Image of person using a Vape Pen
At a recent Seahawks football game in Seattle, Shy Sadis, 41, took a drag on a slim vapor pen that looked like a jet-black Marlboro. The tip glowed red as he inhaled.
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But the pen contained no nicotine. Instead, it held 250 milligrams of cannabis oil loaded with THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
 
“Nobody noticed,” said Sadis, who owns several marijuana dispensaries in Washington state. “You pull it out of your pocket, take a hit like a cigarette, put it back, and you’re done. It’s so discreet.”
 
The device, called a JuJu Joint, heralds a union that seems all but inevitable: marijuana and the e-cigarette, together at last in an e-joint. For years, people have been stuffing marijuana in various forms into portable vaporizers and into the cartridges of e-cigarettes. But the JuJu Joint is disposable, requires no charging of batteries or loading of cartridges and comes filled with 150 hits.
 
You take it out of the package and put it to your lips — that’s it. There is no smoke and no smell.
 
Since their introduction in April, 75,000 JuJu Joints have been sold in Washington state, where marijuana is recreationally and medically legal. The maker says that 500,000 will be sold this year and that there are plans to expand to Colorado and Oregon, where recreational use is legal, and to Nevada, where it is decriminalized.
 
“I wanted to eliminate every hassle that has to do with smoking marijuana,” said Rick Stevens, 62, the inventor and co-founder of JuJu Joints with Marcus Charles, a Seattle entrepreneur. “I wanted it to be discreet and easy for people to handle. There’s no odor, matches or mess.”
 
Not everyone is so enthusiastic. Many addiction researchers fear that e-cigarettes will pave the way to reliance on actual cigarettes, especially in teenagers. And THC adversely affects the developing brain, some studies have found, impairing attention and memory in adolescents and exacerbating psychiatric problems.
 
Retailers report that JuJu Joints are catching on, especially with women and consumers in their 40s to 60s.
 
“You wouldn’t believe the demographic this has opened up,” said Ed Vallejo, 60, a manager at New Vansterdam, a recreational store in Vancouver, Wash. “This is the older, retired set. The younger set can’t afford it.”
 
JuJu Joints for recreational use cost $65 to $100 each, 25 percent of which goes to the state’s Liquor Control Board.
 
“The underlying reason people buy it is because of its design and because you can smoke it in public,” said Lindsay Middleton, 21, a bud-tender at Green Lady Marijuana, a recreational store in Olympia. Though smoking marijuana in public is illegal, customers report using JuJu Joints while skiing, hiking and going to concerts.
 
Law-enforcement agencies are concerned that discreet vapor pens filled with cannabis oil are already being abused by teenagers, and that many are sure to lay hands on JuJu Joints.
 
“If you go on Instagram, you will find hundreds of thousands of postings by kids on how they are using variants of e-cigarettes, or e-cigarettes themselves, to smoke pot in the presence of their parents and at school, and getting by,” said Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.
 
According to the latest Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual study of 40,000 teenagers conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2014 marked the first year that more teenagers used e-cigarettes than traditional ones.
 
The study also found that in the past year, 35.1 percent of 12th-graders consumed marijuana, making it the most-common illicit drug among high-school seniors.
 
By Kira Peikoff ~ THE NEW YORK TIMES  ~ January 20, 2015
 
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