If the aroma of mango or pineapple is strong enough, cops may have no idea when an individual is smoking an illegal substance right in front of them.

Vaping devices, officials and anti-drug advocates warn, are a growing concern because of their ability to deliver not only nicotine, but marijuana in vapor form, and more dangerous drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

The problem struck a nerve in Gloucester Township in late May when an officer, during a traffic stop, seized thousands of e-cigarette cartridges filled with THC oil — the primary agent involved in creating a marijuana "high."

According to Capt. Brendan Barton, the cartridges were marked as containing "88 percent THC oil." A typical joint, he said, contains between 12 and 18 percent.

Barton said it's not certain where the three men — all from Maryland — were going or who would be receiving the products. But given the quantity, he said, it's likely some of the cartridges would have ended up in the hands of minors.

Prior to the May 21 incident, the department had made a handful of arrests involving marijuana-laced e-cigarette paraphernalia.

Barton said the cartridges — just as they would when delivering nicotine — come in any number of flavors that can mask a drug's scent.

"You won't get the pungent marijuana smell that you would get off of any smoked marijuana joint," he said.

Matt Birchenough, media coordinator for the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, said major seizures such as the one in Gloucester "open some eyes" about the demand for drug-laced cartridges.

"There is a concerted effort being made to appeal to people with marijuana as the main substance for these vaping devices," Birchenough said.

According to the latest youth tobacco survey, 9.6 percent of New Jersey youth are using e-cigarettes — more than double the rate of youth reporting the usage of traditional cigarettes. Several school districts have added electronic smoking devices to their on-campus tobacco bans.

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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at dino.flammia@townsquaremedia.com.

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