Law enforcement agencies around the country are reporting crackdowns on a new and potent form of marijuana called wax. The drug first appeared in California, but is rapidly spreading to other states. Named for its waxy consistency, wax marijuana is concentrated and powerful. Even experienced users of marijuana are impacted by the potency of this new formulation. And while it remains illegal and dangerous in most states, Colorado citizens over the age of 21 are free to use it. As with any dangerous new drug, parents of teens and young adults need to be aware of what wax is, how it is harmful and how to recognize it.
What Is Wax?
Wax is a brownish substance of concentrated THC. THC is the primary cannabinoid, or psychoactive substance, found in the cannabis plant. Typical marijuana is simply the dried buds of the plant. The user smokes or consumes these buds and gets a high from the THC and other cannabinoid compounds. Cannabis growers make wax by extracting THC from the leaves of the plants, which they would normally throw away. The result is a substance that is 10 to 20 times more potent than typical marijuana and can be 60 percent to 90 percent THC.
It takes just a small amount of wax for a user to get high, which means that it is a form of the drug that is easier to hide, to transport, and to use without being noticed. The high can be intense and long lasting, up to a day or more. While police in most states are trying to crack down on this drug, in Colorado, contests are being held to see who can make the most potent form of wax. The competition is called the X-Cup and it draws people from around the country.
Is Wax More Dangerous Than Smoking Pot?
Using wax is riskier than smoking marijuana. One danger is simply the greater potency. The resulting high is much more intense and can be especially problematic for inexperienced users. Law enforcement officers report finding people passed out from using wax and even in a state of psychosis or with permanent brain damage. In addition to the effects of concentrated THC, users run the risk of getting burned. To get high, users heat the wax to create hot oil and inhale the vapors. If not done carefully, this can cause burns on the body and in the mouth or lungs. The health risks of using wax are not the only risks. Making wax is also dangerous. The process involves using butane, which is highly flammable and explosive, to extract THC from cannabis leaves.
How Can You Recognize Wax?
If you are the parent of a young adult, you should be aware of this new craze. Look for a light brown colored wax, and be aware that it may be present in very small quantity and it is often kept in the refrigerator or freezer. You may also notice wax residue because it can be messy when used. Look for waxy or oily stains on carpet or clothing that resemble the mess a candle would make.
Wax is just the latest trend for young people looking to get high. People will always seek out a new high that is accessible, more potent, and easier to hide. When you are savvy about these new drugs, you can help protect your child. Educate your teen about the dangers of wax and keep your eyes open for signs that he might be using it.