Prevalence and Correlates of Vaping Cannabis in a Sample of Young Adults

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Vaping nicotine (i.e., the use of e-cigarettes and similar devices to inhale nicotine) is becoming increasingly popular among young people. Though some vaporizers are capable of vaporizing cannabis, sparse research has investigated this method of cannabis administration. The present study examines the prevalence and correlates of vaping cannabis in a sample of 482 college students. Participants reported high lifetime rates of vaping nicotine (37%) and cannabis (29%). Men (rs = 0.09, p = .047) and individuals from higher socioeconomic status families (rs = 0.14, p = .003) vaped cannabis more frequently than women and individuals from lower SES families. In addition, those who vaped cannabis more frequently were more open to new experiences (rs = 0.17, p < .001) and showed greater approval of smoking cannabis regularly (rs = 0.35, p < .001). Among the largest correlates of cannabis vaping were frequent cannabis use (rs = 0.70, p < .001) and nicotine vaping (rs = 0.46, p < .001), suggesting that availability of cannabis and vaporizers is particularly important. Participants’ top reason for vaping cannabis, endorsed by 65% of those who had vaped cannabis, was convenience and discreetness for use in public places. Several correlates distinguished cannabis users who vaped from cannabis users who did not vape, most notably more frequent cannabis use (odds ratios [OR] = 3.68, p < .001), alcohol use (OR = 2.07, p < .001), nicotine vaping (OR = 1.73, p < .001), and greater approval of smoking cannabis regularly (OR = 2.15, p < .001). Findings suggest that cannabis vaping is prevalent among young adults, particularly among those who use other substances frequently and have more favorable attitudes toward smoking cannabis. Research is needed on the antecedents and potential harms and benefits of cannabis vaping in young adulthood.

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