Federal agents are cracking down on a marijuana product in California that they’re leaving alone just a few states over.
The product is an increasingly popular extract known as wax, honey oil or hash oil, and it comes with a dangerous recipe, an incredibly intense high, and the inevitable scary warnings from law enforcement.
“There is no weed out there that possesses the punching power that the wax does,” an undercover DEA agent told ABC News’ “Nightline.” “And it’s like smoking 20 joints of the best grade of weed that you have into one hit of the wax.”
Cops are notorious for overstating the amount of THC in “modern” marijuana. According to he National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the average concentration of THC in present-day cannabis is 1-5 percent. Yet police and even the pot industry repeatedly push the notion the drug is 15-20 percent THC.
Claims by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are even more outlandish.
“In a beer or glass of wine, the intoxicating ingredient is alcohol,” said Sgt. Bob Wachsmuth of the department’s Juvenile Intervention Team. “Regular marijuana today has a THC level of 20 to 25 percent, but wax is concentrated and is well over 35 percent THC and stronger.”
The THC figures quoted by law enforcement and the federal government vary wildly, so the consensus seems to be that no one knows exactly how much THC is in a typical batch of honey oil.
It is common knowledge, however, that the extract packs a wallop. A single hit has been known to bring on an all-day high. It’s become very popular in California’s medical pot market, but also in Colorado, where all marijuana is legal for recreational use.
As usual, the DEA has a special grudge against the Golden State. Federal agents there are targeting providers who make and sell wax, even though in Colorado they’re letting pot shops sell it openly.
For the most part, police are simply using wax as another propaganda tool in the drug wars. It’s an easy way for them to say, “marijuana is just like meth” and scare voters away from legalization.
The reality is, making honey oil is a dangerous process because it involves butane that can explode without proper ventilation. And there have been increasing reports of explosions and home fires caused by wax making.
But in a legal market like Colorado’s, wax manufacture is regulated, and safety is a priority. Pot shops don’t buy their wax from a few guys who rented a house together to make it on the sly – a more typical arrangement for providers in California.
What’s more, police themselves are largely responsible for the lack of regulation in California. Law enforcement lobbyists have repeatedly killed legislation designed to tighten the reins on the MMJ industry, primarily because cops don’t want to legitimize any kind of marijuana.
More importantly, though, most users still smoke their weed old school. Not many people can afford to be high 24 hours a day, and dried plant is a happy medium for most. In other words, wax is a fraction of the overall cannabis market. Targeting it and pointing to it as evidence of the drug’s “dangers” is misleading and wasteful.