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What is Hash (Hashish)?

Hash is a drug similar to marijuana or ganja but not the same. Both come from cannabis plant material. 

However, hash is concentrated and made from the compressed or purified preparation of the stalked resinous glands of the plant that are known as trichomes. This makes it more potent than marijuana. 

However, hash is concentrated and made from the compressed or purified preparation of the stalked resinous glands of the plant that are known as trichomes. This makes it more potent than marijuana. 

You can smoke it, vaporize it, or ingest it orally. It has a unique flavor, comes in a ball or block, and might be red, brown, black, or green. 

Concentrated cannabis and recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in many states, but laws are changing. Use of cannabis is illegal at the federal level. In 2018, California passed legalization of people 21 and older possessing up to 8 grams of hash. 

What Does Hash Look Like? 

Hash comes in ball or block form. It varies in color and is usually green, red, black, or brown.

How is Hashish Used?

You can smoke, vaporize, or use hash orally in edibles. Hash has less flexibility than marijuana and cannot be used in tinctures, oils, or creams. 

However, you can use hash oil, also known as honey oil or cannabis oil, which is extracted from the cannabis plant. It contains many of its resins and terpenes, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other cannabinoids.

Most medical experts agree that hash does not have the same medical properties as marijuana or CBD, which are used to treat a variety of conditions including depression, cancer, anxiety, and pain.

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How Does Hash Affect the Body?

Hash is a more potent form of cannabis than marijuana because it has a higher concentration of THC. THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the active ingredient responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects.

Most strains of hash contain high levels of THC concentrations of about 40 to 60 percent or higher. One particularly potent type of hash has a 90 percent THC concentration. 

Bubble hash, a solventless concentrate extracted using ice water, is less potent but still contains millions of trichome glands and terpenes.

Hash vs. Marijuana: What’s the Difference? 

Hash and marijuana share some qualities. For example, they are both derived from the cannabis plant. They both trigger euphoria, relaxation, and increased appetite. 

They are both classified as illegal drugs under federal law, despite some states legalizing cannabis and/or marijuana. 

That’s where the similarities end. Hash and marijuana:

  • Are prepared differently. Hash requires more production steps than marijuana
  • Have different flavors. Hash has a complex, spicy, rich flavor, compared to marijuana herbal, fresh flavor. The flavor of hash is also affected by its method of production.
  • Have different potencies. Hash has a higher concentration of THC and therefore, is more potent.
  • Are used differently. Marijuana use is flexible. Hash, on the other hand, can only be vaporized, smoked, or used orally, usually in edibles. 

Is Hash Addictive?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Psychiatric Association, use of hashish can develop into a cannabis use disorder. The disorder or addiction includes:

  • Failed attempts to reduce or eliminate the use of hash
  • Financial problems associated with hash use
  • Problems with work, school, and relationships linked to the use of hash
  • Physical or mental health issues related to hash use
  • Frequent hash cravings
  • Continued use of hash despite its negative impact
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal symptoms 

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Side Effects & Dangers of Hash

Many people consider cannabis a safe drug. However, in its more potent forms, as is the case with hash, the effects of hashish pose many dangers and trigger a variety of negative side effects. 

Some of the side effects of hash include:

  • Sensory distortions
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of motor coordination
  • Respiratory changes
  • Increased heartbeat and blood pressure
  • Elevated risk of cardiovascular issues
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Increased appetite and weight gain
  • Poor decision making
  • Depression
  • Anxiety, panic attacks, and confusion

Long-term use of hash can lead to:

  • Reduced immunity
  • Growth issues (when used during adolescence)
  • Abnormal cell division
  • Reduction in testosterone
  • Respiratory problems
  • Emotional and psychological issues
  • Changes in cognition, mood, and problem solving ability

Risks of Mixing Hash and Alcohol

Many consider alcohol and cannabis relatively safe when used in moderation. However, when combined, especially when cannabis is used in a potent form like hash, the mixture puts users at risk of a variety of side effects. For example:

  • Alcohol enhances the already potent effects of THC when combined with hash. The metabolizing process slows when you mix drugs and alcohol, so THC remains in the system longer.
  • Combining alcohol and hash increases the risk of an overdose of THC. It also creates a greater risk of alcohol poisoning.
  • Mixing hash and alcohol further impedes a user’s ability to think rationally. People with a blend of these substances in their systems tend to behave impulsively and engage in high-risk behavior.
  • Alcohol is dehydrating and becomes even more so when combined with hash.
  • Hash and other cannabis products are antiemetic. This means they reduce the risk of vomiting and help to manage cancer and HIV treatment side effects. This effect is extremely dangerous when combined with alcohol because vomiting is the body’s natural way of eliminating dangerous levels of alcohol from the body.
  • Alcohol intensifies the symptoms of hash use, which include hallucinations and anxiety.
  • Long-term mixing of alcohol and hash increases the risk of liver disease, kidney disease, immune system problems, cardiovascular issues, and gastrointestinal health problems.
  • Mixing alcohol and hash increases the potential that a person will become addicted to both substances.

Symptoms of Hash Use and Addiction

Symptoms of hash use include:

  • Sore throat
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Lack of motivation
  • Impaired coordination
  • Delusional thoughts
  • Hallucinations

You might have developed a hash addiction if you answer “yes” to any of the following:

  • Have I tried to reduce or stop using hash without success?
  • Do I spend a lot of money on hash, even if I don’t have it to spend?
  • Do I use hash more than once a week to deal with stress?
  • Have I ever used hash when I knew I shouldn’t, such as at work or while driving?
  • Do I spend the majority of my time using hash or thinking about using hash?
  • Have I avoided or given up things I once enjoyed to use hash?
  • Have I missed work, school, or social functions due to hash use?
  • Have I increased my dosage of hash to achieve the same effect?
  • Do I experience withdrawal symptoms after not using hash for a day or two?

Hash Withdrawal Symptoms

Long-term, chronic use of hash leads to physical dependence. When someone is physically addicted to a substance, they experience withdrawal symptoms when they do not use it. 

Long-term effects and withdrawal symptoms associated with hash include:

  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Disturbing dreams
  • Cravings for the drug
  • Loss of appetite

Treatment Options for Hash Addiction

There are several inpatient and outpatient options for people addicted to hash. Inpatient residential options often have the highest level of success because they remove people from temptation and allow them to focus entirely on recovery. 

However, many people experience a successful recovery from substance use in outpatient programs, too.

Treatment options on an inpatient or outpatient basis include:

  • Detox services that offer support, supervision, and treatment of symptoms during the withdrawal phase of recovery
  • Therapy and counseling that helps people identify the reason they developed their addiction and how to better manage situations that trigger their desire to use a substance
  • Support groups, including 12-step programs that enable people to receive and provide support to their peers
  • Family therapy that provides support and education to the patient and his or her loved ones
  • Additional support such as vocational rehab, case management services, and occupational therapy

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Resources

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National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Addiction Treatment.” National Institute on Drug Abuse, 3 May 2021, https://www.drugabuse.gov/nidamed-medical-health-professionals/treatment/addiction-treatment.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Principles of Effective Treatment.” Drugabuse.gov, 2018, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment.

Grinspoon, Peter. “Medical Marijuana - Harvard Health Blog.” Harvard Health Blog, 9 Jan. 2018, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085.

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need to Know.” NCCIH, Nov. 2019, https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/cannabis-marijuana-and-cannabinoids-what-you-need-to-know.

Office of the Commissioner. “FDA and Cannabis: Research and Drug Approval Process.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2019, https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-and-cannabis-research-and-drug-approval-process.

“Health Effects.” Marijuana and Public Health, 2019, https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/health-effects.html.

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