A vape pen is a slim device that looks like a fountain pen in disguise. And, it’s been in the news lately because users of the new street drug called flakka have been using it to vaporize the potent stimulant and hallucinogenic drug. True to form, authorities zoomed in on the device that’s being used in a grossly misguided way by drug users.
Let me emphasize this: it’s just a tool. A vape pen or any type of vaporizer or e-cigarette is simply a tool. It wasn’t intended to be used as a drug paraphernalia. Foil is often used by heroin and meth users, but people aren’t up in arms about the widespread visibility of foil wrap in groceries and market shelves nationwide.
Cops Need to Know What’s Hidden in Your Vape Pens
What concerns cops most is that they can’t immediately see the contents of the vape pen. Some of these vaporizers have tanks that are hidden from sight, unlike a clearomizer that’s commonly used by RBAs and other high-tech mods.
Here’s what Lt. Ozzy Tianga of the Broward Sheriff’s Office said to CNN about this issue.
Gone are the days of getting caught smoking pot in school because you smelled like a skunk.
Among the most popular vaped synthetics, Scherbenske said, are the so-called “legal weeds” — K2 and Spice, synthetic drugs that mimic other drugs in many ways, but can have severe side-effects, too.
“They sit in the back of the room, and they think it’s funny,” Tianga said. “They are vaping, and what they are vaping — again — I cannot determine. From the smell I cannot determine. I actually have to get the pen out of their hand and there is very few field test kits that will tell you exactly what they are vaping.”
It’s normal for cops like Tianga to feel frustrated and unsure with themselves when they’re faced with a problem like this. The new type of drug doesn’t have a signatory odor and flavor, and once it’s been dissolved completely in a liquid solution, the synthetic drug becomes an invisible threat to the person who ingests or vapes it. The addition of a vaping device has turned this problem into a Gordian Knot that’s too big and complicated for local state and county authorities to handle.
Vaporizers as Drug Paraphernalia? No Way, Jose!
The FDA may not go as far as to categorize vaporizers as drug paraphernalia – or even as medical devices – despite what anti-vaping people may have been claiming or protesting in mainstream media. It’s painfully obvious, however, that there’s an existing black market for all kinds of vapor products and these kids have been getting their vape pens – and their drug supply – from the unscrupulous sellers of the underworld.
They’re probably using old vape pens, which didn’t have the prominent safety features found in newer models. For example, some advanced vaporizers have an auto-shutdown mechanism that blocks users from using their devices when there’s less than 3.5 volts of power remaining in the batteries.
The stealthy way the synthetic drug is being consumed by an increasing number of young people with the help of a vape pen also doesn’t bode well for the manufacturers and retailers of vaporizing products. It’s a strong argument for the federal government to start regulating the manufacture, distribution and sales of the vaporizers, e-juices and other related merchandise as soon as possible.
Using a vaporizer in a highly irresponsible and dangerous fashion not only puts the lives of these young addicts in danger, the egregious use of the device also perpetuates the cigarette use of thousands, if not millions, of smokers and dual-use vapers.
Unregulated Vaping of Liquid Flakka
Vapers have been using advanced vaporizers to regulate the amount of nicotine they consume each day. They know how to compute the exact amps and volts for their desired coil resistance to avoid damaging their mods and to enjoy a sub-ohm vaping experience safely.
However, the kids who use these devices don’t know how much of the drug to dilute in a liquid solution to prevent an overdose and what the optimal temperature is for vaporizing the spiked liquid without using up most of it. A burnt hit is a common enough problem among vapers. Setting the voltage too high could quickly burn off the juice in the tank’s drip tip. And so, more of the spiked solution is injected into the cartridge and increasing puffs of vapor are dragged out of the device to satisfy a flakka vaper’s need to absorb more of the substance into his or her body.
Stopping the entry of flakka, which is manufactured in underground drug factories in some Asian countries, such as China and Pakistan, should be foremost in the agenda of the DEA and other government agencies. It doesn’t benefit the rest of society, especially those law-abiding Americans who’ve been using their personal vaporizers to vape their favorite flavors of e-juice, for the FDA or some other federal agency to restrict the consuming public’s access to these vapor products.