Now that marijuana use is becoming legalized all across the country, America’s teenagers are reaping the consequences. True, there is nothing new under the sun with teenagers using drugs, particularly marijuana, but the situation is different than how it was back in the 60s and 70s. Now, marijuana is no longer a “gateway” drug; rather, it is the “end” choice.
What is marijuana wax?
Marijuana wax is a concentrated form of marijuana (cannabis) that resembles ear wax. It contains 90% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in cannabis). One small “hit” of wax causes the same euphoric effect as that created by smoking 1-2 marijuana cigarettes (joints).
Teenagers typically use wax via a vape pen. This tool extracts the THC rather than burning it, so the drug is basically odorless and smokeless. Teenagers can use wax with a vape pen without any obvious detection, and the tool can be easily concealed. This is very alarming because teenagers can use wax basically under the noses of their authority figures.
Many teenagers have discovered that using wax brings many “benefits”:
- Allows self-medication for anxiety and depression
- Is easy to use without detection
- Helps teenagers forget about their problems
- Eliminates boredom
The unfortunate result is that as many teenagers are developing independence and learning how to navigate life, the marijuana user is learning to cope with their problems by avoidance or “numbing out”. This creates a lack of creativity and motivation. These youth are not experiencing the exuberance of life, but are developing an “I don’t care” attitude. This is alarming at best; mainly it is devastating.
The effects of wax and other forms of marijuana
The short-term effects of using wax include attention and memory problems, distorted perception, poor judgment, and poor coordination.
Along with the short-term issues, there are also long-term psychological and health concerns involved with the use of wax. Regular use of marijuana can cause:
- An onset or worsening of mental health issues. These might include psychosis, depression, anxiety, anger control problems, mood disorders, sleep disturbance, or even suicidal ideation.
- Addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include nausea, cold sweats, lack of appetite, sleeplessness, and irritability.
- Chronic lung problems, including bronchitis and lingering cough.
- A permanent decrease in IQ.
- Lower quality of life overall, including lower income level, academic issues, and poorer performance in work.
Barriers to treatment for marijuana abuse
Speaking as a substance abuse counselor who works with teenagers who use cannabis, treatment is often challenging. Usually when teenagers seek counseling for their substance use, it is because some adult authority figure or institution has demanded it. Court- or school-mandated substance use treatment brings an additional set of problems.
Addressing the underlying “want” is the best approach to treatment. It is also the most difficult. Ask yourself, why does my teenager not want to feel? Why do they not care about themself? What is the underlying motivation of this youth?For one thing, effective counseling requires the “counselee” to be motivated to change. People coerced into treatment are not internally motivated. External motivation often causes people to resist. This is even more likely for rebellious teenagers, determined to set their own terms and define their own choices. One of the jobs of the counselor is to figure out how to overcome this dynamic, “win” the youth over, and help break through the teen’s resistance.
Another problem faced by concerned adults is the social acceptability of marijuana. Since so many adults are using the drug themselves, to the point that many states have made it a legal substance, there is a trickle-down effect on the youth in our society. Oftentimes I hear teens say things like, “It helps me with my anxiety. It’s only an herb; a natural plant created by God that helps me feel good.” These are the same arguments adults use.
In addition to this, I have made the observation that marijuana no longer seems to be a gateway drug as it was in the past. Rather, it is the drug of choice for the majority of drug-using teenagers, far surpassing even the use of cigarettes. Alarmingly, about half of all teenagers, particularly in states which have legalized marijuana, have tried the substance some time during their high school years.
How is wax different from other concentrates?
The marijuana concentrate family is extensive and includes shatter, wax, resin, rosin, sugar, sauce, hash, and oil. All concentrates are extracts that have been processed to concentrate the plant’s potency, delivering a more intense experience than straight-up dried marijuana buds.
What differentiates marijuana concentrates are the texture and viscosity of the product. Marijuana wax is opaque and malleable, while shatter is glossy, brittle, and translucent. However, the potency, aroma, and flavor profiles of waxes can be identical to shatter or oil. The consistency of wax isn’t necessarily an indicator of flavor or THC levels.
Variations in post-extraction processing lead to these different consistencies. Wax is formed by whipping. Aggressive whipping leads to crumble, and a short whip lends itself to a creamy budder. Wax boasts a clear advantage over other concentrates: it’s easy to use, rendering dosing and smoking easy for novices.
Wax vape pens
Vaping wax is comparable to vaping flower. While vaping requires higher temperatures than should be used for flower, experts recommend avoiding overheating. Hotter temperatures tend to produce vapors that taste a little harsh, while lower temperatures deliver gentle clouds of vapor with purer, smoother flavors.
To vape wax, drop a small dollop of wax into the vaporizer’s heating chamber or onto the heating coils. From there, turn on the vaporizer, heat to the desired temperature, and inhale the vapor produced inside the device.
Wax is versatile enough to be ingested in other ways, too. You can roll a little glob of wax into a joint, spliff, or blunt, causinging the joint to burn slower and packing it with a more potent punch. This is known as a twax joint, and it is popular among those who want to try an old-school smoking experience with a more intense high.
You can also smoke weed wax by:
- Using a nectar collector, or portable dab rig
- Combining it with flower in a bowl
- Using a knife dab