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Increase in marijuana vaping a concern for police

FILE - In this April 23, 2014, file photo, an electronic cigarette is demonstrated in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

WASHINGTON — Electronic cigarettes are popular among smokers for a number of reasons, but now they’re getting interest from people who may never have used nicotine: Pot users have discovered e-cigarettes.

“It didn’t take long before people figured out, ‘Hey, if I can smoke liquid nicotine, I can smoke liquid marijuana in these things,'” says Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone. And he says that’s exactly what his officers are finding.

The concern from police is that when processed for use in e-cigarettes, the distinctive odor of marijuana is reduced, and it becomes harder to detect during traffic stops.

The potency is another concern. The delivery system of an e-cigarette gives a faster, more potent high to the user.

“And it really hits on drugged driving, because they don’t realize they’re stoned as fast,” says Didone.

Another way marijuana is processed turns it into a sticky, waxy substance which is sometimes stored in the tiny cosmetic canisters used by lip balm manufacturers.

“If your son or daughter suddenly shows an interest in lip balm, when they didn’t before? You might want to check that out,” Didone says.

Didone says the decriminalization of marijuana means more people will likely use it, and police worry that could mean more drugged drivers on the road. According to current Montgomery County police data, about one-quarter of the drivers arrested for driving under the influence of drugs are high on marijuana.

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