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Hashish

Botanical name: Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica

Other common or street names: boom, gangster, hash, hemp. Marijuana concentrates are often referred to as 710, wax, ear wax, honey oil, budder, butane hash oil, butane honey oil (BHO), shatter, dabs (dabbing), black glass, and errl. Note: Street names change often and may vary regionally across the US. 

What is hashish (hash) and how is it used?

  • Hashish, often called hash, is a potent form of cannabis (marijuana) produced by collecting and compressing trichomes, the most potent material from cannabis plants.
  • Trichomes are the fine growths on cannabis plants that produce a sticky resin.
  • Marijuana is a green, brown or gray mixture of dried, shredded leaves, stems, seeds and flowers of the hemp plant Cannabis sativa.

Hashish contains essentially the same active ingredients found in marijuana, except in more form. Sinsemilla, Hashish and hash oil are stronger forms of marijuana. These products are THC concentrates and form as a dark brown, waxy substance or can be made into an oil.

Hashish or concentrates are usually smoked in a pipe or water pipe (bong) or "dabbed" using a special tool or vaporizer ("vape") pen. It may be rolled into a "blunt" (from an empty cigar) with marijuana or tobacco. It can be added to food or brewed in a tea, also.

Many abusers of marijuana concentrates prefer the use of a vaporizer because it's smokeless, odor-free and easy to carry and hide. Using an e-cigarette/vaporizer to ingest marijuana concentrates is commonly referred to as "dabbing" or "vaping."

Marijuana's effects on the user depend on the strength or potency of the THC it contains. Hashish contains the same active ingredients as marijuana, like THC and other cannabinoids, but with much higher concentrations. The concentrations can vary depending upon product.

THC extraction is becoming more popular as laws surrounding recreational use of marijuana have relaxed in the US. Marijuana concentrates contain very high levels of THC ranging from 40 to 80%, and may be 4 times stronger in THC content than marijuana, which may measure around 20% THC.

Butane is a commonly used solvent used to produce butane hash oil (BHO), also known as amber, dab, glass, honey, butter, shatter, or wax. Extraction is dangerous because it uses highly flammable butane to extract the THC from the marijuana plant material. Explosions and severe burns have occurred. 

What are the health effects of hashish use?

The short-term effects of hashish use include problems with memory and learning; distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch); difficulty in thinking and problem solving; loss of coordination; and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks. The effects may be more intense due to the high concentration of THC found in hash and other concentrates.

THC in marijuana is strongly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. Generally, traces of THC can be detected by standard urine testing methods several days after a smoking session. In heavy chronic users, traces can sometimes be detected for weeks after they have stopped using marijuana or its concentrates.

THC in hashish is many times more potent that the levels of THC found in standard marijuana. Levels of THC found in marijuana have skyrocketed over the last two decades. According to samples tested by the DEA, percentage of THC in marijuana has gone from roughly 4% in 1998 to over 15.5% in 2018.

The long term effects of hashish or marijuana concentrate use are not yet fully known; but, long-term marijuana plant-use has been studied.

  • Psychological effects can include paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, and hallucinations.
  • Alterations in heart rate and blood pressure may occur.
  • People who inhale THC products often have the same respiratory problems as cigarette smokers. These individuals may have daily cough and phlegm, symptoms of chronic bronchitis, and more frequent chest colds. They are prone to lung infections like pneumonia. Marijuana smoke may contain some of the same cancer-causing chemicals found in cigarette smoke (toxins and tar).
  • Marijuana and THC affects memory, judgment and perception. Learning and attention skills are impaired among people who use marijuana  heavily.

Studies show that marijuana use from a young age can affect brain development and IQ levels. 

Effects on pregnancy

Any drug of abuse can affect a mother's health during pregnancy.

  • Some studies have found that babies born to mothers who used marijuana (THC) during pregnancy were smaller than those born to mothers who did not use the drug. In general, smaller babies are more likely to develop health problems.
  • A nursing mother who uses marijuana passes some of the THC to the baby in her breast milk. Research indicates that the use of marijuana by a mother during the first month of breast-feeding can impair the infant's motor development.

Addictive potential

A drug is addicting if it causes compulsive, uncontrollable drug craving, seeking, and use, even in the face of negative health and social consequences.

While not everyone who uses marijuana or hashish(THC) becomes addicted, when a user begins to seek out and take the drug compulsively, that person is said to be dependent or addicted to the drug.

Some frequent, heavy users of marijuana (THC) develop a tolerance for it. Tolerance means that the user needs larger doses of the drug to get the same desired results that they used to get from smaller amounts.

Long-term marijuana users may also experience withdrawal and addiction problems. Mild withdrawal symptoms that have been reported in those trying to quit include:

  • irritability
  • trouble sleeping
  • decreased appetite
  • anxiety
  • cravings

No medicines are available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support can be effective. Speak with your doctor if you are seeking treatment for marijuana use disorder.

Hashish use trends

After alcohol, marijuana (THC) is the most commonly used psychotropic drug in the US.

In the U.S. in 2018, marijuana use estimates were most prevalent in the age group 18 to 25 years at over 34% of those surveyed. The NIDA, from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports on drug use, including marijuana / hashish in the group surveyed in the previous year. Most use is trending upward or remaining stables in the various age groups.

Vaping devices have grown in popularity. Nearly 4% of 12th graders saying they vape THC daily. In addition, the number of young people who believe regular marijuana use is risky is decreasing.

NSDUH Trends in Prevalence of Marijuana/ Hashish Use: 2016-2018 

Age range 2018 2017 2016
Ages 12 years and older 15.9% 15% 13.9%
Ages 12 to 17 years 12.5% 12.4% 12%
Ages 18 to 25 years 34.8% 34.9% 33%
Ages 26 years and older 13.3% 12.2% 11%

In 2018, more than 11.8 million young adults used marijuana in the past year. According to another survey, called the Monitoring the Future survey, rates of past year marijuana use among middle and high school students have remained steady, but the number of teens in 8th and 10th grades who say they use it daily has increased.

Recreational use of cannabis (marijuana)

As of Nov. 3, 2020, the states or districts where recreational use of marijuana (THC) or marijuana products are legal are:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont (allows marijuana possession, growing and consumption; retail sales approved but not yet active pending subsequent legislation)
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C. (allowing marijuana possession, growing and consumption; the sale of marijuana for recreational purposes remains illegal; there are seven medical dispensaries)

It is important to note that the federal government still considers marijuana a dangerous drug and that the illegal distribution and sale of marijuana (including hashish) is a federal crime. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug. 

Cities, municipalities, employers, landlords, and universities may have special policies about the use of marijuana or marijuana products. Use within any federal land, national park or monument is illegal. Be sure to check all rules before use, especially in areas that may be under federal law. 

Nonetheless, recreational and medical marijuana are lucrative.

  • According to Statista, medical marijuana retail sales reached $5.2 billion in 2019, with sales projected to reach $8.4 billion in 2023.
  • In 2019, retail sales of recreational marijuana exceeded $8 billion, and are expected to exceed $34 billion by 2023.

For more information on the legalization of Medical Marijuana see: Marijuana

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.