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Tooele Co. School District warns of uptick in THC vape pen use

Posted at 5:12 PM, Mar 25, 2019

TOOELE, Utah — The Tooele County School District is warning parents after seeing an uptick in vape use among students and it’s not just nicotine.

Sgt. Jeremy Hansen with the Tooele City Police Department says they wanted to get the word out after two incidents in a matter of days involving students using vape pens to ingest THC.

“The school district, law enforcement, parents, our general community, we all need to work together,” Hansen said.

The first incident took place on March 6 at a Tooele-area high school.

“A student had used a THC vape pen and had an adverse reaction and medical was called and the student was ultimately transported to a local hospital,” Hansen said.

Then five days later another incident on March 11.

“An edible brownie was brought to school and shared amongst the students and one student also had a bad reaction to that,” Hansen said.

Marie Denson, Communications Director with the Tooele County School District, said they’ve seen an uptick in vape use among students of all ages.

“We’re seeing vaping devices as early as elementary school.  However, as far as the THC cartridges, were seeing those between 7th and 12th grade,” Denson said.

Police say the uptick is likely because vape pens are easier to get and easier to hide.

“It’s not going to give the odor of marijuana. It’s going to smell like something sweet,” Hansen said.

However, they're also a lot more dangerous.

“A normal marijuana joint would 18-25% THC. This is upwards of 80% that we’re seeing so they take this and it’s a much stronger high, a lot higher THC levels then what they’re used to,” Hansen said.

If you find a pen and want to determine what your child is vaping, you can usually spot the difference based on the consistency of the liquid.

“It’s fairly runny. It looks like water. What these are being used for, this is nicotine,” Hansen said.

Whereas THC looks a lot different.

“When you start seeing cartridges that unscrew like this and it’s super thick oil like what you’re seeing in here where it looks like molasses that’s the difference. This is generally going to be your THC,” Hansen said.

The school district wants parents to get ahead of the problem by monitoring their kids' social media use.

“With digital media it’s so much easier to gain access to illegal drugs,” Denson said.

To learn more, parents can attend an informational session on April 4 at 6:30pm at the Community Learning Center located at 211 S. Tooele Blvd.