GLOUCESTER TOWNSHIP, N.J. (WTXF) - Police are drawing attention to the growing rate of young people using vape pens and how easily it can go undetected.
Police say their concern heightened about a week and a half ago when the pulled over a car that blew through a red light at the intersection of Blenheim Erial Road and The Black Horse Pike in Gloucester Township. After pulling the car over, officers say they found 3,000 vape pen cartridges labeled “Pendemic” in the backseat all filled with 90% THC oil.
Gloucester Township police chief Harry Earle says the estimated street value of the cartridges is almost $114,000.
Police say three men from Maryland were arrested, including 23-year-old Mahdi El-Abed. He is facing numerous drug charges, including intent to distribute marijuana, according to police.
"It is so difficult to fight this,” says principal of Timber Creek High School, Kasha Giddis.
"Commonly we use USB's and pens and all those type of things in our schools and typically the vehicles they use to smoke and do vaping look like the things we commonly have in our buildings."
Police say kids as young as middle school are vaping as well. The THC is often flavored so there is no strong smell of marijuana. Because of this, many parents and teachers seem to be oblivious to the problem as well.
"If you smell pineapple in the back of the class because a student was using it, you would not know intuitively that it is a tobacco product or even potentially THC,” says Giddis.
Executive Director of Genesis Counseling Centers Barry Bailey worries vaping marijuana is just the beginning for vape pen smokers.
“This issue of being able to use these devices to ingest harder substances such as heroin is real, and it’s on the way here,” says Bailey.