New findings from an American research team indicate that teenagers who feel addicted to marijuana have a sharply increased chance of consuming hashish, a more concentrated and powerful form of the plant-based drug cannabis. Compared to their adult counterparts, teenagers have an almost 100 percent greater chance of getting addicted to marijuana/cannabis once they initiate use of the drug. In a study published in April 2015 in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, researchers from the City University of New York and several branches of New York University sought to determine which teens have the highest chances of becoming hashish consumers and, consequently, of needing treatment for their addiction. Among other things, these researchers concluded that teenagers who feel their marijuana use is addiction-related have steeply heightened odds of initiating hashish intake.
Hashish and marijuana both come from the hemp plant known as cannabis sativa. However, while marijuana comes from dried cannabis leaves, flowers and stems, hashish comes from resin glands on cannabis plants called trichomes, which are particularly high in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psychoactive ingredient in all cannabis products. Production of hashish commonly involves the compression of cannabis trichomes into a solid, brick-like form. However, manufacturers of the drug can also use a water purification process to make a more pliable, paste-like form of hashish. Some hashish/cannabis producers specifically grow a form of the plant with a high trichome content. The marijuana currently sold in the U.S. typically has a much higher THC content than the marijuana available 20 or 30 years ago. In addition, some manufacturers and individual consumers use butane or other solvent materials to concentrate the THC in hashish by creating a substance known as hashish oil or “dabs.” In addition to the dangers associated with exposure to extraordinarily high levels of THC, hashish oil users expose themselves to burn and explosion risks associated with consuming a substance made with highly flammable solvents.
Teens and Hashish Use
The National Institute on Drug Abuse uses a nationwide, University of Michigan-led project called Monitoring the Future to keep yearly tabs on how many American eighth, 10th and 12th graders consume either of two cannabis products: marijuana and hashish. In its general reporting on its findings, Monitoring the Future includes marijuana-using and hashish-using teens from each grade together in a single category. In the year 2014, roughly 21 percent of all 12th graders consumed marijuana or hashish at least once a month. Almost 17 percent of 10th graders used one of the two forms of cannabis at least once monthly, and the monthly rate of use among eighth graders was 6.5 percent. Generally speaking, hashish availability in the U.S. is much lower than marijuana availability; for this and other reasons, most teen cannabis users consume marijuana, not hashish.
Which Teens Have the Highest Risks?
In the study published in The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the City University of New York and New York University researchers used a detailed breakdown of the Monitoring the Future findings gathered between 2007 and 2011 to help determine which U.S. teenagers have the highest risks for getting involved in hashish consumption. The researchers focused their attention on 12th graders, the teen group most likely to consume cannabis in any form. All told, 10,597 12th graders from across the country were included in the project. The researchers looked at the factors that contribute to at least one instance of hashish consumption over the course of a typical year. The researchers preliminarily concluded that approximately 6.5 percent of all high school seniors consume hashish at least once annually. Among seniors who use marijuana, the rate of hashish intake is roughly 18.3 percent. The researchers found that hashish-consuming 12th graders largely share demographic factors (e.g., gender, racial/ethnic background, socioeconomic status) with marijuana-consuming 12th graders. However, they also found that 12th graders who self-perceive an addiction to marijuana use have close to a 100 percent higher chance of using hashish than their peers who don’t feel compelled to consume marijuana. The study’s authors note that 12th graders involved in other forms of drug use also have elevated chances of becoming hashish consumers; conversely, girls in the 12th grade typically have reduced chances of consuming the drug. The authors believe they are the first group of researchers to specifically explore the extent of hashish use and the reasons for hashish use among all American teenagers.