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Teens: Before You Dab, Get the Facts on Smoking Wax


What is Marijuana Wax?

Marijuana wax is a highly concentrated cannabis substance recognized by its dark amber color and thick, waxy consistency. While it contains THC concentrations up to a 90%, it is easy to conceal due to its small size and unsuspecting appearance. Marijuana wax is a popular alternative to marijuana flowers because it is stronger and requires smaller amounts for users to achieve a substantial “high”.

If you’re wondering: “What is smoking wax like?” It requires a specific dab rig and butane torch lighter to ignite the wax for inhalation. Marijuana wax can also be consumed through “dab pens,” small devices that function as vapes and are easy to conceal and transport.

How is Marijuana Wax Made?

THC wax is produced through butane extraction. Butane is used in a liquified form to release wax from the cannabis plant. Butane separates resin from THC from the rest of the plant. This extracts trichomes, which is the most potent part of the cannabis plant.  Then, butane must be removed from the wax through a heating and purging process.

If you’re wondering: How strong is wax?” It is much stronger than marijuana flower due to this extraction process.

After the wax has been washed, it will cool and harden into a consumable form. While there are some regulated marijuana wax producers, there are also unauthorized producers that create marijuana wax with no limitations on the product.

Who Uses Marijuana Wax?

Marijuana wax is one of the most popular forms of cannabis for users to consume. The main difference between wax and weed is that wax is much more concentrated. What parents need to know about wax is that due to the rapid increase in the availability of convenient and easily concealed products such as dab pens, marijuana wax is becoming more and more popular amongst all consumers.

It is estimated that 30 to 40 million people in the US will use marijuana products within the span of one year. Studies from 2017 show that there are over four million adults in the US struggling with a marijuana use disorder.  Most people who struggle with disordered marijuana consumption are between the ages of 12 and 25.

Wax Facts

Marijuana is the most commonly used and abused drug in the United States. In teenagers, marijuana comes a close third after alcohol and tobacco. In their 2017 survey Monitoring the Future, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) published a set of self-reported statistics from teenagers across the country. The report estimates that:

  • 1% of 8th graders smoke marijuana daily. 13.5% have tried it at least once. 10% have used it in the last year, and 5% have used it in the past month.
  • 3% of 10th graders smoke marijuana daily. 31% have tried it at least once. 25% have used it in the last year, and 16% have used it in the past month.
  • 6% of 12th graders smoke marijuana daily. 45% have tried it at least once. 37% have used it in the last year, and 23% have used it in the past month.

If you’re a high-school student, you can compare those statistics with what you know from personal experience and decide for yourself if the numbers line up with what you know and see every day, or if they’re way off-base. Suffice it to say that marijuana use is not uncommon, and over the past five years, a powerful form of marijuana extract – Butane Hash Oil (BHO) – has become one of the go-to ways of getting high. BHO is the most potent form of marijuana available, legally or illegally. In a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart gave this testimony:

“In 2013, the THC content of leaf marijuana averaged 14%, while the THC content of marijuana concentrates averaged 54%. Some samples reported as high as 99%. Highly flammable butane gas is used to extract the THC from the marijuana leaf, and has resulted in home explosions, injury, and deaths.”

Just so we’re clear, BHO is a marijuana concentrate. This means it’s much more powerful – roughly five times stronger – than marijuana in its typical “bud” or “leaf” form. Think of it this way: wax is to weed as crack is to cocaine and freebasing is to heroin. And like crack and freebasing, wax is more addictive and more harmful to your overall health than typical marijuana. People who use BHO call it “dabbing” because it only takes a small amount – a dab – to feel the euphoric effect. People who make BHO themselves call the process “blasting” and are known as “blasters.” BHO itself also has a ton of slang names. Depending on who you ask, BHO may be called any of the following:

  • Earwax
  • Wax
  • Honeycomb
  • Honey
  • Honey Oil
  • 710
  • Butter (or Budder)
  • Amber
  • Nectar
  • Black Glass
  • Shatter
  • Errl

Is Smoking Wax Bad For You?

Everything about BHO is dangerous. This is not regular pot. Dabbing is far riskier than smoking a joint, ingesting marijuana in edible form, or using something like a pipe or a bong. Experts think it’s popular with teenagers because it’s easy to conceal: it looks just like ear wax, which itself looks a lot like lip balm, making it no problem for a motivated individual to sneak it past just about any cursory search or backpack check.

So the next time a friend at school says “We’re blasting in my cousin’s garage Saturday. Come check it out,” or someone at a party takes you aside and whispers “Hey, we’re gonna go dab. You down?” please consider these facts:

  1. One small mistake in the extraction process – blasting – can cause a very large explosion. And yes, if you’re close to that explosion, it can kill you.
  2. One dose of wax is considered to be as powerful as several joints – all smoked at once.
  3. Emergency room reports include incidents of wax-induced psychosis – meaning wax is so strong it can cause hallucinations and psychotic episodes.
  4. Emergency room reports include hyperthermia (high body temperature), tachycardia (high heart rate), hypertension (high blood pressure), severe agitation, and neuro- and cardio-toxicity (potential brain and heart damage) in wax cases.

Side Effects Of Smoking Wax

That’s not all you need to think about. In a study conducted on over 800 college students, researchers found that using wax is linked to higher levels of:

  • Physical dependence
  • School and work problems
  • Risky behaviors

We’re thinking death, addiction, psychosis, and brain/heart damage might be enough to keep you away from wax. If you want a handy pdf about wax complete with pictures and more statistics, download this pamphlet published by the Department of Justice. And the next time someone at school says the word “dab,” remember: they’re probably not talking about Cam Newton’s famous touchdown celebration.

What Are The Signs of Marijuana Wax Addiction?

Marijuana wax addiction can display itself in a variety of different ways. One of the most common signs is a difficulty managing everyday responsibilities and tasks. This could appear as general lack of motivation or laziness but could be a sign of a greater issue.

Those struggling with marijuana wax addiction may have intense cravings that affect their ability to focus on other aspects of life. They may feel discomfort or frustration when unable to consume marijuana. They may also find themselves experiencing less joy from activities that they once loved.

Those struggling with marijuana wax addiction may also experience other general withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety and trouble sleeping, once marijuana wax consumption is stopped.

How Do You Treat Marijuana Wax Addiction?

Treating marijuana wax addiction generally involves learning coping skills through therapy.  As one goes through the withdrawal process, they must learn to resist their urges to consume marijuana and practice these coping skills instead. Those struggling with addiction may need to avoid social situations that could provide an opportunity for relapse.

Is smoking wax bad for you? Yes, because just like any other addiction, it takes great commitment and strength to recover from marijuana wax addiction. Wax for teens can cause serious problems. There is a physical and mental dependence that users must learn to break. With time, patience, guidance, and resilience, those struggling with addiction can take back their life and find joy outside of marijuana consumption.

Final Thoughts

Marijuana wax addiction should be taken just as seriously as any other substance dependency.  While marijuana may be a substance with greater social acceptance than other drugs, there are still many risks involved with smoking marijuana wax.

If you or your loved one is struggling with marijuana wax addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to our specialists for professional guidance.

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