Like many marijuana derivatives, often called synthetics, experts say that shatter has several times the potency of the typical, unrefined cannabis plant.
The seizure near Dulles International Airport in December follows a month after 100 pounds of the drug were confiscated by Illinois State Police in connection with three arrests. A spokesperson for the department claims that there have been five such cases in the Chicago area in less than a year.
Shatter, a form of butane hash oil, or BHO, is manufactured by pushing the chemical solvent butane through the cannabis plant materials, releasing its essential oils. Once the butane evaporates, a thin, translucent sheet resembling glass remains.
Experts speaking on behalf of law enforcement have voiced concern over the potential consequences linked to the drug’s high potency, claiming that it causes users to “disconnect from reality,” leading to “hallucinations and other types of psychosis.”
Unrefined marijuana contains between 8 and 20 percent of the active ingredient THC, whereas shatter and other cannabis derivatives have been found to contain amounts upwards of 80 percent.
Marijuana advocates, however, take an entirely different viewpoint on THC derivatives. According to one spokesperson for the Marijuana Industry Group, shatter and other BHOs are nothing more than a concentrated form of marijuana, and that “even the most potent form is not going to result in overdose or death.”
The potential danger comes from black market processing and distribution, in which improper use of gas or chemicals can result in explosions or traces of chemical residues may remain in the final product.
What Do You Think?
The growing popularity of BHOs in the United States poses a number of new questions that will certainly be debated by law enforcement, legislators and marijuana advocate groups.
Should marijuana derivatives such as shatter be treated differently than unrefined cannabis? Should states that are moving towards legalization seek to make a legal distinction between the two? I’d love to hear what you think, so share your thoughts on shatter—you can sound off on Twitter or Facebook.