In general, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) warns that hash is the most potent and concentrated form of cannabis. Hash contains very high levels of THC, usually much higher than marijuana, although THC levels have been climbing in marijuana in recent years.
Since marijuana contains plant material, it is typically less potent than the extracted resin of hashish that eliminates all of the “extras.” Though THC levels vary, marijuana may generally have a potency of 10-20 percent THC while THC levels in hashish can range from 20 percent to 60 percent.
This means that it will take much less hashish than marijuana to achieve psychoactive effects. One hit of hash can go a long way. For someone accustomed to a lower level of THC like that found in marijuana, it can be dangerous to assume the results will be the same.
Higher potency may lead to increased negative consequences of use and raise the risk for an adverse reaction to the drug. NIDA warns that higher levels of THC can raise the odds for addiction. Higher potency can also mean a greater risk for a possible psychotic reaction as heavy use may produce hallucinations, paranoia, and schizophrenia-like symptoms.
The Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reports that in 2011, nearly a half-million Americans received emergency medical treatment in an emergency department (ED) for a negative reaction to the abuse of a cannabinoid drug. Hashish may also commonly be mixed with adulterants as it is manufactured, which can make it even more potentially dangerous as the individual using the drug may not be sure what other substances or toxins the product may contain.
What is Marijuana?
Marijuana is the plant material derived from the cannabis plant while hashish comes from the compressed resin (commonly incorrectly thought to be manufactured from the pollen) of the flowers of the cannabis plant. Both marijuana and hashish can vary in type, potency, and quality.
How Did Marijuana Originate?
Marijuana comes from the dried leaves, flowers, seeds, and stems of the cannabis plant. Commonly called pot, weed, Mary Jane, reefer, grass, bud, ganja, and skunk, marijuana is usually greenish or slightly gray in color. The plant material is regularly smoked in joints, blunts, or through a water pipe (bong), or it is infused into food or drinks called edibles. In 2014, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reported that over 22 million Americans (aged 12 and older) were classified as currently abusing marijuana.
There are over 500 chemicals in marijuana and more than 100 cannabinoids (chemicals similar to THC), NIDA reports. Connoisseurs and cultivators of marijuana are breeding plants to come up with new strains of the drug that are reported to have variable effects and tastes along with ranges of potency and levels of THC. Other drugs may also be added to marijuana plant material (cocaine and heroin can be laced into marijuana joints, for example), increasing the possible side effects and risk factors.