The commission studying marijuana legalization in New Hampshire got a crash course Monday in "Juuling"—the e-cigarette vaping that's become a craze among high school students.
Jill Burke, interim prevention administrator for the New Hampshire Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Services, says some young people are using various vaping devices with oils derived from cannabis.
“It is the size of a USB stick and they’re using these products in schools and colleges, and they’re using these products with THC oils and derivatives,” she said.
“We started recognizing it as an issue in the summer of last year and then as the school year progressed and more and more students learned about it and its effects, and how you could get away with using it in school, then of course it took off with some great fire at that point in time.”
Burke told the commission to pay extra attention to high-risk populations, such as young people, in considering any marijuana policy.
Vaping has become one of the biggest reasons for disciplinary action in schools statewide, says Tricia Tilley, deputy director of the New Hampshire Division of Public Health Services.
Citing the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Tilley says up to 50 percent of high school seniors have indicated they have used e-cigarettes or “Juuls.”
“That is so much higher than we see in alcohol use or combustible tobacco use,” she says.
The "Juul" vaporizer is designed for adult smokers looking for a nicotine-based alternative to smoking traditional cigarettes, according to the manufacturer. Its online portal restricts purchases to 21 and older. In-store, retail sales are 18, which is the age restriction for tobacco products under New Hampshire state law.
A spokesperson from Juul noted that the company has goals and initiatives to reduce minors who use tobacco products, including vapor products, with the efforts including steps to ensure minors do not buy its products online, work to engage school districts with educational programs, and deploying a secret shopper program to monitor age verification of retailers.
"JUUL Labs' mission," a statement reads, "is to eliminate cigarette smoking by offering existing adult smokers a true alternative to cigarettes. JUUL is not intended for anyone else. We strongly condemn the use of our product by minors, and it is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors. No minor should be in possession of a JUUL product."
(This post was updated Tuesday with additional information from JUUL Labs.) READ More of NHPR's coverage of marijuana, therapeutic cannabis, and the N.H. legalization study commission.