Substance Use

The Potential Dangers of Highly-Concentrated Marijuana Wax

TABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents

marijuana wax in jar with buds

Concentrated forms of marijuana wax (also known as dabs, honey, THC wax, butane hash oil (BHO), live resin, and cannabis wax) are most commonly smoked in vape pen cartridges, or “carts.” Smoking these waxes or dabs can present some marijuana dangers if manufactured recklessly or not used properly. 

Owing to its highly concentrated nature (sometimes triple the strength of dried marijuana leaves), there can be serious problems for smokers who may not realize how strong it is, and overdoses can occur with various negative side effects.

It takes bravery and strength to ask for help with addiction. Whether you find yourself or a loved one using THC wax, seek help right away. Zinnia Healing can provide a full continuum of care that is tailored to each person’s unique needs. Medically supervised detox, group, individual/family therapy, partial hospitalization, outpatient programs, aftercare, and sober living can all be addressed with Zinnia Healing’s recovery programs.  

What Is Marijuana Wax?

The highly concentrated cannabis extract known as marijuana wax is named for its thick, sticky consistency and dark amber color. With THC concentrations up to 90%, wax or “dab” is small and easy to conceal, and it is, therefore, an attractive alternative to marijuana flowers, buds, or joints. 

How Is Marijuana Wax Made?

THC wax can be produced “solvent-free” but is most commonly produced with butane extraction. For safe wax production, reputable manufacturers use specially closed equipment to prevent explosions because butane is so highly flammable. Butane is normally a gas, but it is used in a liquified form to release the wax from the cannabis plant.

The marijuana plant is packed into tubes and “washed” with the liquid butane. The butane will separate the “trichomes” of resin from the rest of the plant. The trichomes are where most cannabinoids and terpenes are located. Next, there are several necessary steps to removing the dangerous butane from the plant material. This process uses heat, condensation, and vacuum purging. These last steps are often skipped or not done correctly in home labs, and toxic butane can be left in the resin or wax, creating the potential for marijuana dangers.

Once the washed plant material cools and hardens, it is sometimes processed further by stirring or whipping into forms called sugar, crumble, or “budder.”

Unfortunately, littered among the well-made marijuana products available for medical and recreational use, there are many unregulated waxes that do not have limits on THC concentration or the methods used to create the product. There are also unscrupulous manufacturers who may create waxes that are made from unusable waste products left behind from making other cannabis products. 

What Are The Potential Dangers of Concentrated Marijuana Wax?

Marijuana wax, when vaporized, may deliver significant amounts of toxic “degradation” product into the lungs. Chemicals like benzene and methacrolein may be given off when vaping with e-cigarettes or smoking wax through glass pipes or cartridge pens, especially when heated by temperatures that are too high. Given the widespread and increasing likelihood of full legalization of recreational cannabis across the United States, these potentially harmful toxins and other marijuana dangers from concentrates like wax must be the focus of future research.  

Since marijuana wax “dabs” are made from marijuana oils and other THC concentrates, many people believe smoking dabs or wax is the same as smoking dried leaves. This is not the case. 

The dangers inherent in wax manufacturing include the possibility of molecules of dangerous butane being present in the wax. Smoking wax and inhaling that butane can cause lung damage. Heating marijuana wax to high temperatures releases up to 75% of THC, compared to 5-20% THC in traditional methods of smoking cannabis. At 978 degrees Fahrenheit, these heated terpenes degrade into methacrolein and benzene. 

Methacrolein is structurally similar to acrolein, a pulmonary irritant, which causes acute lung injury and pulmonary edema in laboratory animals. Scientists theorize that the relatively new practice of inhaling these irritants given off by heating marijuana wax at overly high temperatures can injure lungs and even mimic pneumonia in some cases. 

Who Uses Marijuana Wax?

Although we don’t have specific statistics on marijuana wax, we can look at marijuana use statistics to illustrate that the use of marijuana (and subsequently the potential for marijuana dangers) is much more widespread than you might imagine:

  • 30 to 40 million people in the United States will use marijuana in a year.
  • Over 40% of adults in the U.S. have smoked marijuana in their lifetime.
  • The most recent data from 2017 showed that over four million adults in the U.S. (over the age of 12) were in fact suffering from a marijuana use disorder.
  • Most of the people with this disorder are between 12 and 25 years old.
  • In the early 1990s, dried marijuana leaves in joints contained around 4% THC. In 2017, an average joint contained around 12-30% THC. Dabs and wax can contain THC concentrates of 80% or more. This illustrates the potential dangers inherent in smoking or “dabbing” marijuana wax.

What Are the Short-Term Marijuana Dangers of Smoking Wax?

Smoking marijuana can be addictive and have unpleasant side effects. The higher concentration of THC in wax can exacerbate these side effects in some people including:

  • Increased anxiety
  • Changes in sensory perception
  • Poor memory
  • Paranoia or panic attacks
  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Breaks with reality or temporary psychosis, (serious enough to require hospitalization)
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • An itchy sensation called “formication” or the feeling that one has insects on or under the skin

What Are The Long-Term Dangers of Smoking Marijuana Wax?

There are numerous marijuana dangers to people who use wax over long periods of time, such as:

  • Physical and psychological dependence.
  • Problems with relationships, school, and work.
  • Wax-induced psychosis–hallucinations and psychotic breaks.
  • Severe agitation.
  • Neuro- and cardio-toxicity (potential brain and heart damage).

What Does Marijuana Wax Addiction Look Like?

Some potential signs of THC wax-related substance use disorder include:

  • Difficulty managing your duties at work, school, or around the house.
  • Intense cravings can invade your thoughts and affect your ability to concentrate on other things.
  • Feelings of discomfort if you can’t access the drug.
  • Relationships may degrade with family and loved ones.
  • Unable to enjoy activities you used to enjoy.
  • Feeling the need for more wax to achieve the same effect.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, agitation, trouble sleeping) when you stop using marijuana wax.

How Do You Treat Marijuana Wax Addiction?

Addiction is so much more than a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol. Treatment for dangerous marijuana wax addiction must include learning coping skills through therapy with skilled professionals. Once you have eliminated the substance from your body, you will need time, talk, and tools to overcome that physical and mental dependence.

So many social activities, friends, and family units have inherent triggers that can push you into relapsing back into drug, alcohol, or other substance use. If you commit and take time to recover in a protected setting like Zinnia Healing, you will gain the strength, knowledge, and tools necessary to deal with all the stressors in your life without using substances like THC wax.

How Can Zinnia Healing Help People Who Have Marijuana Use Disorders?

Zinnia Healing offers partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient, and outpatient treatment services. However, the first step in any recovery process is reaching out for treatment. Whether starting with inpatient detox or outpatient detox, your treatment begins by asking for help.

It only takes a simple phone call to (855) 430-9439, a message through our website or a Facebook message to begin admission. This process can definitely be overwhelming. At Zinnia Healing, we understand how hard this step can be, so we work hard to make the process as comforting and straightforward as possible. It’s helpful to gather all your current and previous health information before calling us. The following is our process and the steps necessary to join us at Zinnia Healing.

  1. Pre-Admissions Process
    • Zinnia Healing staff will ask about a person’s drug and alcohol history and current situation
    • Other medical conditions will be disclosed and discussed
    • The list of doctors a person is seeing will be gathered
    • Discuss prior treatment history (if any)
  2. Next, a Zinnia Healing staff member will discuss programs at our facility to see if there is a suitable match for your needs
  3. Should Zinnia Healing be a good fit, insurance information will be discussed. If you don’t have insurance, there may be private self-pay options or even possible scholarships. There may be a waiting list, or we may be able to take you in right away.
  4. Admission: Immediately after arriving at the recovery facility, each person undergoes a comprehensive health assessment. Addiction professionals will discuss a person’s substance use history, relevant mental and physical health conditions, and family life. Then, you will be provided with our policies and rules.
  5. Treatment Length: the length of treatment varies greatly depending upon the substance used, the length of time using, and the presence of co-occurring disorders like depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses.

How Can Zinnia Healing Help Me?

Zinnia Healing is an industry leader in substance use treatment care. We adhere to the highest standards and use cutting-edge research findings in all of our methodologies and levels of care including:

  • Detox        
  • Inpatient care        
  • Outpatient care        
  • Partial hospitalization        
  • Individual, group, family, and nature therapy 

Types of Therapy Offered at Zinnia Healing

Group Therapy

Our intensive group therapy sessions offer the opportunity for:

  • Psychoeducational groups (education about substance use)
  • Skills developmental groups (learn the tools you’ll need to break free from addiction)
  • Cognitive-behavioral groups (rearrange patterns of thinking that lead to addiction)
  • Support groups (a forum where members can supportively challenge each other to debunk “excuses”)
  • Interpersonal process group (members help each other process the relational and other life issues that were previously escaped through addictive substances)

Family Therapy

We offer family therapy work to include:   

  • Family engagement (begins the conversation and involves family and the individual in the recovery process)
  • Relational reframing (rather than placing all the blame of addiction on the child, family therapy will emphasize the root causes of the addiction and move the source of some issues from internal to external)
  • Family behavioral change (enabling communication, rules, and limits; with room to express how everyone is feeling)
  • Family restructuring (this process can help break down barriers and establish an environment that encourages open communication)      

Nature Therapy

Our unique, holistic approach includes nature therapy (also called green or eco therapy):

  • Nature meditation
  • Horticultural therapy (gardening and plant care)
  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Physical exercise outdoors (yoga, hiking, etc.)
  • Conservation (taking action to help preserve nature)

What Steps Can You Take Right Now?

The desire to stop using drugs or alcohol is essential to begin a lifelong recovery path. Reach out to our staff at Zinnia Healing to get information on the wide spectrum of programs and resources we offer to help people with substance use issues.

Please visit our website to learn more about our programs and the treatment options available, and take a look at our tranquil facilities where you can find refuge from the stresses and triggers of the everyday world in order to work on self-care, rest, therapy, and taking back control of your life.

  1. In most cases, if a person has a substance use disorder, recovery begins at the detox stage. Medical monitoring of this stage reduces the risks to mental and physical well-being.
  2. Following medical detox, Zinnia Healing’s treatment options include inpatient rehab in a residential treatment program, outpatient rehab, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs (IOP), and sober living homes.
  3. The intensity of these treatment program options ranges significantly, from outpatient counseling to intensive inpatient therapy.

Conclusion

Zinnia Healing focuses on proven treatment paths that include detox and stabilization, residential/outpatient/partial hospitalization options, holistic and family approaches, and unique LGBTQ+ program tracks. Please call, message, or email us today to begin freeing yourself from the prison of addiction.