Teenagers are exposed to so many forms of substances that it can be difficult to know what to expect. Of course, smoking marijuana has been around for years and depending on how you look at it, it has mostly been pretty harmless. Until now. Recently, marijuana concentrates have become popular. Although, in essence, this substance comes from the same source, they can have a much more potent effect. It’s important to understand marijuana concentrates risks.
If you’re taking or considering taking any drug, or if you suspect that someone you know may have a problem with a particular substance, it’s best to educate yourself with the facts. Learn more about marijuana concentrates and the risks they pose in the guide that follows.
What is it, Exactly?
Marijuana concentrates are hardened masses of THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. It is normally yellow or brownish in color and looks like honey or hardened butter.
It’s much stronger than any joint the average person would roll, where the levels of THC are usually around 20 percent. The THC levels of a marijuana concentrate range from 40-80 percent, so it can be up to four times as strong. As one can imagine, this means its effects are also much stronger.
Reports have said that one hit of “wax” can be the equivalent of two joints. It can be gooey, like honey, waxy or hard.
It’s called by a variety of street names. 710 is a common one (this is the word oil flipped and spelled backward), budder, wax, honey oil, BHO (butane honey oil), dabs, shatter, black glass and errl.
How Are Marijuana Concentrates Made?
It’s made by extracting the THC from marijuana plants. One popular method is quite dangerous, yet many people try to do it at home. This is when someone uses butane, which can be very explosive, and puts it through an extraction tube that is filled with marijuana.
When the butane is burned off or evaporates, a sticky liquid remains. This is called “wax” or “dab”. Using this process poses a considerable risk, as butane is a highly flammable solvent. People have died due to explosions in their homes and others been injured when trying to make the substance.
How Do You Use Marijuana Wax?
There are a number of ways that people ingest marijuana concentrates. Smoking is probably the most popular form for people to get high, so that doesn’t vary much from the traditional ways of smoking marijuana, except for the effects. People often use heated glass bongs or oil pipes to use the substance.
Another way is by putting it in food or drink – like a traditional weed, people bake brownies and cookies with concentrates. Putting it in coffee has also become popular in certain states.
Using a vape or e-cigarette is some users way of getting their THC fix, as it is easy to hide and very acceptable in public. The person simply takes a “dab” of the marijuana concentrate, then they heat it using the vape and the vapors that they inhale give them an instant high.
People think that it’s odorless and while it is less so than smoking a joint, it’s still a distinctive scent.
The potential risks of “dabbing” aren’t all known yet, as it is quite new. However, the negative effects of high doses of marijuana are known, and since the concentrates are so potent, the user does experience a strong high, but they are also susceptible to much worse side effects too.
There are several health risks involved with abusing marijuana and these are exacerbated when it is abused in concentrate form.
The following are some negative effects, that are felt much more keenly by those who abuse “wax” or “budder”:
- Bad memory
- Increased heart rate
- Heightened blood pressure
- Increased anxiety
- Sensory perception changes
- Panic attacks
- Seeing things (hallucinating)
- Hearing things that may not be there
- Feeling like your skin is crawling
- Temporary psychotic breaks (may require hospitalization)
It is now possible to overdose on marijuana, something that wasn’t thought possible previously.
More Serious Problems
Marijuana alone has been known to give users a psychedelic experience but concentrate can make this much more heightened. This can have pretty negative effects and be hard to shake off. Several users have been hospitalized due to this.
One teenager was hospitalized for seizures following ingestion of concentrates. Several people have been known to pass out from the effects of wax and if this happens, they are at risk of banging themselves onto something sharp and severely hurting themselves. At least one person has died this way.
If someone has a preexisting mental condition, even if they’re not aware of it, it can be very dangerous for them to even experiment with this substance. Those who have had bad experiences include people who suffer from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
Those who vape are exposing themselves to the molecules from butane, which is toxic, and this can have long-term harmful effects on their lungs. The long-term side effects are yet to be seen, as people have only started abusing concentrates recently.
However, it is expected that they will be worse than the long term effects that have been seen in regular marijuana users. Chronic health issues and withdrawal are much more likely with this new substance.
Another serious health risk is butane poisoning. When the butane is used for extraction, it leaves behind some of its neurotoxins. This can literally kill brain cells. There’s a reason why the process of extraction is illegal.
It appears that this has become a popular pastime among many teenagers, with increasing use among 8th-12th graders. If you have someone of that age group around, be open and talk to them about drugs. Try not to be judgemental and understand that they will be curious.
If you’re concerned about a loved one’s use of marijuana concentrates then there are options you can consider, such as intervention and rehabilitation.