What is shatter?

It is a more potent form of marijuana. Shatter is its street name, but it is also known as BHO, Butane Has Oil. It is made using butane gas to remove terpenes (aromatic compounds found in many plants) and other substances to obtain a high concentration of THC from the marijuana plant. That is the main reason it is called BHO.

The drug has a yellowish colour resembling amber. It is a glass-like substance that shatters when it splits, which explains its street name. “Dabbing” is the term used for smoking it. 

A little “dab’ll do ya” is a catchphrase used for the intense high it produces compared to the mellow effects of a joint. Ash oil isn’t new, but the current version of BHO is. This version started making headlines around 2010.

Shatter contains from 60 to 80 percent THC, conventional marijuana trails behind by a considerable margin. Traditional marijuana contains only 15 to 25 percent THC. Needless to say, the effects of this drug are more intense and intoxicating.

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How is BHO Ingested?

A person dabbing would take a small amount and put it on a hot surface to inhale the smoke. Often called the crack of marijuana, the pipe used to smoke it is similar to a crack pipe. People can vape it or add it to food products such as cakes, cookies, and many other food items.

Shatter is illegal in most countries. In 2019, the Canadian government approved its sale along with other cannabis products. One can buy shatter off the internet. When manufacturing BHO, the heating process removes the butane from the mixture. 

In a makeshift illegal lab, if improperly heated, some butane might remain. People who smoke it face that added danger.

Side Effects of Dabbing

Here are many adverse effects of marijuana. Shatter, having a higher percentage of THC is more likely to produce these side effects.

Dabbing’s side effects:

  • High blood pressure and increased heartbeat
  • Infections, including sinus infections, bronchitis, and asthma
  • Narrowing airway and spasms
  • Sore throat
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Panic attacks
  • Hysteria, delusions, anxiety, and hallucinations
  • Difficulty caring
  • Overly anxious or panicky
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Reduced ability to think clearly and listen accurately
  • Impaired judgment
  • Declined motivation
  • Slowed speech
  • Reduced coordination

An overdose is usually not fatal, but the potency of shatter can cause a person to faint or have a temporary drug-induced psychosis. In some cases, it can aggravate an existing mental illness or trigger a disorder involving psychosis that can worsen even after stopping the drug.

What to Expect from Withdrawal Symptoms?

BHO withdrawal has different stages. It starts after 24 to 72 hours of last use.

The first set of symptoms are appetite and sleep-related and can last a couple of weeks. Other symptoms start after the fourth day.

    • Lack of appetite
    • Insomnia
    • Night sweats
    • Irritability and anger (Fourth day)
    • Anxiety
    • Restlessness
    • Irritability and anger
    • Nightmares and vivid dreaming
    • Intense mood swings

Because of its higher THC levels, the withdrawal symptoms can be harsher and unsettling.

Length of Withdrawal

Shatter contains fat-soluble molecules. It loges in the fatty tissues and stays in the system for four weeks after the last dose. In extreme cases, it can last for more than two months.

Withdrawal can vary between people. Volume and frequency of use are factors that determine withdrawal symptoms. Other factors also include the person’s metabolism and method of use. But because BHO is oil soluble, it usually takes more time to leave the system. Withdrawal can affect a person drastically while not affecting another one that much.

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Marc J. Bernard

Substance Use Disorder & Recovery Professional,
Referral & Consultation Counsellor

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