a joint,” said Lynn. “Those are the people we want to discourage before they go to the workplace or get behind the wheel.”

Lynn said he envisioned the device nearly eight years ago when a car drove past him trailing a cloud of weed smoke. But the technology did not exist to create an affordable device.

“I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be.”

In eight months, Lynn’s team was able to detect THC in the breath of smokers. It took five more years to consistently and accurately measure levels with a machine at a cost in reach of most police departments and employers.

“We could measure small amounts quickly, but it took considerably longer to do the science and complete the clinical studies,” Lynn said.

Lynn sees the nation’s police departments as his first customers, but he believes businesses will adopt the Hound breathalyzer.

“Employers have the same fundamental problems as law-enforcement agencies,” Lynn said. “They need to maintain a safe workplace, but not have to worry about what their employees do in their free time. Someone can go home, smoke pot just like I’d enjoy a glass of wine, and not test positive” the next day.

“Employers are facing a workforce now that has close to full employment,” Lynn said. “They don’t want to be firing valuable workers, especially for something that’s legal in most states.”