Every now and again, something hits the market which despite pretending to be marijuana…or something that replicates the effects of marijuana…is in fact nothing of the sort. The most recent and prominent example that springs to mind is of course ‘Spice’, which in every respect had about as much in common with weed as boiled potato. Chemical-sprayed randomness that led to a mass outbreak of bizarre (and often naked) behaviour across the United States, along with a bunch of hospitalisations. You’d think that a distinct lack of anyone reporting anything positive having tried the stuff would send the right message, but no…it went pretty much epidemic and is still problematic.
However, authorities in certain cities and states are now finding themselves preoccupied with another scary substance that’s apparently leading to a wave of public health problems. Known locally as shatter – though also referred to in other circles as wax, sap and budder – the description and warnings the police are handing out sound rather troubling to say the least. Along with talking of “hallucinations and other types of psychosis” with a risk of “disconnecting from reality”, they’re apparently worried about how popular shatter is becoming.
When you look at things from a logical perspective however, shatter is in fact nothing more than concentrated weed…albeit quite potently concentrated. If you haven’t already come across the stuff yourself, it looks remarkably like thick and sticky honey, though has a very different kind of sweetness. Highly concentrated, it’s basically made to give those after a heavier high a much more powerful hit than they’d get from standard buds.
Now, the fact that the stuff is made using butane – a chemical solvent – isn’t what’s got lawmakers and concerned parties rather on the worried side. Instead, it’s the fact that you only need an absolutely teeny-tiny bit of the stuff to replicate the same kind of high you get from a much bigger hit of a standard joint or pipe. And unsurprisingly, quite a few of those trying it out for the first time…and not only the first time, if we’re honest…are getting well and truly carried away. They aren’t listening to reason and nor are they heeding the warnings – they’re hitting it hard and fast.
And that’s exactly the point the authorities are doing their best to stress once again – including one DuPage Metropolitan Enforcement Group director, Mark Piccoli. Playing a role in drug law enforcement all across Chicago, he says availability of the stuff seems to be increasing all the time. And while on a per-gram price it does tend to cost about twice as much as marijuana buds, it often lands with a tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of up to 90%. So when you compare this to the standard of around 15% in weed buds, you begin to understand both the strength of the stuff and why so many folk are seeing it as outstanding value for money.
Of course, the concern he shares with others in similar positions is that of how this apparently new and unexplored pot product could lead to an explosion in overdose rates.
"It's very strong compared to smoking marijuana or smoking a joint," he warned.
"You don't see overdoses from marijuana. They're extremely rare, it almost never happens, but I imagine there's a higher potential for that to happen along with hallucinations and other types of psychosis."
Nevertheless, critics have been extremely quick to point out the fact that not only is there absolutely no evidence whatsoever that shatter is causing any such problems, but that it has also been around in one form or another for years. Not only that, but even in an instance where one hit is the equivalent of taking five normal hits, most pot smokers are sensible enough to self-regulate and control themselves accordingly. Or in other words, one hit is unlikely to send anyone over the edge…not a chance.
Still, the “don’t try this at home” warning for the manufacturing process of shatter is one that should be given proper consideration. There are already tons of videos doing the rounds online, giving us all a fair idea of what happens when things go wrong.
Suffice to say, the results are explosive…and not in a good way!