As marijuana use continues to gain popularity across the U.S., with more states legalizing marijuana for either medical or recreational purposes, concentrated forms have also become more prevalent. Also referred to as cannabis or marijuana wax, dabs, honey oil, or butane honey oil (BHO), these various forms of concentrated marijuana are not edible but are intended to be smoked or vaporized.
The high concentration that is achieved through the manufacturing process results in a drug that is at least twice as powerful as the dried marijuana leaf. As a result, this form of marijuana can cause a high that is nearly instantaneous. Likewise, it can induce hallucinations and even overdose, a problem that does not usually occur with the use of traditional forms of marijuana.
What Is Marijuana Wax?
Wax is a highly-concentrated form of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive substance in cannabis. THC wax has 40-80% more THC per dose than dried forms. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA, 2013) found that THC concentrations in wax or oil measured around 54%. In years since, it is believed that the process has become refined and that there are even higher levels of THC present, which can, in some cases, lead to severe side effects. The DEA has reported that some samples of marijuana wax contain 99%, which is considered to be a dangerous level for most individuals.
Purported, one “hit” of wax, which is only about the size of the head of a pin, is about equal to 1-2 full joints, depending on the THC concentration. Comparatively, dried marijuana leaves that are rolled into joints or vaporized usually only contain 5-28% THC.
How Is Marijuana Wax Made?
Although there some states that govern recreational cannabis sales that provide professional services that make marijuana wax, in general, there are few regulations related to how concentrated THC wax can be. Producing hash oil, wax, or butter in such high concentrations usually involves butane, a flammable agent. Other solvents may also be used, but butane is among the most common and the most dangerous.
In the making of marijuana wax, butane or another solvent is filtered through a tube containing marijuana leaves, essentially stripping the THC from the leaves. The solvent is then burned off or allowed to evaporate, that this process leaves behind a sticky residue highly concentrated with THC.
Side Effects of Smoking Marijuana Wax
In today’s drug market, marijuana leaves that are dried and smoked are more potent themselves than those of just a few years ago. Growers have cultivated a number of strains over the decades that focus on specific chemicals, such as THC, so many varieties of marijuana, wax notwithstanding, already have high concentrations of THC. These can have a high potential for abuse and have been known to be associated with the development of mood disorders like anxiety or depression.
Because wax has a much higher concentration of THC than dried leaves, it is believed that it is even more addictive and may lead to more severe consequences related to its use. Moreover, while marijuana can induce psychoactive experiences and have an adverse effect on mood, marijuana wax use can intensify these experiences due to the higher concentration of THC in the product.
Side effects associated with smoking marijuana wax include the following:
- Increased anxiety
- Changes in sensory perception
- Impaired memory
- Panic attacks
- Auditory/visual hallucinations
- Temporary psychosis
- Elevated heart rate
- High blood pressure
People who have existing mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, can make these disorders worse when they ingest traditional marijuana. Wax use is believed to increase the adverse symptoms associated with these mental illnesses in both number and severity.
Because oil and wax are relatively new substances, many of the possible long-term side effects are not known. However, they are likely comparable to the side effects of smoking dried leaf marijuana but may be more harmful and intense. Addiction, withdrawal symptoms, and chronic health problems are all real risks of abusing marijuana wax.
Getting Help for Addiction
Although marijuana addiction may not be as severe as addiction to other substances, it can become very problematic nonetheless. And unlike marijuana of the past, modern high-potency forms of the drug are associated with withdrawal symptoms that may indicate a person has developed some level of dependency.
Like alcohol and tobacco, marijuana can cause chronic health problems when used in excessive amounts. People who struggle with an addiction to marijuana are likely to escalate their abuse, which may lead them to turn to the use of highly-concentrated forms, such as marijuana wax.
Just Believe Recovery offers comprehensive treatment programs in both residential and partial hospitalization formats that feature clinically-proven therapeutic services, such as psychotherapy, counseling, group support, aftercare planning, and more.
If you are struggling with an addiction to marijuana, other drugs, or alcohol, we urge you to contact us today and discover how we can help you break free from the cycle of substance abuse for life!