Concentrated Cannabis Is Potent, Hard To Detect And Popular Among Teens 

By Kelly Burch 08/29/19

According to a new study, 72% percent of teens who had tried marijuana had used the concentrates. 

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teen using concentrated cannabis
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Nearly a quarter of teens report using highly concentrated cannabis products, often vaped in e-cigarettes, which can increase their risk of mental health complications and future drug use. 

According to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, 24% of 8th, 10th and 12th graders surveyed had tried a marijuana concentrate. One-third of the youth surveyed had tried marijuana, the study found. Seventy-two percent of teens who had tried marijuana had used the concentrates. 

Health experts say that the findings are concerning because they show that the use of concentrates is prevalent. However, since concentrates are used with e-cigarette devices, or as edibles, they can be hard for parents to detect. This is especially true because they don’t have the same distinct smell as raw cannabis. 

Dr. Abigail Schlesinger is chief of the behavioral science division at the UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. She told NBC News that parents need to be aware of cannabis concentrates, and that they can have long-term effects on teens. 

Parents Get Informed

“Parents need to know about the risks,” Schlesinger said. “This is not your grandparents’ cannabis. It’s more concentrated. And there’s a lot of reason to believe that in the adolescent years, it alters brain development."

She added, “Parents need to be clear that they don’t support cannabis use. Because if we don’t give a clear message, then teens can take it as a tacit statement that it’s OK. That doesn’t mean you say they will be expelled from the family if they try something. But we need to tell them that if they do these things, they may not reach their full potential.”

The study found that teens who used concentrates were more likely to engage in other drug use as they got older. Youth who had used concentrates were more likely to have tried other drugs as well. 

Study author Madeline Meier, who teaches psychology at Arizona State University, said that parents need to be aware of teens using cannabis concentrates. 

“I don’t know that parents know about this stuff,” Meier said. “If I weren’t a marijuana researcher, I don’t know if I saw [a vape with marijuana] that I would know what it was. Parents should educate themselves about what these forms of cannabis look like.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.