Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems and E-Liquid Modifications to Vape Cannabis Depicted in Online Videos

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JAMA Netw Open. 2023 Nov 1;6(11):e2341075. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.41075.


IMPORTANCE: Electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) were created to vape nicotine e-liquids; however, social media demonstrates increased ENDS modifications to vape cannabis. Analysis of social media content helps with understanding ENDS modifications for cannabis use, overlapping markets for ENDS and cannabis, and the need for additional regulation.

OBJECTIVE: To analyze online videos for use, modification, and marketing of ENDS to vape cannabis.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: In this qualitative study, 10 searches were performed on YouTube on July 14, 2022, using different combinations of relevant search terms to identify videos depicting modifications to ENDS and e-liquids to vape cannabis. The first 40 videos from each search (400 videos total, 152 without duplicates) were extracted, of which 59 included depiction or discussion of cannabis vaping content. Content analysis of videos included iterative development of codes, consensus building across team members, and reliability checks.

MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Metadata (ie, video length, number of likes, comments, and views) were extracted for included videos. Coding was performed for uploader type, modifications to ENDS and e-liquids, devices used, cannabis products vaped, age restriction, purchasing links, health claims, and discussion of warning messages and cannabis regulations.

RESULTS: Of the 59 videos analyzed, 34 (58%) included tetrahydrocannabinol; 33 (56%), cannabidiol; and 8 (14%), both. A total of 21 videos (36%) were age-restricted, while 25 (42%) included purchasing links for cannabis products, 20 (34%) for ENDS, and 7 (12%) for nicotine e-liquids. Twenty-six videos (44%) made claims about health benefits of vaping cannabis. Forty-one videos (69%) demonstrated vaping manufacturer-made cannabis products (eg, cannabis concentrates) with no modifications needed. Eighteen videos (31%) depicted modifications to e-liquids or ENDS for cannabis use. The most frequent modification was mixing e-liquids with cannabis products to be compatible with ENDS. The most frequently reported reason for modifications was to vape cannabis in public by using the same devices used for nicotine.

CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: This qualitative study of online videos found high frequencies of statements about health benefits from vaping cannabis, frequent purchasing links, and inadequate age restrictions. Exposure to such content on social media platforms may increase risk of cannabis vaping among youth. Use of the same devices for multiple substances may also enable dual use and complicate the US Food and Drug Administration’s regulation of ENDS.

PMID:37917060 | DOI:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.41075

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