Marijuana use and Vaping


Happy Fall everyone!

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), marijuana is the most commonly used psychoactive drug worldwide. This is also the case in the West Potomac Community. While alcohol is still the most commonly abused drug in the WPHS Pyramid, marijuana is the most commonly used psychoactive drug. According to the 2017 Fairfax County Youth Survey data, 24.8 percent of twelfth graders reported using marijuana in the last 30 days, which is nearly 7 percent higher than the Fairfax County average. When you look deeper into the data, there is a large leap in marijuana use from middle school to high school. In 2017, 2.4 percent of 8th graders reported marijuana use in the last 30 days and 11.2 percent of 10th graders reported marijuana use. Parents, it is incredibly important that you have conversations with your child about the dangers of marijuana use and equip them with the knowledge they need to make good decisions.

Recently, there have been numerous news articles about lung illnesses and deaths related to vaping. The current data from the CDC lists 530 cases of lung illness and seven deaths. The CDC is investigating these illnesses but has not released any definitive answers. There is speculation that some of the illnesses are related to vaping THC oil. Vaporizing THC oil and “dabs” has grown in popularity with many believing it is a “safer” way to consume marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), since the 90’s there has been a steep increase in THC levels found in marijuana. THC oil or “dabs” concentrates the THC even further and creates oils with over 50 percent THC concentration and higher! Just to provide perspective, the average concentration of THC in marijuana in the 90’s was 3.7 percent. These high levels of THC are sending students to the Emergency Room with symptoms of Acute Cannabis Intoxication such as tachycardia, high blood pressure, increased respiration, and slurred speech. According to the Nurse Practitioners Journal, patients with a history of regular marijuana use are also being diagnosed with Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). Symptoms of CHS include severe episodes of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and compulsive bathing in hot water to relieve symptoms. The early phase of this syndrome can last months or years with patients feeling nauseated in the morning or having abdominal pain but maintaining normal eating patterns. If your student is struggling with unexplained nausea or abdominal pain, consider talking with them about substance use or having them speak with their doctor about substance use.

If you have any questions or want to refer your student to me do not hesitate to contact me at