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Editorial Policy | Research Policy
From vaporizers to moon rocks, there always seems to be a groundbreaking innovation in the world of marijuana every few years. Cannabis enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the next best method of ingestion. Whether this sort of passion should be deemed ingenious or a waste of energy is mostly up to personal interpretation. But, there is no denying how far the market has come in such a short time period. To their credit, the devotees seem to be doing something right.
That something appears be perfecting the plant they love. The term “concentrate” refers to an overarching and relatively new subset of marijuana products. Over the last few decades, these offshoots have exploded in popularity. Just about everyone in the United States, for example, has heard of dabbing, but they might not know the commercialized hype is in reference to cannabis. As marijuana is gaining legal footing across the country, so too has the concentrate craze. There is no doubt that the trend will continue. This isn’t some passing fad like the dance move is sure to be. Concentrates, including shatter, are here to stay because they have utility — and are superior to all other means of smoking the drug.
Shatter is the purest and most potent form of marijuana currently in existence. Given the abovementioned resolve of smokers, though, that might not be the case for much longer. In the meantime, however, shatter satisfies the needs of the most diehard cannabis aficionados whom it is truly meant for. This is because of the levels of THC — the compound responsible for the euphoric feeling — are at their highest in shatter. THC concentrations can be upward of 80 to 90 percent. To put that into perspective, a typical marijuana bud from the plant’s flower has THC amounts at closer to 15 percent. As such, experts contend that these extracts are not intended for novice smokers.
Shatter is created by isolating the chemical ingredients from cannabis. The procedure requires a solvent, butane in the case of shatter, to extract the compounds into an oil. From here, the remaining steps determine whether the final concentrate will be wax, budder, crumble, or shatter.
Aesthetically, shatter looks like the byproduct of a beehive. It comes as a thin, amber sheet that is easily breakable. Hence the name. The oil goes through an extra filtration technique to remove fats and waxes, leading to a translucent appearance. This process also filters out terpenes, which give cannabis its characteristic aroma. The color, form, flavor, scent, and virtually every other feature is different than what most people recognize as marijuana.
Even with the immense concentration of THC, the possibility of an overdose is nonexistent. However, over-consumption can lead to short-term distress. Hallucinations. Paranoia. Psychosis. Becoming detached from real life. No, this isn’t referring to MDMA, LSD, magic mushrooms, or even methamphetamine symptoms. Believe it or not, these are potential side effects of cannabis use or, more specifically, use of marijuana extracts. In actuality, these effects are rarely seen in individuals without a history of mental health problems.
Whenever shatter makes its way into the headlines, the stories usually share a similar thread. Amateur concentrate connoisseurs will attempt to create shatter in their own homes. The result can be massive explosions due to dangerous quantities of butane gas. Colorado had approximately 30 such incidences in 2014 alone. These occurrences have not helped the already shaky public image of cannabis extracts. Opponents of the practice will often conjure up comparisons to meth labs and other illicit manufacturing methods.
Shatter. The name has a jarring quality. It implies destruction or ruin; the suggestion of shattered lives after using the drug. Crumbling finances, relationships, careers, and more left in pieces like shatter itself. Undoubtedly, this is an added piece of rhetoric ammo to be used against the drug — the irony of which is not lost on its supporters.
Concentrations have an endless list of monikers: wax, earwax, budder, honeycomb, crumble, and BHO (butane hash oil) among others. A dab can refer to the amount of shatter being smoked, while dabbing designates the action itself.
This smoking arrangement is chock-full of jargon all its own. The glass vessel being used may look like a bong, but it is actually an oil rig. Once it turns red hot, a metallic or glass “nail” ignites and vaporizes the dab for inhalation. Overall, the routine appears complicated and resembles methamphetamine use more than it does traditional marijuana smoking. This is yet another point of contention and image crisis facing a practice that is craving credibility.
Recreational cannabis use is a constantly evolving beast. All an outside observer can hope to do is attempt to keep track of the newest obsession. Such advancements are sure to come. After all, there is still ten percent of THC concentration being left on the table. There will almost certainly be a day when the full extent of cannabis is realized. Though there is no way to guess as to what problems if any, that day will bring. It may be hyperbole to say that shatter can fragment a life outright, but, if any cracks are beginning to show, there are always resources available to get the help needed.
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The Recovery Village at Palmer Lake aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.
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