Can you eat marijuana wax?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, “Can You eat marijuana wax?”. We will also elaborate on what are the possible uses of marijuana wax and the risks of consuming marijuana wax.

Can you eat marijuana wax?

Yes, you can eat the marijuana wax. The method of consuming marijuana wax could vary like it can be consumed in the form of toppings, dabbings, and vaporizers.

Marijuana wax:

Marijuana wax is derived from marijuana. It is also known as honey oil, budder, shatter, and Butane hash oil (BHO) because of its appearance like honey or butter. 

BHO is produced using liquid butane to extract high levels of THC from dried cannabis; the resulting product contains both butane and terpene byproducts. The extraction process yields a waxy substance that is then heated, vaporized and subsequently inhaled (1). 

Numerous extraction processes have been developed with the purpose of recovering and concentrating cannabis compounds. In butane extraction (or BHO extraction), fuel-grade butane is sprayed through a column containing cannabis. A filter prevents plant material from passing into a secondary collection column that captures the cannabinoid-rich butane mixture. The mixture is placed in a vacuum oven to purge the solvent residue, leaving behind a golden coloured oil that typically contains 80% THC (2).

The wax has a larger content of (THC) Tetrahydrocannabinol distillate as compared to cannabis, which is a chemical that affects the brain, for instance, it causes psychological retardation. THC is psychoactive, and is often used to manage pain, anxiety, nausea, and insomnia (2).

It can be eaten in the form of electronic cigarettes and used as a drug in the form of round balls. Teenagers use it in the form of lip balm under the eyelid.

Composition:

Marijuana wax is made up of cannabis and alcohol. Extraction of oils from marijuana is carried out by specific methods for different alcohols. There are two methods of production for marijuana wax: 

  1. Butane hash oil (BHO)
  2. Isopropyl

In Canada, extract is achieved through one of two ways: solvent extraction using ethanol, or supercritical fluid extraction using carbon dioxide (CO2). In the United States, butane extractions are a more popular option due to their high yields (2).

Butane hash oil (BHO):

To produce BHO, the dried cannabis is packed into an open-terminal tube where one terminal is enveloped by a filter, i.e., a coffee envelope or filter,  and the other terminal of the tube is kept closed. 

Butane is inserted to draw out oil from plant material. The mixture is drained into a cylinder and heated at high temperatures until the wax is produced.

The butane dissolves the trichomes as it passes through the tube, removing the hydrophobic psychoactive compounds from the plant material. The liquid butane extract passes through the filtered end of the tube, leaving a solid waste-product in the tube that is discarded. Then, butane is separated from the product. Heating plates, vacuum ovens, shaker plates, spatulas, and other devices may be used (3).

Isopropyl:

In the method, the cannabis is first impregnated in the alcohol for a long time before being drained into a cylinder. The liquid from the impregnated mixture is then warmed at a very high temperature till most of the alcohol is evaporated and wax is formed. 

Many organic solvents such as alcohol, propane, or butane are used to extract trichomes from the cannabis. The extraction allows pigments such as chlorophylls and other contaminants to be extracted along with the terpenes, resulting in a dark green color extract. After extraction, the solvent is then removed by evaporation either by direct heat or under a vacuum, resulting in the oil product with high viscosity (4).

The issue with marijuana wax production is that many people are attempting to create it at home. 

Because of the high temperatures needed to mix marijuana with isopropyl alcohol solutions and butane, and due to the volatile nature of using a liquid-gas such as butane in an illegal extraction process, BHO production is inherently unsafe and has the potential to yield catastrophic results, there is a significant fear factor of fire, which could result in the destruction of physical personal injury, or death and also with the damage of property (3).

Many states have proposed strong rules to control the rising problem as the popularity of manufacturing marijuana wax at home has grown.

Ways of consumption

Consumption of marijuana wax directly is not so common; while making or preparing edibles by using marijuana wax is more common.

Some of the ways for consuming marijuana wax are as follows:

Toppings

An easy way to consume marijuana wax is by topping it on the packed bowl of flowers when using a bong. Just ensure to not light and burn it at the first shot. 

In addition, marijuana wax can also be topped over the joint or blunt. 

Dabbing

The most prevalent method to consume marijuana wax is by dabbing. It is quite an easy method where you set the concentrate on a heated container and inbreathe the vapors. 

Special equipment called a dab rig is used for this purpose. It is a water pipe that has a flat bowl or a nail. The nail is made from a substance that can resist higher temperatures without contracting, unlike glass containers that are utilized in bongs to smoke flowers.

To place the concentrate on the piping hot nail, a dab spoon is used. Next, the nail is heated with a lighter. As soon as the heated nail is prepared, the marijuana wax is scooped out with a dab spoon, and placed on it. It will evaporate, and this is the time to inbreathe it in from the opposite side, called a mouthpiece. 

Alternatively, BHO can be administered using electronic heating devices akin to those used as e-cigarettes. With the exception of the dangers associated with blowtorch usage, the result is the same; a heated surface vaporizes the product which is then inhaled by the consumer (3).

Symptoms of being high on marijuana wax:

There are some symptoms of being high on marijuana wax:

  • Symptoms of psychosis
  • Hallucinations
  • Issues with short-term memory
  • Increased heart rate
  • Paranoia
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Panic
  • Lowered inhibitions

The risks of marijuana wax

Multiple studies have reported psychoses, cardiotoxicity and respiratory failure following dab usage. High doses of cannabinoids can be associated with a variety of health risks, such as increased risk of myocardial infarction in those with cardiovascular disease and chronic cognitive impairment (3). Consumption of marijuana wax can lead to the following symptoms:

  • Impaired motor skills
  • Decreased sexual capacity
  • Lack of concentration
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Poor judgment
  • Personality and mood shifts
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Sensory distortion

The high potency of marijuana wax highly increases the risk of:

  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Painful withdrawal symptoms
  • Paranoia
  • Intense psychological symptoms

There is no thorough burning of butane during the production of wax which has various health risks like:

  • Permanent impairment of the brain and central nervous system
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of consciousness

Recently, research presented that the consumption of marijuana wax led to an unattainable loss of brain function. 

For instance, in one case, a young high school boy got unconscious after taking marijuana wax and when he woke up 75 per cent of his intellectual abilities were disrupted.

By dabbing, the temperature of the wax can reach approximately 978°F and at this temperature, high levels of terpene, which are aromatic oils found in cannabis, degrade into various byproducts; of most importance are the noxious irritants Methacrolein and Benzene; both known carcinogens. Methacrolein has been shown to be structurally similar to Acrolein, a powerful pulmonary irritant and carcinogen. As a result of BHO inhalation, lung injury can be developed with symptoms similar to pneumonia (1).

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat marijuana wax?”. We have also elaborated on what are the possible uses of marijuana wax and the risks of consuming marijuana wax.

References

  1. Anderson, Ryan P., and Katie Zechar. Lung injury from inhaling butane hash oil mimics pneumonia. Respir med case rep, 2019, 26, 171-173.
  2. Blake, Alexia, and Istok Nahtigal. The evolving landscape of cannabis edibles. Curr Op Food Sci, 2019, 28, 25-31.
  3. Al-Zouabi, Ihsan, et al. Butane hash oil and dabbing: insights into use, amateur production techniques, and potential harm mitigation. Subst abuse rehab, 2018, 9, 91.
  4. Sommano SR, Chittasupho C, Ruksiriwanich W, Jantrawut P. The Cannabis Terpenes. Molecules, 2020, 25, 5792.