• Important Information

    District letters to parents: Letter in English, Carta En Espanol


    Health and Safety Message: Vapes and Synthetic Substances

    Since the beginning of the calendar year there have been an alarming number of emergency responses to health and life-threatening symptoms suggestive of cannabinoid use in high schools through out the district. Cannabinoids and “synthetics” have gone by many names and delivery systems; most recently young people have been using vapes to deliver what they understand to be cannabinoid oil (CBD) into their systems. Synthetic cannabinoids are human-made products designed to mimic marijuana. These are sometimes called synthetics as they do not occur naturally. They are some times called cannabinoid oils or CBDs. 

    Concerning signs and symptoms include headaches, fast heart rate, palpitations, nausea, vomiting, dilated pupils, suicidal behavior, dizziness, agitation, seizures, unconsciousness, and death. The most common signs we are seeing within the district include fast heart rate, palpitations, agitation, headaches, and seizures with a history of recent “vaping.”

  • What Has Changed? 

    In drug prevention we often ask a leading question, “Which drug do young people do the most?” The answer is, “the one they can get their hands on.” As dangerous mood-altering substances become more accessible their use increases.

    While synthetics are not new, the use of the vape as a delivery system is evolving. Of concern is the development of the “Juul” (pronounced ‘Jewel’) which is a very small vaporizer. The Juul looks like a flash drive or firestick for your television. They can be charged through a USB port. The size of the Juul and the rapid dissipation of the vapor makes detecting these devices very difficult in schools, home and the community. The ability to use the Juul discretely is appealing for those who want to covertly vape in public spaces.

  • Pens and flash drive (third from left for scale). Juul second from left, cartridges with caps featured.

    Vapes, Synthetics & CBDs


    Several recently confiscated vapes: Juul is third from left.

    Vapes, Synthetics & CBDs


    A variety of recently confiscated vape “juices”.

    Vapes, Synthetics & CBDs

  • Health Consequences

    Listing the health consequences of vaping and synthetics is challenging. In large part this is due to the fact that in many cases, young people have no idea what they are ingesting. As a result, the range of symptoms has the potential to be tremendous and grave. For example, a vape infused with fentanyl could result in immediate death. Moreover, it is challenging for emergency responders to know how to respond without an accurate sense of which drugs are being used. For example, during an overdose  opioids respond to Narcan or Naloxone-vapes and synthetics won’t respond to this treatment.

    Since vapes are legal for adults, young people understandably misperceive this to mean that they are “safe.” Putting aside the confounding variables of unknown additives being vaped, there are many health considerations of immediate concern for our kids.

    According to Education Safety Publishing ,the side-effects of synthetic liquids in vapes include:

    • Anxiety
    • Agitation
    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations/Mental Health Crisis
    • Chest Pains
    • Rapid Heartbeat
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Seizures
    • Muscle Spasms
    • Suicidal Behavior
    • Violent Thoughts
  • School Level Consequences

    Currently, the District is exploring modifications to Board Policies and will be attempting to have all possession and use of vapes disciplined as the equivalent of drugs and alcohol on campus. This violation could result in a suspension for up to ten days, referral to an eight-hour drug prevention program for parents and students, and possible enrollment in an alternative school setting.

  • What Can Families Do? 

    Years of prevention research has demonstrated that parents can be a force for prevention. While there is no guarantee that your involvement will change your child’s behavior, as parents and caregivers we must do all we can to be sure our young people have the information they need to make safe and responsible choices.

    • Monitor your environment: If you see what appear to be the covers to flash drives around your home or in your child’s room be on the look out for the use of a Juul. Don’t ignore what you see and suspect.

    • Be fearless in your conversations: Be honest with your children about your concern for their immediate and long-term health. Confront the use of these substances with love but remain committed to a stance prohibiting the use of all substances. Lean into the discomfort of this dialogue and remember you are there to help your child make the best choices they can.

    • Hack your kids: It is important to review your child’s social media. Vaping and drug use are just a few of the concerns that you might encounter by looking through their SnapChat photos. Young people often treat social media like an unchecked zone where they freely post questionable and concerning practices. Ruin a good day if you must and go through their social media.

    • Talk prevention: Even if you don’t suspect your children are using vapes or synthetics it is important to make them aware of the immediate health and life-threatening possibilities of the use of synthetics and vapes.

    • You are Not Alone: While vapes are legal in our state, North Carolina General Statue 14-313 (b) prohibits the sale of vapes (listed in section a.5. of this law) to anyone under 18. If you know of a company selling these products, please contact local law enforcement. 

    • Seek professional help: If your child appears unable to stop using vapes and/or synthetics consult a substance abuse or mental health professional to help determine if your child would benefit from services to address the abuse of substances.


    Your child’s health and safety are our greatest concerns. We need your partnership in helping equip your children to make safe and healthy choices.