How Addicts are Vaping Methamphetamine

Vaping Methamphetamine

It was just a matter of time. Officers on the street are now encountering suspects that are vaping methamphetamine. So how are they doing it? Does it smell like meth when they smoke it? First, let’s look at how a vaporizer works.

VapeAnatomyAll vape pens basically have the same components.

  • A rechargeable lithium battery. Most are charged with a USB cord connected to your computer.
  • A cartridge containing nicotine, flavoring and chemicals like glycerin or polyethylene glycol.
  • An atomizer, which consists of a heating coil.
  • A sensor that registers when you take a drag and activates the atomizer and LED light.

The atomizer heats the liquid to the boiling point of the liquid and then that liquid starts to turn into a vapor. It is a much lower temperature than burning a cigarette, where the users inhales smoke from the burning cigarette. The vapor dissipates quickly after exhaling and usually smells like the liquid that is being vaporized.

vaping methamphetamineHow Addicts are Vaping Methamphetamine

So, how are meth addicts smoking methamphetamine out of their vaporizers? They are mixing the methamphetamine with the liquid that is placed in the vaporizer. Mix in more meth than liquid and it will smell like meth when they smoke it. So, most users will mix in enough liquid to make it smell like cherries, strawberries or whatever liquid they are using to mask the smell of methamphetamine. The smoke from the meth will taste like the liquid being put in there. Can you imagine the problems we will have when teens find out that they can have cherry flavored meth out of a vape pipe?

Officers should know this process for obvious reasons. If you happen to arrest a person for DUI drugs, you now know that they can hide meth in their vape pens. I would suggest searching all vape pens when you have probable cause or consent. You can test the liquid with a presumptive test and it should test positive if there is methamphetamine in the liquid. There are pictures below for illustration.

Author: Keith Graves
Keith is the 2016 Narcotics Officer of the Year for the State of California and a prior winner of the MADD California Hero Award. Keith has been a Police Officer in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1990 and has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor. Keith is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292) and teaches both the DRE course and the Drug Abuse Recognition Course. Keith has also taught at the Police Academy and has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges. Keith has held other assignments besides narcotics including Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, COPPS Officer, Traffic Officer, and 20 years as a SWAT Team member and SWAT Team Leader. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. Keith earned a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary's College of California and a MA in Criminal Justice. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry.

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