The Dalles High School officials reported to police Nov. 14 they believed a student brought a THC vape pen to school, which resulted in two other students being hospitalized, according to police logs. THC is the main active ingredient of marijuana.
The police log showed the call coming in shortly after 1:30 p.m. from the high school’s vice principal, Phil Williams. The student who brought the vape pen to school was cited for being a minor in possession of marijuana and was released to his parents, according to the log.
TDHS Principal Kurt Evans said that while he could not speak to specific incidents, the high school has had two marijuana or THC incidents so far this year, both from vape pens.
A marijuana vape pen is a handheld marijuana vaporizer that delivers a strong concentration of the drug to the user.
Evans said vaping has become more common in the last 2-3 years. He said the most marijuana or drug incidents he’s had in a single year has been “maybe eight,” and the lowest was “four or five.”
He said teachers and students are good at reporting it when they see it happening.
“I’m not naive,” he said. “They hide it. I’m sure it’s happening, but generally, in the school I don’t feel that’s excessive” to have a few reports a year.
“I’d like it to be zero, of course,” he added.
He said teachers and students “don’t want it in the school any more than you or I want it in our neighborhood.”
He said fads come and go, and vaping is the latest fad.
He said he wasn’t surprised to see the incidents of vaping dropping at the high school. “Last year was probably the high mark, and this year it’s come down quite a bit. There’s a noticeable decline this year,” he said.
Students have “access to as much information as you and I. I want to believe that they’re cluing in to how dangerous it actually is.”
Over the summer, a national rash of lung illnesses and deaths from vaping are now suspected to be linked to black-market suppliers and additives.
Federal, state and local health agencies are investigating an outbreak of vaping-associated lung disease or EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury), which has now sickened 2,172 people and killed 42, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
The CDC has identified vitamin E acetate as a chemical of concern. It might be used as an additive, most notably as a thickening agent in THC-containing vaping products.
The CDC recommends that people not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like friends and family or from online dealers.
Evans said the dangers of vaping are stressed in the health curriculum.
“Again, it’s certainly not eliminated,” Evans said, “but I think in today’s day and age, kids have access to a lot of information, and the majority of our kids are pretty intelligent. Unfortunately, there’s a few that give the rest a bad name.”
He said the state’s legalization of recreational use of marijuana actually toughened laws against underage marijuana users. “Ironically, the marijuana law in Oregon has helped clarify things with minors,” he said.