"Is it here in the Tri-Cities," KEPR asked a high school student, "yeah, definitely," he replied.
We're not just talking tobacco, we're talking pot smoked through e-cigarettes. Within a minute of school getting out, KEPR found out not just if kids were using it, but where to go. "Go over there to the park," another student told us.
A park, car, even your house to smoke and you probably won't know. "The house won't stink, clothes won't stink, car won't stink," said Randy Schiewe, the owner of 9's Electronic Cigarette shop in Kennewick. The same reason many adults are switching from a cigarette to an electronic smoker, but for kids consider it conceal and carry.
"It probably looks like a pen to them," said Schiewe about parents who don't know. He says it's not the intent for electronic smokers to look like something they're not. They were never intended for kids, and you have to be 18 to buy them. But just like kids can get their hands on alcohol, Schiewe says kids can get their hands on these and that's why he wants to make sure you know what to look for.
The pens are elongated and most have a tapered end. "This would be the easiest way you would see liquid marijuana being used," he said. People put liquid THC, the active ingredient of pot, or hash oil in the vaporizer instead of tobacco. As a parent, he says you might not find the vaporizer laying around, but you might find the charger and dismiss it. It looks like a cell phone charger, USB port on one end, a small box with a female screw port on the other. "You might find it plugged into a wall, computer or car," he said.
Pull up You-Tube and in less than two minutes, a kid has a way to smoke pot without a trace.
"If there's a way to do something bad with it, they will find a way," said Schiewe. The one benefit says Schiewe, right now liquid THC isn't as easy to get. "I am in the business and I don't know how to get it," he said. It's a matter of being informed of the new trends hitting your kids to keep them safe. Schiewe hopes it's a conversation you'll now be ready to have.
However you feel on the electronic cigarette issue, I did find when talking to kids one overwhelming trend. All the kids who knew teens who smoked e-cigs, called it a safe alternative.