|Event Title:||The Abuse of E-Cigarettes, Their Impact On Criminal Justice|
|Hosting Organization:||National Institute of Justice|
, United States
Thursday, August 18, 2016 11:00:00 AM EDT - 12:00:00 PM EDT
Duration: 1 hour(s)
E-cigarettes are used as alternatives to traditional cigarettes, for recreational activity, and as a delivery device for other licit or illicit drugs. This forum discusses the problem to public health/criminal justice, how ecigs work, and other research.
They are filled with a variety of refill formulations (e-liquids) that are typically comprised of nicotine, water, propylene glycol (PG), and glycerin (VG). Many of these e-liquids also contain a variety of flavoring and coloring agents, making them conceivably more appealing to a younger population of smokers. An analytical methodology to analyze the e-cigarettes, e-liquids and the aerosol generated by the devices was developed to characterize the abuse potential in this growing industry.
Google and IFTT searches revealed a robust community of experienced users describing and promulgating modifications and adulterations to electronic cigarettes and e-liquids, including illicit drug delivery, through videos, social media, and user blogs, such as Reddit and YouTube. As of December 2015, 47 states have banned sales to minors, 8 have regulated the sales of e-liquids, and 7 have banned the use in public places. The media regularly reports on rising concerns of e-cigarette usage, ranging from concerns of 2nd hand exposure to exploding devices to methods of publicly consuming illicit substances.
Twenty-seven e-liquids with nicotine with labeled concentrations ranging from 0-22 mg/mL. They were found to contain nicotine ranging from 53-139% of the labeled concentration. The concentration of nicotine in the aerosols generated by the device increased as device voltage increased. An e-liquid sample purportedly containing THC and CBD confirmed positive for each.
The SPME method using GC-MS and DART-MS detected several known constituents, including nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin, and a variety of flavoring agents produced by e-liquids during aerosolization in an electronic cigarette. Several eliquids have been found to contain drugs of abuse such as THC, CBD, mitragynine, apomorphine, and MDMB-fubinaca.
A problem that can arise with using electronic cigarettes to deliver illicit drugs is that the dosing can be increased by turning up the wattage on the device. This method to increase dosage alone, or combined with increasing the volume of the “puff”, could easily lead to overdoses. Additionally, increasing temperatures could lead to pyrolysis products which can potentially be used as biomarkers. Drug forums are providing cautionary tales to users, however, these are overshadowed by the clear benefits these devices bring to drug users.
Few peer-reviewed manuscripts exist in the literature that describe, define, and illustrate the use of electronic cigarettes. This forum describing how they work and their efficacy in drug delivery will be of great benefit to the forensic science community. Given that one role of the forensic toxicologist is to define and characterize drug usage trends, publicly funded research poses an important, relevant, and critically timed study to address an identified threat to public health and criminal justice. This forum will support analytical efforts in controlled substances units and support the findings and opinions of scientists, medical examiners, death investigators, and forensic toxicologists as they present analytical results. It will also provide greater understanding in the court systems nationwide as to the nature of drug usage, abuse, and overdose cases in which electronic cigarettes were used to deliver an illicit drug.
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