I want to bring a relatively new contender to the realm of weed use into light: the infamous dab pen. Small, discreet and virtually odorless after a few minutes pass, dab or “wax” pens are the stuff of dreams to smokers who are looking for the most convenient way to get a buzz. It has without a doubt taken the game by storm — perhaps a bit too quickly for my comfort.
While the components of weed are pretty self-explanatory, a lot of THC cartridges for dab pens are often sold on the street without much information about their ingredients and manufacturing processes. The wax in these pens are a form of THC concentrate made from the oil of hash, a resin that lines the surface of female marijuana plants. The surfaces of these plants are blasted with butane, and the final product can potentially contain the most potent form of THC, with most samples clocking in at 90 percent THC content or higher while most marijuana plants of today hold around 30 percent in comparison. If you ask me, something about the idea of smoking or vaping the pure chemical form of a drug with triple or more the potency of its plant form (that’s already been highly genetically engineered and altered for stronger effects) seems too extreme to not yield at least some measure of consequence. Especially when considering that, unlike weed, you don’t exactly know what you’re consuming.
Let’s assume professionally made cannabis wax holds no adverse mental or physical health risks that might later surface in users a few decades down the line and are therefore deemed safe. Cannabis wax can, in fact, be made at home with the proper knowledge and resources. I can imagine this would be an appealing cost-efficient option within the black market and that, subsequently, some cutting of corners within production could occur to further decrease production costs and maximize revenue. This could entail possibly harmful chemicals such as pesticides being present in that one-gram wax cartridge you bought for a steal of $30 off a random person at a frat party who you have no way of contacting after said purchase.
This is also not to mention the ways in which production of cannabis wax could go bad under the wrong hands. Given that professional manufacturers have been switching from using residual chemicals such as butane or hexane to safer extraction methods using carbon dioxide, I can only imagine how much dangerous residual content might be present in unlabeled wax cartridges bought off the street.
After all, we’ve seen it before with cigarettes. In the early and mid-20th century, cigarette smoking was particularly rampant throughout the country because we simply didn’t know the health risks. It wasn’t until the 1930s that associations between smoking and cancer were even recognized.
If you do choose to use wax pens, maybe think twice about where your high is coming from. Only time will tell what these new sources of escape are doing to our bodies.
Sean Morton is a junior majoring in English.