Vaping

The use of e-cigarettes has become more and more prevalent, as the common citizen is more aware of the health risks involving the use of tobacco products, however, a recent rash of reported lung injuries across the nation, and the implementation of vaping bans in four states, are starting to raise questions about the secondary effects of vaping.

While vaping advocates are for stringent regulations, they still consider the use of e-cigarettes does not represent a health hazard, and have attributed the lung injuries and deaths across the country to faulty vaping devices.

Rick Martinez, owner of Del Rio Vapor and CBD oil shops, said stricter regulation to prevent young adults under the age of 21 to buy e-devices and oils is needed.

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported that in 2018, 20.8 percent of U.S. high school students admitted to using an e-cigarette in the past 30 days; this was a 9.1 percent increase compared to 2017.

“From 2017-2018, U.S. middle school students who used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days increased from 3.3 percent to 4.9 percent,” according to the department.

In the 2018 Texas Youth Tobacco Survey, 13 percent of youth admitted to having used e-cigarettes in the past 30 days. Out of that percentage, 18.9 percent were high school students and six percent were middle school students.

Legal implications

The City of Del Rio, Del Rio Police Department and San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District addressed regulations, current statistics and the impact of using vape pens, tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as THC, and cannabinol, commonly known as CBD.

The City of Del Rio Code of Ordinances Chapter 14, Article II, Section 14-12, lists vape pens as electronic smoking devices. “Electronic smoking device means any product containing or delivering nicotine or any other substance intended for human consumption that can be used by a person to stimulate smoking through inhalation of vapor or aerosol of from the product.”

The electronic smoking device term includes e-cigarettes, e-cigars, e-hookahs, vape pens, tank systems or advanced personalized vaporizer or under any other product name or descriptor that is manufactured, distributed, marketed or sold.

According to city ordinances, smoking is prohibited in public areas, certain outdoor areas, places of employment and other places unless designated otherwise. This includes “electronic cigarettes or any pipe or other device that contains lighted or burning tobacco or tobacco products intended for inhalation, in any manner or in any form, including vaping.”

There are no regulations in the code of ordinances regarding THC and CBD oils, but there are state laws in the Health and Safety code.

Del Rio Police Department Senior Officer Dulce Gomez, Internal Affairs Investigator and Public Information Officer, said the possession of less than one gram of THC oil is a state jail felony.

The police department has made 13 arrests in 2019 for possession of THC oil.

Nine of the arrests were state jail felonies of people in possession of a controlled substance with less than one gram. Three arrests were third degree felonies with people in possession of a controlled substance greater than one gram and less than four grams.

One arrest was a second degree felony of possession of a controlled substance greater than or equal to four grams and less than 400 grams. The age of the arrested individuals ranges from 14-29 years old.

According to Gomez, CBD products, such as CBD hemp oil, naturally contain little to no trace of THC. “CBD may be illegal to possess depending on the amount of THC content,” Gomez said.

The legal limit of THC traces in CBD is 0.03 percent. If CBD oil is tested and results positive, an individual may be arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance, according to Senior Officer Dulce Gomez.

Gomez said cannabis enthusiasts swear by THC and its healing properties. But the product can produce several potential side effects, which vary upon strain and method of consumption.

Some of the side effects from THC are headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, increased anxiety, paranoia, depression, sleepiness, lethargy, impaired judgement and impaired cognitive and coordination functions, according to Gomez.

School regulations

The 2019-2020 San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District Parent and Student Handbook, states students are prohibited from possessing or using any type of tobacco product, e-cigarettes or any other electronic vaporizing device while on school property at any time or while attending off-campus school-related activities.

Students engaging in selling, giving or delivering to another person or possessing, using, or being under the influence of any amount of marijuana, an alcoholic beverage, or a controlled substance or dangerous drug as defined by federal and state law, can be suspended, expelled or moved into a disciplinary alternative education placement.

Students will automatically be moved into a disciplinary alternative education placement if they sell, give, or deliver to another person, or possess, use, or are under the influence of a controlled substance, marijuana, or a dangerous drug in an amount not constituting in a felony offense, according to the student handbook.

The school district and staff enforce the prohibitions against the use of all tobacco products, e-cigarettes or any other electronic vaporizing device, by students and all others on school property and at school-sponsored events and school-related activities.

On March 7, the school district released a statement stating that an estimated 44 students were disciplined in the 2018-2019 school year, for possessing, selling or using marijuana or another controlled substance. At least one student was charged with a controlled substance felony, according to the statement.

According to the statement, the number of students disciplined was three times higher than previous years. Another caveat of the use of e-cigarettes, is the fact that students charged with a controlled substance felony will be affected when seeking financial aid from the government.

Students applying for federal aid must answer “yes” on the Free Application for Student Aid form if they had a drug conviction. Drug convictions may suspend a student’s eligibility for federal aid and the student will only gain eligibility after the suspension is lifted, or by completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved program, according to a published article by Federal Student Aid.

Rick Martinez, owner of Del Rio Vapor and CBD oil shops, said his businesses are very particular when it comes down to age restrictions. He said his shops request identification from everyone walking into the store and deny sales to those underage.

Martinez said his stores had denied at least 10 sales, but the number has increased since the legal age for smoking went up in Texas.

The number of cases of people with lung injuries keeps on multiplying, but according to advocates the usage of e-cigarettes and vaping products has helped people overcome the usage of cigarettes and other drugs, such as methamphetamine, also commonly known as meth, according to Martinez.

Martinez said military personnel, local law enforcement and medical employees also vape to help cope with their jobs.

“How would you feel taking that away from them? Do you think they’d be able to handle their jobs without that? Those are high stress jobs,” Martinez said.

LEGAL CONSEQUENCES

• Del Rio Police Department has made 13 arrests for the possession of THC oil in 2019.

• Nine of the arrests were state jail felonies, possession of a controlled substance less than one gram.

• Three arrests were third degree felonies, possession of a controlled substance greater than one gram and less than four grams.

• One arrest was a second degree felony, possession of a controlled substance greater than or equal to four grams and less than 400 grams.

• The age of the arrested individuals ranges from 14-29 years old.

Source: Del Rio Police Department

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