Doobie. Reefer. Joint. Fatty,
bud, skunk, pot and ganga. Welcome to the stoner vernacular. Of course, to truly capture the complete language of marijuana you would need a regularly updated dictionary. That’s because each generation adds its own cultural identity to the drug world. And that world is growing.
Consider this a primer to get you caught up on what’s new, what’s myth and what the concerns are in humanity’s never-ending quest for inebriation. Petrea Rae, coalition coordinator with the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Ontario County, sorts through the trends.
Catching a buzz from drinking has been part of the human existence for centuries. According to Rae, alcohol is still the No. 1 drug of choice. But there seems to be growing interest in ways to consume alcohol.
“I’ve never interacted with someone who has smoked alcohol,” says Rae. “I’ve watched videos and reactions are on both ends of the spectrum. Some say it’s the greatest high of their life. Others say it’s a complete myth.”
Concerns. Drinking alcohol irresponsibly is always a risk. But inhaling alcohol generates a quicker high by entering the blood stream much faster than drinking, thus increasing the possibility of alcohol poisoning.
Rae says many people perceive marijuana as being low-risk, due to its legalization and the medical cannabis movement. Don’t discount the medicinal benefits, but know that awareness and education are paramount.
Dabbing and Oils
Dabbing refers to taking traditional marijuana and concentrating the THC, the component responsible for the high, into a waxy substance — think honeycomb or earwax. Users take a “dab,” heat it up and smoke it.
Oils are another form of concentrated marijuana. Most commonly used for medicinal purposes, a user places the oil on the tongue. The THC concentration in oils is higher than that os smokable cannabis, but lower than dabbing. However, some people use the oils to vape.
Concerns. The concentration of THC in a traditional joint averages about 7 percent to 8 percent. With dabbing, that concentration skyrockets to 70 percent to 80 percent.
In Colorado and Oregon, where
recreational use of marijuana is legal, packaged foods containing marijuana are available in authorized license cannabis shops.
Concerns. Manufacturers are using marketing tactics that appeal to young kids. Rae explains, “If one gummy bear is the equivalent of a joint, eating an entire package can be worrisome. And these packages look like traditional products. The marketing is really good. ‘Pot Tarts’ look just like ‘Pop Tarts.’”
In the discussions surrounding marijuana, don’t fall victim to a common misunderstanding: Hemp is not the same as marijuana. Both are from the cannabis plant, but from two different strains. Marijuana’s chemical structure contains high amounts of THC, and while memp may have trace amounts of THC, these levels are so low it is impossible for a person to get high by smoking it.
Heroin & Prescription Drugs
Heroin is ravaging the nation. It cuts across ethnicities, socioeconomic status and education levels. With a high risk of addiction and potential for overdose, any use of heroin or other opioids is cause for concern.
Because prescription drugs are expensive and difficult to obtain, users seek affordable alternatives. This has led to increased availability of products with escalating concentrations of opioids. Fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin. An amount equivalent to three grains of sand is equivalent to a single heroin dose. Carfentanil is worse — one grain is one dose.
A synthetic opioid produced in China and traditionally used as an elephant tranquilizer is a relative newcomer. Rae says this drug is used to "cut" heroin because it’s cheaper. Like fentanyl and carfentanil, this synthetic can be deadly in extremely small amounts.
“People must understand that if someone becomes addicted, it is a chronic illness and not a moral failing,” Rae says. “The addiction changes their brain chemistry and they need treatment.”
Many people have a certain perception surrounding Narcan, a drug used by emergency medical technicians to save the life of someone who overdosed.
“People worry about Narcan parties,” Rae says. “Narcan is controversial because people believe addicts use it as an excuse to take more drugs. In my world, Narcan saves lives and opens the doors for treatment. I have never encountered an individual who has ever been to a Narcan party. Ever. It’s a social media myth.”
Special mention: vaping
While not new to the scene, vaping is marketed as a smoking sensation product, and some people use it to gradually wean themselves of nicotine dependence.
Concerns. “The problem is that a lot of vaping products don’t have nicotine at all,” Rae says. “There is no understanding of what’s in the ingredients.”