July 18, 2022
There are so many things to be aware of while raising kids and THC is one more topic to put on that list. While the information below won’t cover every detail, we hope it will help you stay up on the constantly changing marijuana of today while better supporting the kids in your lives.
Please consider using this information as a starting point for further learning and thoughtful discussions with your family and friends. Please share widely with those that care about kids!
Why it Matters:
Dabbing is a dangerous trend that is increasing among our youth as a way to use ultra-potent marijuana concentrates. THC concentration (often called potency) became a rising concern after nearly half of all Colorado high schools students that reported using marijuana in the past 30 days, reported dabbing high potent concentrates.
In 2019, One Chance To Grow Up worked with the Colorado legislature to ask the state health department to produce a report on the mental and physical health impacts of high potency THC. We were successful in this effort and in 2020, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment released a report on THC Concentration in Colorado. The report clearly stated several important public health warnings of the harms and concluded “It is clear that use of products with high concentrations of THC are associated with higher rates of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, psychosis, and generalized anxiety disorder.”
What you need to know:
7/10 marks a date each year to glorify THC concentrates. “710” rotated and written upside down spells OIL, a word used to describe highly potent marijuana concentrates often called budder, wax, crumble, shatter, resin, sauce, honeycomb, green crack, butane hash oil and more, which can have THC levels up to 97% versus an average of 10-25% for dried marijuana plant material.
Dabbing is the act of inhaling vaporized concentrate products, using high heat through a dabbing tool such as a dab rig, e-rig, or vaporizer pen. A smaller setup is the use of a glass tube called a honey straw or nectar collector. These are small, portable and can be easily hidden from parents and educators. Dabbing can also be done with any piece of metal or glass: a knife, nail or wire stuck in an eraser, metal straw, eye dropper tube or foil, dipped in the product, heated, changing a concentrate into vapor that is then inhaled.
High THC concentrates are created in a commercial environment with modern equipment or in a home setting. Butane is a troubling and commonly used solvent in non-regulated production because it is inexpensive and adequately produces butane hash oil. The resulting extracts have different textures including a gooey liquid, sticky resin, soft solid, or solid and usually amber or dark colored.
As with vaping, dabbing exposes the lungs to many harmful chemicals. One study noted that 80% of tested concentrates were contaminated in some form, not only with pesticides, but also with residual solvents left from the manufacturing process. Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the way most plants smell and are abundant in the cannabis plant. A study from Portland State University from September 2017 found that vaporizing at temperatures near 600 degrees turns terpenes toxic.
Mental Health Impacts:
THC use can lead to the development of marijuana use disorder. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), recent data suggest that 30% of those who use marijuana may have some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before the age of 18 are 4-7 times more likely to develop a marijuana use disorder than adults. The risks of physical dependence and addiction also increases with the use of high THC concentrates.
My son started using THC when he was in 8th grade. He started to hang around with some slightly older kids, not part of his regular friend group, that were using THC. Use continued with his regular friends but often he got high in his room, before school. I didn’t realize the extent of it until I started finding questionable items in his room. When confronted about it he would say “That must be something old, I’m not doing that anymore” but I would continue to find THC concentrate products and paraphernalia. We had many conversations. ”Yes”, I said, “some can use marijuana with little consequence but others (like a student from his high school) don’t come out the other side” - to live a productive life without debilitating mental and physical health issues.
He has had a number of outbursts about seemingly unimportant subjects in which he was unable to calm himself. He also started having regular episodes of stomach issues with increasing occurrences of vomiting. Without an official diagnosis, I believe it was Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). The last occurrence was in January 2022 when we spent 4 hours in the emergency room waiting, until his constant vomiting subsided and he chose to go home.
As with any substance that is used regularly, most will build up a tolerance and need more to achieve the same intoxication level. High doses of THC can produce severe symptoms including agitation, vomiting, hallucinations, and psychosis that can persist for several hours up to several days. This is sometimes referred to as “greening out”.
Regular users of high THC concentrates often talk of taking a T-break (tolerance break), in an attempt to break the tolerance cycle in which they use increasingly higher THC amounts to achieve the same level of high. The comments from users on some online discussion boards are disturbing and may warrant further research.
Colorado now requires purchasers of high THC products be given a state provided educational handout with each sale of marijuana concentrate that contains four health warnings for:
- Psychotic symptoms
- Mental health symptoms
- Cannabis Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS) -uncontrolled and repetitive vomiting
- Cannabis use disorder/dependence
The handout also advises against THC concentrate use by persons under 25 with the warning “People 25 and under may be at greater risk of potential harm because the brain is not fully developed.”
What you can do:
Teens go through many changes growing into young adults. However, if you notice significant changes in behavior, or physical well-being, your child may be using THC or have an underlying mental health issue. Neither of which should be ignored. When combined with physical evidence, like the presence of vaping or unexplained devices, the odds increase they may be using THC.
Please contact your child’s health care provider or mental health center in your community if you are concerned.
Be mindful that the marijuana industry and products are evolving very rapidly. Information and legislation needs to keep up. Unfortunately, many new, radically different and often kid-friendly products are constantly being introduced and aggressively marketed. Check out THCPhotos.org for current updates of today’s available products in states where THC is commercially available. Please visit our website if you would like more information and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Thank you for your care and support in better protecting our kids.
The One Chance Team
Colorado School of Public Health mandated research and education
The initial report has been submitted to the legislature but comments and feedback (including personal accounts) are still welcome.
One Chance to Grow Up protects kids from today’s marijuana through transparency, education, empowerment and policy. We don’t take sides on the politics of legalization for adults but instead serve as a reliable resource for parents, media, policymakers, and all those who care about kids.
Started by concerned parents and supported entirely by charitable contributions, One Chance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center.
One Chance to Grow Up
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