Nicotine vape pens, which are legal, look remarkably similar to THC vape pens, which are not.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office is asking parents to keep an eye out for THC vape pens.

County officials say they have seen continued teenage usage of THC vape pens, easily confused with nicotine vape pens. This has created challenges for law enforcement and parents in identifying and keeping THC pens out of the hands of teenagers.

“The detection of the presence of THC can be difficult, especially without any packaging material on the canisters,” says LPD Sgt. Bill Koepke. “However, there are processes through the state lab that the substance can be tested.”

Koepke, who has been in law enforcement for 29 years and is on the Lincoln-Lancaster County Drug Task Force, says the usage of vape pens has exploded in recent years.

“Obviously, the nicotine vaping came first,” Koepke said. “[In] 2016, we were seeing that and then followed shortly thereafter with with increases in the vaping of cannabis and marijuana.”

Of course, THC vape pens are illegal in Nebraska.

Koepke says possession of marijuana is the most common charge associated with people found with these pens, although people have also been cited with driving under the influence and possession with the intent to distribute.

He encourages parents to educate themselves and their children about the dangers of all vape pens.

“There are many different studies being done about lung issues that are becoming a problem because of vaping whether it be the nicotine vapor or the cannabis vapes,” Koepke said. “Any time you find a vape cartridge, you need to talk to your children about not only nicotine, but but cannabis, whatever you suspect, and the harms and dangers of it.”

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