The truth behind super-strength cannabis shatter

Recent reports in the UK have suggested that super-strength cannabis ‘glass’ is being sold to teenagers on social media platforms, and while there may be some truth to the claims, this super strength cannabis is actually no more dangerous than the regular flower form.

Cannabis shatter, as it’s commonly dubbed in North America, is a form of concentrated THC that is usually smoked in a vaporiser or as a ‘dab’.

As it is a concentrated form of cannabis, much less of it is needed to give the user the required effect. This is why outlets in the UK – many of whom know far less about cannabis than our friends over the pond – often tout super-strength cannabis as being dangerous while the truth remains: it’s impossible to overdose on cannabis regardless of its potency.

The Leaf Desk recently reported on Illinois’ decision to legalise cannabis for recreational use, with several of the top dispensaries selling out of cannabis concentrate products in the first day.

One benefit of consuming concentrates over cannabis flower is that it is discreet. Instead of smoking a huge joint that leaves a billow of smoke trailing behind, shatter is commonly consumed within a vape which leaves no trace at all.

Due to concentrates being vaped or dabbed, if the product has been extracted properly, it can actually be less harmful on the lungs than smoking traditional bud due to containing fewer carcinogens and needing a smaller amount.

Concentrates have also risen in popularity among the cannabis aficionados in the Americas, with the Cannabis Cup often showcasing a wide range of shatters and oils.

How is it made?

It may seem strange to see cannabis alter from a vibrant green flower to a translucent yellow piece of material, but the production of it is actually quite simple.

There are a few forms of cannabis concentrates, one of which is called Butane Hash Oil (BHO), this uses Butane as a solvent to release all the cannabinoids, terpenes and THC.

Cannabis flower is flushed with Butane in an extraction tube, concentrated THC then seeps out onto a glass dish where is it left to dry into shatter.

The production process should be confined to chemists in areas where cannabis is legal, as to use Butane can be dangerous to people who are untrained.

The process of burning off the Butane oil is not always 100 percent effective, which can lead to traces of it remaining in the oil being made, which users then obliviously inhale. Butane being inhaled in this manner can lead to brain impairment, increased heart rate and dizziness.

In extreme cases, inhaling large amounts of Butane can lead to death, which is why the manufacturing process is so dangerous and not advised to those who are not well-versed in the method.

Dangers of consuming

Cannabis shatter is no more dangerous than smoking cannabis flower itself. However, that does not mean that cannabis itself is totally devoid of negative side effects.

As previously reported by the Leaf Desk, cannabis poses a risk to those who may have any underlying mental health issues, in particular bipolar and schizophrenia.

It can also negatively impact young people who still have a developing brain, as reported in recent studies. This is why although cannabis shatter shouldn’t be particularly demonised, consumption of any cannabis product – especially at a young age – should come alongside health warnings.

Concentrates are most often the method of choice for seasoned cannabis users due to the fact that they are typically much more potent than normal bud. Concentrates mostly fall into a potency range of between 50 and 80 per cent THC, whereas bud is generally 10 to 25 per cent THC.

This can make opting for the right dose very difficult for less experienced users, increasing the chance of the user receiving negative effects if they take too large a dose. This is the reason why concentrates are not suitable for those without an education on the differing methods and dosage amounts.

Concern over citizens using concentrates in countries other than the United States is legitimate, due to the lack of legalisation and regulation in the respective areas meaning that cannabis is not liable for product testing, and can subsequently contain excess solvents and more poisonous additives.

However, concentrates purchased in states or countries with relevant laws mandate product testing on all cannabis forms, meaning that users are generally safe to ingest products in the knowledge that no toxic additives have been included in the manufacturing process.

CBD concentrates more effective

Contrary to popular belief, not all concentrates are filled with sky-high amounts of THC. CBD-rich concentrates are non-intoxicating, with no “high” effects and can be far more affective in delivering pain relief for those using medicinal cannabis to alleviate pain and inflammation.

As CBD concentrates are more potent than edibles or capsules, the user only needs to ingest a very small amount to achieve the required dosage, as well as to notice a much faster onset of pain relief than other commonly used methods due to the concentrates sending cannabinoids straight into the bloodstream.

While concentrates are certainly more potent than traditional bud, and if used incorrectly can result in experiencing uncomfortable effects such as feeling anxious or dizzy, high-THC concentrates are not a new phenomenon, as the commonly-known hash is also a concentrated resin derived from cannabis.

Hash is the shortened version of the word ‘hashish’, which originates from the Arabic language which translates to grass. It is thought to have originated around AD 900. However, it is suspected that it has been used for much longer than that, due to charas (handmade hash collected from the resin residue on the hands of cannabis farmers) being produced as a long-standing social tradition in North India and Nepal.

The first documentation using the term “hashish” was found in a pamphlet published in Cairo around 1123 CE, in which the Nizari Muslims where denounced as being “hashish-eaters”.

Originally Hashish contained high levels of CBD due to it being grown in Lebanon and Morocco, but the Western consumers’ desire for THC-rich hash has seen a shift in the market towards higher THC content.