A new form of drug known as shatter, which is derived from marijuana, is gaining popularity in the western region for being so potent that users dubbed it as "marijuana of steroids," reported CBC News on Jan. 5.
Shatter reportedly has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that makes it six times more powerful than marijuana, posing a new challenge to law enforcers, especially with the government's move on making cannabis legal.
"It's the highly variable (tetrahydrocannabinol) concentration that you see where a lot of people get into dangers," said Matthew Young, a senior research and policy analyst at the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse. "They don't really know how much they're taking. Without knowing how much they're taking, they don't necessarily know the effects it's going to have on their mind and body."
According to New York Daily News on Dec. 24, shatter comes in a yellow crystallized form, with 90 percent THC concentration, and is commonly produced on the West Coast.
The drug is consumed by melting the yellow brittle and smoked through a process known to marijuana users as "dabbing," with the use of a vaporizer.
Shatter is becoming widely available, especially in Washington and Colorado, as it easier to transport than marijuana.
"One of the things about the THC extracts are they are very easy to transport," said Drug Enforcement Agency spokesman Michael Shavers. "It's much easier to transport THC extract than bales of marijuana."
Marijuana usually cost around $5 to $10 for every gram, while shatter is sold at around $35 per gram.
"It's easier to hide, quicker to smoke and the smoke is not likely as cloudy as smoking a joint," said Elizabethtown police officer Michael Lyons on shatter's popularity.
More than the potential health hazards of shatter, law enforcers are also on the lookout for the relative danger that comes in manufacturing the drug. In order to extract THC from marijuana, butane must be used, which is a highly flammable substance that has reportedly resulted to explosions in THC laboratories.
"The danger of producing it is certainly a matter of concern," noted Shavers. "Any spark and you got trouble."