More potent cannabis combined with a “new method of administration” is presented to children online.
Researchers warn that YouTube videos depicting a particular type of cannabis use sell the potentially dangerous idea to young viewers who think it’s cool and trendy.
“Unlimited access to the large volume of YouTube videos describing cannabis vaping as fun and joyful could increase teen adoption,” warns Carmen Lim, PhD candidate at the University of Queensland and lead author of a recently published study of the National Center for Research on Substance Use in Young People (NCYSUR) at UQ.
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Researchers watched 200 YouTube videos on the topic of vaping cannabis and found that more than half of them had no age limits to prevent young viewers from watching them.
Additionally, the videos tend to celebrate consumption rather than being strictly informative or warning about dangers.
The most popular video was a party with more than four million views, while no video warning of potential dangers exceeded one million.
“Only about 25% of videos related to vaping cannabis communicate the potential harms of vaping cannabis,” said Dr. Gary Chan, emerging leadership member of NCYSUR and co-lead author.
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Videos from 2016 to 2020 were categorized according to whether they were an advertisement, product review, celebration, reflection, user guide, or a warning.
Instructional videos have been viewed over five million times in total, while those celebrating vaping cannabis have had over seven million.
Researchers said cannabis has become more potent over the past 20 years, and vaping has recently become a “new method of administration.”
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The researchers said their study is the first of its kind since parts of the United States began legislating recreational marijuana, and noted recent studies abroad that found that 10% of students high school students had vaped cannabis.
Cannabis is typically vaped using cartridges containing THC oil, although some more expensive devices are able to vaporize cannabis leaves without turning it into oil first.
In Australia, cannabis is not legal, which makes it more difficult but not impossible to obtain.
Vaporable THC cartridges can be found in dispensaries in the United States but in Australia they require additional work.
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While sometimes available on the black market, there are also websites selling kits that they believe can “turn your favorite legal wax into e-liquid.”
CBD oil, a derivative of the same plant that cannabis comes from, but without the tetrahydrocannabinol that gets you “high”, is legal in certain circumstances.
In December, the Therapeutic Goods Administration made its final decision to make certain low-dose CBD products (up to 150 mg / day) a Schedule 3 drug (drug for pharmacists only) rather than a LDC drug. Annex 4 (prescription drug).
That means you could buy over-the-counter CBD oil at your drugstore if it was TGA approved, but as of December, no product met the criteria.