It's potent, and if not extracted with safety, could cause explosions.

A highly potent form of marijuana is fast catching up in India but its side-effects are unknownBy Stephen Charles Thompson (anon_lynx) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Features Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 19:12

Hashish or hash is a rage amongst youngsters worldwide. Forget the regular weed you score from your neighbourhood peddler – hash is now an international sensation. Today, Cannabis Indica is grown across the Indian subcontinent and South Asia, and it’s this plant that is processed to make hash, which is distributed in the form of a clay-like substance. Today however, another form of hash is quickly catching on, and it is called hash oil.

The reason for its increasing popularity is obvious – it is a lot more potent than hash or weed. Hash oil is extracted from cannabis, most of which is contained in the seed. The THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance responsible for cannabis high) content in it is highly concentrated, providing a quicker and more robust high. In fact, its physical properties allow one to inhale, eat, smoke, vape, as well as rub it on the body to soothe pain.

Hash oil has become a craze in countries like the United States, but it is also a rising cause of home combustions and illegal extraction. Its side effects are also not as well understood yet and no one can vouch for its safety.

Legal extraction of weed oil, for medical purposes or in places where its recreational use is legal, is done with several safety precautions. A solvent such as carbon dioxide or ethanol is used to extract the oil from the plant, using proper machinery in a controlled environment.

But when done illegally, with constraints of cost and privacy, it can be dangerous. Carbon dioxide is sometimes replaced with the much cheaper (and combustible) butane and the controlled environment becomes a dangerous tinderbox.

In a video feature entitled 'weediquette' uploaded on Vice, a stoner says, “It was basically just idiots not knowing what they’re playing with. They would take a bunch of weed. And then they would take a bunch of butane, put it into a big fat dish, and throw it on the stove. And yeah, you’d blow out your f***ing house real fast”. News channels across the United States churn out frequent reports concerning such home-laboratory fires.

Besides safety during preparation of the mixture, there have been concerns raised on its consumption too. It is so heavily concentrated, that one may often end up smoking (or dabbing or eating) more than they’d want to. Maureen Dowd, an op-ed columnist at The New York Time recalls her experience with a little too many weed candies - “I felt a scary shudder go through my body and brain. I barely made it from the desk to the bed, where I lay curled up in a hallucinatory state for the next eight hours. I was thirsty but couldn’t move to get water.” Oil too could create such an effect, especially since first timers might not know how much is too much, with such a high level of concentration. Yet hash oil is gaining popularity for its powerful high.

It is fast catching up in India. Laxman Sriram (name changed), an Indian student, says, “Hash oil is certainly a different experience from the regular maal (hash) we get. Because, regular maal gives a head high and this gives a body high. You want to do things rather than just sit. But it’s pretty heavy on the lungs.” He says that if you know the right people, you can get it easily in India.

Hash oil and its impact on the human body has not been understood properly yet. But as the drug becomes more popular, more cases of its abuse could emerge. So if you are planning to get a taste of weed oil, be careful, or stay away from it altogether.

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