Are More Teens Vaping Dagga/Weed? Should we be Alarmed?

Teens, vaping and weed. Innocent fun or a dangerous new pastime?

No doubt as a youngster, a few of you may have dabbled with dagga or tried to smoke a bit of weed. No real biggie right? You think that your child may do the same, try it out, get some munchies and probably laugh a bit too hard at SpongeBob on the telly, right?

Are More Teens Vaping Dagga/Weed? Should we be  Alarmed?

Here’s the thing. The weed youngsters are smoking today isn’t necessarily the same strength that it was in the 70’s to 90’s. Probably nowhere near as chilled. The THC levels in weed probably sat at under 10%. (THC is the psychoactive ingredient in weed.) Now, the youth of today are using weed with THC levels that are far greater, sitting at around 90% or more. Concentrated cannabis oil is far more potent, and in turn, has far more intense after effects, once smoked, eaten or, as is the trend currently, vaped. Now, instead of just the munchies and some red eyes to cover up, side effects of dagga, this hyper potent weed can have effects such as psychosis, addiction and odd bouts of illness.

“Marijuana is Natural”, but that doesn’t make it any less potent.

Even in its most natural composition, studies have shown that regular weed (or dagga as we call it in South Africa) use has had a correlation to the onset of psychosis, with people losing touch with reality. Audio and visual hallucinations can also take place, and the link is even stronger for those teens who use strong concentrations of cannabis, or who began taking the drug in their adolescence.

There are many studies available online which show the correlation over the years between the stronger concentration of weed and the increase in mental disorders. ( JAMA Psychiatry published a study in 2024 about this in Europe).  In addition, there are even reports of physical ailments in adolescents being recorded, and it’s linked to those who use dagga regularly (JAMA Report)

 There is a disorder known as cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, triggered by extended use of cannabis. This syndrome is characterised by painful physical reactions such as vomiting, dehydration, nausea and abdominal pain. These can and often do end up in visits to hospital emergency wards.

Vaping: Popular trend or gateway to suffering?

Are More Teens Vaping Dagga/Weed? Should we be  Alarmed?

The effects of high potency THC-based vaping can be quite dangerous and alarming. THC-based vaping cartridges, which are filled with oils are massively popular worldwide. The oils in the cartridge are filled with cutting agents, often to add flavour and lower the oil’s viscosity. These cutting agents, often comprising of Vitamin E and Phytol, have been linked to pulmonary issues and things like lung inflammation and shortness of breath.

Then there are also the risks of dagga addiction. Both physical and psychological dependence on cannabis is a real thing. Highly potent THC does not contain mass amounts of CBD, and certainly not the amounts that are considered therapeutic. One cannot argue that vaping, CBD-based cartridges can assist the smoker in a healthy way, and (CBD has been, on its own merit associated with seizure and pain alleviation.) Why Marijuana Is Not So Innocent!

Is vaping a gateway tool to other drugs?

It is often professed by vaping companies that vaping is a way to end regular cigarette smoking. The irony is, however, that vaping may be a way to end smoking, but a way to begin other drugs…And worse yet, for many teens, it can end up as a way to begin smoking cigarettes! In the United States alone, studies have found that young teenagers who vaped, were more than likely to try traditional cigarettes within a year. Not only that, there are also studies that reveal that even if the vaping is dagga free, the teens will most likely begin smoking weed after vaping, often without even showing signs that they would try marijuana, pre–vaping.
Big Rise in Marijuana Vaping Among U.S. Teens

Suspect that your child is vaping marijuana?  Here are some signs of dagga abuse.

If you are concerned that your teen may be smoking dagga, you need to be vigilant. Firstly, look for warning signs. These include:

  • Bouts of irritation, mood swings.
  • Eyes that appear bloodshot.
  • Increased thirst, munchies, overeating in a binge-worthy fashion.
  • Occasional nosebleeds.
  • Smells that you cannot pick up – ( weed has a distinct smell)
  • Unmarked packaging in cupboards and unusual-looking vape cylinders, often not branded.
  • Strange packages that do not have labels
  • Sneakiness, and reluctance to show vape, or deliberately hiding, shuffling away vape bags, containers etc.
  • Daytime Drowsiness
  • Time judgement issues
  • Coughing and wheezing increases
  • Concentration issues
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Coordination issues
  • Overly talkative
dagga marijuana legalized - what now

*If your teen is displaying any of these, or other signs you believe could be indicative of marijuana vape usage, it is probably best to have a chat with them. With dagga there are health risks, there are social risks and there are physical dangers they should be made aware of.

Here are some of the general issues, side effects and other effects of vaping marijuana:

Marijuana use, in general, has both short- and long-term side effects. Some of dagga use short-term effects include:

  • Coordination issues
  • Senses are distorted
  • Anxiety
  • Heart rate issues (increase in speed)
  • Paranoia, memory and learning issues.
  • Further, more prolonged issues include:
  • Addiction likely
  • Chronic coughs
  • Schizophrenia
  • Memory and learning issues

Vaping can physically injure the very sensitive lung organs, which could lead to issues like rapid onset cough, breathing issues, vomiting, weight loss, nausea, and even diarrhea.

So what’s the conclusion on dagga and vaping?

Marijuana vaping has become more popular than traditional pot smoking among all racial and ethnic groups. The old days of smoking weed with little to no thought of its effects, (note, it is still cannabis and has addictive possibilities, regardless of the year, type, etc.) are over. Teens are teens, and they will still commit acts you may tell them not to; be it smoking a dagga joint, vaping, or eating homemade dagga brownies, for example. The key here is to educate yourself and your loved ones about the new age of weed smoking; the issues with vaping and of course the volatility and dangers of this new age of high potency TCH.

Decriminalisation of Private use of Marijuana

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