According to SAMHSA’s Short Report, “State Estimates of Adolescent Marijuana Use and Perceptions of Risk of Harm from Marijuana Use: 2013 and 2014,” in the 12 to 17 age group, approximately 1.8 million youth reported using marijuana in the past month.
The Drug Enforcement Agency describes marijuana concentrate as a substance containing highly potent THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of marijuana). This concentrate is often referred to as oil or “710” (“OIL” spelled upside down and backwards). THC levels in this oil could range from 40 to 80 percent, which is about four times stronger than what is found in a “high grade” marijuana plant.
Using marijuana concentrates is different from smoking marijuana in several ways:
- Oil is harder to detect. When marijuana is smoked it causes a distinctive smell. But when oil from the marijuana plant is extracted and concentrated, it is odorless, making it harder to detect, for example, in e-cigarettes or foods. Because of this particular characteristic, it could be harder for parents, teachers, and law enforcement to know when marijuana is being used.
“Vaping is much easier to conceal and it is harder to tell if kids are vaping and getting high,” said David Dickinson, M.A., SAMHSA’s Region 10 Administrator. “Teachers may not have a full awareness of what’s happening and THC overdose is a real concern.”
Street Names for Cannabis Extracts & Oils
- ■ Hash Oil
- ■ Butane Honey Oil (BHO)
- ■ Shatter
- ■ Dabs
- ■ Honeycomb
- ■ Honey Oil
- ■ Budder
- ■ Crumble
- ■ Sap
- ■ Ear Wax
- ■ Pull-and-Snap or Snap-and-Pull
- ■ Black Glass
- ■ Errl
- ■ 710 (“OIL” spelled upside down and backwards)
- Oil can be mixed into other products. Oil is also sometimes mixed with other drugs including alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and phencyclidine (PCP), creating an even stronger psychoactive response. It is also commonly added to sweet drinks and foods like brownies that appeal to youth, which can lead to high levels of exposure and can have toxic consequences when accidentally ingested.
“It’s not just smoking that concerns us, edibles and drinkables are also really popular with teens and young adults,” said Charles Smith, Ph.D., SAMHSA’s Region 8 Administrator. People eating a brownie containing marijuana, vaping the oil from an e-cigarette, or mixing it with other drugs may not fully realize the potency or effects until they are feeling unwell or even at a point of crisis from overdose.
There are other problems with marijuana use to consider as well:
- Additives and other chemicals may be toxic. According to Charles LoDico, MS, F-ABFT, a chemist in SAMHSA’s Division of Workplace Programs, marijuana concentrate can be extracted by using liquid butane, which is a highly flammable carcinogen. In many cases, trace butane remains and, when inhaled, can lead to long-term cognitive impairment and can affect nervous system functioning. And butane isn’t the only potential chemical exposure – pesticides used when growing the plant are also cause for concern.
The Need for More Research
Jon Perez, Ph.D., SAMHSA’s Region 9 Administrator, said “In the case of marijuana, the science lags behind policy and access. That means we do not yet have a full understanding of the health consequences of marijuana, hash concentrates, or what happens when it’s consumed through e-cigarettes.”
Douglas Tipperman, M.S.W., SAMHSA’s Tobacco Policy Liaison, noted that the record growth of smoke shops in recent years coincides with the emergence of the e-cigarette and the legalization of marijuana. He said, “While research is still needed to fully understand the health effects of e-cigarettes at the individual and population level, we also need to consider how marijuana concentrates in e-cigarettes may also pose additional significant health risks.”
Although more data are needed on the impact of marijuana concentrates, it is clear that in order to prevent use by youth, public education and awareness of the potential health risks are critical.
- Youth Marijuana Use: Consumption, Consequence, and Risk and Protective Factor Data Resources
- Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Youth Marijuana Use
- Strategies and Interventions to Prevent Youth Marijuana: An At-a-Glance Resource Tool
- Prevention Programs that Address Youth Marijuana Use
- SAMHSA: Cannabis
- ONDCP: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Marijuana