How passe. Kids today often prefer a discreet vaporizer pen
Recently, a 16-year-old girl from the Westside we'll call Bridget became annoyed with her boyfriend, whom we'll call Bert. They'd been dating for almost a year when he bought a vaporizer pen. He quickly went from smoking weed before parties on the weekends to vaping THC every night before bed. His folks had no idea.
"He has, like, a really good reputation among the parents, and so he would never want to come off as that kid who smokes too much, so he was always really secretive about it," she says.
That's how it goes these days with vaporizer pens, which can be nearly odorless and are making it easier than ever to get high discreetly. Even if L.A. bans their use in public - or California bans wax, the cannabis concentrate usually used in these devices - it still won't stop them from getting high right under their parents' noses.
Or their teachers'. One high school student reports recently seeing a group of girls passing around two vape pens in the senior lounge, getting stoned barely 10 feet away from the principal's office.
Everyone knows that California's legalization of medical marijuana has made the drug more accessible to a new generation of high school kids.
Still, it's one thing to get the pot; previous generations had to worry about concealing the smell and stashing the equipment as well. Blowing into cardboard toilet paper tubes through dryer sheets could only get you so far.
But vape pens produce only a slight odor, one that doesn't linger for hours like marijuana smoke. Also, the pens are small and discreet, and so kids can get high nearly anywhere - in a school bathroom, in the attic, in their bedrooms - where they can be alone for five minutes.
Anecdotally, it's pretty clear that boys are more likely to invest in the pens - which can cost nearly $100 or more - but girls are just as likely to partake, especially at parties.
How can they be so brazen? Well, it helps that there are no more bulky baggies to get busted with. Wax is often stored in pocket-friendly, half-dollar sized canisters. Most parents and teachers might not even recognize that the mushy green or yellow THC concentrate is a drug at all, let alone an unregulated one that could contain dangerous amounts of butane.
And one boy, now a freshman at USC, said his prestigious high school's lecture-style classes made getting stoned on school time much easier.
"To be blatantly high in class there was not really a problem," he says. "[And] they don't pay that much attention to the students when you're not in the classroom."
So, should L.A. parents be freaking out?
Probably not. Though those who read The New York Times are crappping their pants, in reality, this trend may have already crested. According to many of the adolescents we spoke with, it peaked about a year ago, when L.A.-based Grenco Science debuted their new G-Pen. Kids estimate that within weeks 10% of their senior classes had purchased one. (Keep in mind many more of them already owned bongs.)
What happened since then? Well, they realized just how fragile and difficult to clean vape pens can be. Plus, many said that vaping didn't get them stoned enough; vaporizers tend to produce a heady, quick high when compared to the lasting effects of actual cannabis.
"I know a couple girls that have [a vape pen], but they're selling theirs because they don't like it," one high school senior says. "It was like a fast cool thing for five seconds but it didn't click onto people."
She says that second-semester seniors like herself would rather leave campus during lunch, smoke out of a bong in someone's car, and then only hit the vape pen when they return to school in order to prolong the high.
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In fact, vape pens are more popular among high school sophomores and juniors, one boy explained, because most seniors have cars and, therefore, the freedom to smoke real weed whenever they want to.
So the moral of the story, here, parents? Your kids were getting high before vape pens, and they will get high after vape pens.
Oh, and one more thing: they aren't naive. They know that many of you are discreetly getting high your own selves, hoping they won't find out. It's a delicious irony.