Smoking THC-rich resins extracted from the marijuana plant is on the rise. People call this practice dabbing. They are using various forms of these extracts, such as:
- hash oil or honey oil—a gooey liquid
- wax or budder—a soft solid with a texture like lip balm
- shatter—a hard, amber-colored solid
These extracts can deliver extremely large amounts of THC to the body, and their use has sent some people to the emergency room. Another danger is in preparing these extracts, which usually involves butane (lighter fluid). A number of people have caused fires and explosions and have been seriously burned from using butane to make extracts at home.
A Rise in Marijuana’s THC Levels
The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily over the past few decades. For a person who is new to marijuana use, this may mean exposure to higher THC levels with a greater chance of a harmful reaction. Higher THC levels may explain the rise in emergency room visits involving marijuana use.
The popularity of edibles also increases the chance of harmful reactions. Edibles take longer to digest and produce a high. Therefore, people may consume more to feel the effects faster, leading to dangerous results.
Higher THC levels may mean a greater risk for addiction if people are regularly exposing themselves to high doses.
How Does Marijuana Affect a Person’s Life?
Compared to those who don’t use marijuana, those who use heavily more often report the following:
- lower life satisfaction
- poorer mental health
- poorer physical health
- more relationship problems
People also report less academic and career success. For example, marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school. It is also linked to more job absences, accidents, and injuries.
Points to Remember
Marijuana refers to the dried leaves, flowers, stems, and seeds from the hemp plant, Cannabis sativa.
The plant contains the mind-altering chemical delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and other related compounds.
People use marijuana by smoking, eating, drinking, and inhaling it.
Smoking THC-rich extracts from the marijuana plant (a practice called dabbing) is on the rise.
THC overactivates certain brain cell receptors, resulting in effects such as:
- altered senses
- changes in mood
- impaired body movement
- difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
- impaired memory and learning
Marijuana use may have a wide range of effects, both physical and mental, which include:
- breathing illnesses
- possible harm to a fetus’s brain in pregnant women
- hallucinations and paranoia
The amount of THC in marijuana has been increasing steadily, creating more harmful effects.
It’s unlikely that a person will fail a drug test or get a “contact high” from inhaling secondhand marijuana smoke.
A marijuana overdose doesn’t lead to death but can cause some very uncomfortable side effects, such as unease and shaking and, in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction.
Marijuana can lead to a substance use disorder, which takes the form of addiction in severe cases.
Treatment for marijuana addiction includes forms of behavioral therapy. No medications currently exist for treatment.
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.