FORT MYERS, Fla. - You'd probably notice if your child was smoking marijuana whether by sight or smell. There's now a way teens are getting high, leaving behind little evidence, other than the drug's effects.
You've probably seen people using these e-cigarettes or vaporizers. Marketed as an alternative to cigarettes, they release vapor instead of smoke. With a little manipulation, people have found ways to smoke marijuana with these devices, practically undetected.
Vapin on Hendry Street in Fort Myers opened with good intentions: to help people kick the habit. "Ninety-eight percent of the people who come in here are looking to quit smoking or they do it as a hobby," employee Amanda Liguori said.
They only sell nicotene-related products, and only to customers over 18. But, they know that people have found "other" uses. Go on YouTube and you'll see video after video on how to transform a vaporizer into a drug-smoking device, sometimes referred to as an "e-joint."
"It makes me upset a little bit because I feel like that's going to gradually affect our business," Liguori said.
Steven Hill is the Director of the Vince Smith Center a residential substance abuse treatment program for teens. "For the kids I'm working with, a lot of them have done it," Hill said. "You don't have to smoke and you don't have the smell which, a lot of times are some of the telltale signs of marijuana use. It can literally be done right under your nose and you don't know what's going on right under your nose."
Hill said kids are also usingt he device with synthetics like K2 and Spice. While the smell might be absent, the physical effects are the same. "There are long-term physical effects from marijuana especially at a young age, that some of the brain doesn't heal completely," Hill said.
"You don't have to have the rolling papers and the bag of marijuana. It's different," Psychiatrist Omar Rieche said. "I've seen parents very alarmed and shocked that they missed it."
Health professionals are stressing to parents to learn about drug trends and keep asking questions. "If you see any little gadgets or devices in your kid's bedroom that don't look quite right, find out what those things are," Hill said.
For now, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate e-cigarettes. The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association is pushing for regulation that would include a ban on vaporizers sold to smoke marijuana and other drugs.