What Is Marijuana Wax?
Marijuana wax is derived directly from marijuana and is commonly known as Butane Hash Oil (BHO), honey oil, budder, and shatter. The wax contains a higher concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extract than cannabis, which is the chemical responsible for the psychological effects on the brain. Wax resembles honey or candle wax and is most commonly smoked through a bong or e-cigarette. It can also be applied topically or added to food. The more potent and powerful concentration of THC leads to an immediate feeling of euphoria.
Waxes & oils can have up to eight times the concentration of THC compared to the buds people typically smoke. Wax is reported as being the purest cannabis product available, at anywhere between 82% and 99.7% pure THC.
Once marijuana oil has been created, it can be smoked in a slightly altered bong “rigs” and/or vape pens. Vaping is considered an efficient way to use it because of the higher temperatures required to evaporate the drug. Vaping marijuana concentrates is also very discrete and can be hard to identify as drug paraphernalia while putting off very little odor. E-cigarettes and vape pens can make it odorless and smokeless, meaning it is exceedingly easy to conceal.
Wax and oils have become increasingly popular on college campuses over the last five years. It has also been found in the possession of high school students. It is referred to as weed wax, dabbing, dabs or butane hash oil (BHO), which explains its 710-slang term (the number 710 spells oil upside down and backwards).
Another popular way of consuming marijuana concentrates oil is through food edibles. Edibles like marijuana brownies, cookies, and cake are common and especially dangerous because they risk being consumed by people unaware of their contents. Dispensaries commonly sell marijuana lollipops and other candy.
Predictably, the psychological effects, or highs, are much more intense from wax than from smoking the plant. Accordingly, it is more expensive than the plant, but it may last users much longer because it takes much less of the drug to get high.
Who Is Marijuana Wax Most Frequently Sold To?
Teenagers are the most at-risk age group to being exposed to marijuana wax. Many teens smoke marijuana wax from a dab pen and often use these pens because of their convenience. What some teens don’t know, is the high health risk associated with wax and dabs. They may believe that they are just hitting a pen with watered down cannabis oil; however, the concentrated strength of dabs could pose serious health risks.
How Is Marijuana Wax Made?
Although some states that regulate recreational cannabis sales provide “professional” services to make marijuana wax, there are few regulations around how much-concentrated THC wax can be. Creating hash oil, wax, or butter in these high concentrations typically involves butane, an inflammatory agent. Other solvents may be used, but butane is the most common and the most dangerous. The solvent is filtered through a tube containing marijuana leaves, stripping the THC out of the leaves. Butane is then burned off, or allowed to evaporate, leaving behind a sticky residue containing high concentrations of THC.
The medical cannabis movement sometimes promotes marijuana wax to rapidly stimulate appetite for those whose illness suppresses appetite or causes nausea. However, many of those who originally supported marijuana wax as a safe product no longer approve of it. The process was developed to extract as much THC from leftover, unsellable pieces of marijuana as possible. Because the process involves materials that can be ignited, it is extremely dangerous. Inhaling solvent vapors is very bad for the lungs, and working with these materials can cause explosions.
Side Effects of Smoking Marijuana Wax:
Marijuana leaves that are dried and smoked can be addictive enough. Growers have cultivated numerous strains over the decades to focus on specific chemicals, including THC, so many varieties of marijuana have high concentrations of THC anyway. These can be very addictive, leading to long-term abuse, and can even trigger mood disorders like anxiety or depression. Since wax has a much higher concentration of THC, it is likely much more addictive; however, it is a relatively new product, so it is hard to know for sure.
While cannabis can induce psychedelic experiences and have a negative impact on mood, marijuana wax intensifies these experiences due to the greater concentration of THC in the product.
Side effects often associated with smoking wax include:
- Increased anxiety
- Changes in sensory perception
- Poor memory
- Paranoia or panic attacks
- Hallucinations, both auditory and visual
- Temporary psychotic breaks (may require hospitalization)
- Increased heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Formication, or feeling like there are bugs on or under the skin
People who have existing mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia, can make these conditions worse when they smoke traditional marijuana. Wax increases the negative symptoms associated with these mental disorders worse, more frequent, and more disruptive.
Because oil, budder, and wax are fairly new substances, long-term side effects are unknown. However, it is likely that they are similar to side effects of smoking dried, leaf marijuana, but more harmful. Addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and chronic health issues are all risks of abusing marijuana wax.
As wax is manufactured with butane, molecules of the solvent can remain in the wax. When smoked, these molecules will move into the lungs, causing harm. Some people who abuse marijuana wax have been found with lung conditions similar to “black lung.”
While there are no reports of the standard version of cannabis leading to overdose or death, marijuana wax has been known to put people in the hospital and killed at least one person. As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, cannabis typically induces a sense of calm, relaxation, and slowed time; high concentrations of THC found in marijuana wax have caused people to pass out almost immediately, which led to one man falling and hitting his head on the floor. He died from head trauma. There have been several reports of nonfatal overdoses as well.
Marijuana wax can cause serious problems for those who consume it, and even creating the drug is dangerous. THC labs are appearing all over the US, especially in western states, where cannabis laws have been relaxed. These labs are nearly as dangerous as meth labs because the process of creating wax involves explosive materials. Fires and explosions in THC labs have become so common that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) warned about potential explosions associated with these drug production facilities.
People who abuse marijuana regularly may struggle with addiction; however, the growing cultural popularity of cannabis has made the drug seem safer than it actually is. Like alcohol and tobacco, marijuana is addictive, and it can cause chronic health problems when abused. Unfortunately, people who struggle with addiction are likely to escalate their abuse of substances like cannabis, which may lead them to abuse concentrated forms, such as marijuana wax.