Hash oil

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Closeup image of a drop of hash oil on the end of a needle

Hash oil (also known as hashish oil, butane honey oil, BHO, wax, shatter, crumble, honey oil, dabs, budder, liquid cannabis) is a resinoid obtained by solvents, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hyperbaric extraction of dried female cannabis flowers, as distinct from hemp flowers as hemp is the name for "industrial" cannabis or marijuana plant without significant thc, the main active cannabanoid.

Hash oil may contain much psychoactive cannabinoids, depending on the plant's mix of essential oils and cannabinoids.[1] Hash oil extracted with butane or supercritical carbon dioxide has become popular in recent years.[2]

THC contents[edit]

THC content of hash oil varies tremendously, since the manufacturers use a random assortment of marijuana and preparation techniques. Dealers sometimes cut hash oils with other oils.[3]

Hash oils seized in the 1970s had a THC contents ranging from 10 to 30%. The oil available on the U.S. West Coast in 1974 averaged about 15% THC.[3] Samples seized across the United States by the Drug Enforcement Administration over an 18-year period (1980-1997) showed that THC content in hashish and hashish oil averaging 12.9% and 17.4%, respectively, did not show an increase over time.[4]

The 2009 World Drug Reports reports THC content as "may exceed 60%". A 2013 American forensic science book gave a range of 10–30% delta-9 THC by weight and a 1972 American forensic journal reported a range of 20–65%.[5][6]


Hash oil can be consumed by methods such as smoking, ingestion, or vaporization (dabbing).[7] A water pipe, often small, is commonly used for hash oil vaporization and may be called an "oil rig". Such designs feature a nail or skillet, commonly titanium, quartz, borosilicate glass, or ceramic, which serves to be heated to temperatures nearing 800 °C, typically by a hand-held blowtorch . A dental pick, glass rod, or special tool called a dabber — laden with dabs — is used to dab the nail with hash oil, which is consequently vaporized and inhaled. Hash oil can also be consumed with a device known as a vapor pen, wax pen, or a dabbing pen. These devices share the same components of an electronic cigarette, which usually consist of a battery and an atomizer. Atomizers can come in various designs and configurations, such as single or dual coils and with silica wicks or "wickless" designs featuring a ceramic bar or "wick" in place of the silica wick.

Dabbing hash oil.


Hash oil is produced by solvent extraction of dried female hemp flowers. Dried marijuana or hashish are dissolved in a suitable solvent and boiled (or refluxed in a laboratory setting) for some time. Some extractors are similar in design to a coffee machine, where the solvent drips through the marijuana and leaches out the cannabinoids. After evaporating the solvent, a sticky resinous dark liquid with a strong herbal odor remains.[3]

Fresh, undried plant material is less suited for hash oil production, because much THC and CBD will be present in their carboxylic acid forms (THCA and CBDA), which may not be highly soluble in some solvents.[3] The acids are decarboxylated during drying and heating (smoking). Fresh, undried plant material is best suited for concrete production.

A wide variety of solvents can be used for extraction, such as chloroform, dichloromethane, petroleum ether, benzene, methanol, ethanol and isopropanol.[3] Currently, resinoids are often obtained by extraction with supercritical carbon dioxide. The alcohols extract undesirable water-soluble substances such as chlorophylls and sugars (which can be removed later by washing with water). Non-polar solvents such as benzene, chloroform and petroleum ether will not extract the water-soluble constituents of marijuana or hashish, and will yield a somewhat more potent oil as a result.[3]

One pound of marijuana yields from 1/5 to 1/10 of a pound of hash oil.[8]

Artificial hashish can be made by adding hash oil to blenderized marijuana in a ratio of from 10 to 50% oil, kneading and drying.[3]

Any CBD present can be dehydrated to THC by dissolving the hash oil in a suitable solvent, adding a stoichiometric amount of hydrochloric or sulfuric acid, and heating the solution, afterwards neutralizing any surplus acid, e. g. with sodium bicarbonate.[3][9]

Colored impurities from the oil can be removed by adding activated charcoal to about one third to one half the weight or volume of the solvent containing the dissolved oil, mixing well, filtering, and evaporating the solvent.[3] When decolorizing fatty oils, oil retention can be up to 50 wt % on bleaching earths and nearly 100 wt % on activated charcoal.[10]

Most of the solvents employed are flammable, making the extraction process dangerous. Several explosion and fire incidents related to hash oil manufacturing attempts in homes have been reported.[11]


Main article: Legality of cannabis

Cannabis extracts (including hash oil) are classified as narcotic drugs under Schedule I and IV of the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.[12]


The 2006 World Drug Report reports that cannabis oil seizures doubled in 2004, and that it represented 0.01% of global cannabis seized.[13] In 2007, 418 kg equivalent of hash oil was seized globally.[14]

Australia and New Zealand[edit]

In the Northern Territory, adults found in possession of up to one gram of hash oil can face a fine of up to $200, which if paid within 28 days, negates a criminal charge.[15]

Under New Zealand law hashish, hash oil, THC, and any other preparations containing THC made by processing the plant are scheduled as Class B substances.[16]


Issues a warning to those in possession of a substance for personal use which contains up to one gram of THC, with further sanctions following if the subject re-offends.[12]


Although provision of tools utilized in production and consumption of cannabis is illegal in Portugal; Portuguese law allows for the possession of up to 2.5 grams of hash oil for personal use.

United States[edit]

The legality of hash in the United States varies by state or municipality,[citation needed] although it remains illegal at the federal level. In some areas, possession and use, or sale and production (depending on the method used) may be legal or decriminalized for medical or recreational use.[citation needed]

Until guidelines were amended in November 1995, Federal law did not explicitly define the difference between marijuana, hash, and hash oil, which led to cannabis preparations being assessed case-by-case.[17] Under 1996 federal guidelines, hashish oil is characterized as "A preparation of the soluble cannabinioids derived from Cannabis that includes (i) one or more of the tetrahydrocannibinols.. ..and (ii) at least two of the following: cannabinol, cannabidiol, or cannibichromene, and (iii) is essentially free of plant material."[18]

Making hash oil is illegal in California,[19] and impurities are another concern.[20]

United Kingdom[edit]

Hashish is classified as a Class B controlled substance under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. The status of "liquid cannabis" was the subject of legal argument in 2013.[21] The Misuse of Drugs Act: A Guide For Forensic Scientists published by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2003 suggested that the term "liquid cannabis" was preferable to "hash oil", as it did not involve definition of what exactly constituted an "oil". The authors recommended adoption of "purified form" instead of "solvent extract" when describing hash oil, as the former would not require proof of solvent usage by forensic scientists.[22]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ World Drug Report. United Nations Publications. 2009. p. 98. 
  2. ^ Alison Hallett for Wired. Feb. 20, 2013 Hash Oil is Blowing Up Across the U.S. - Literally
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Michael Starks (1990), Marijuana Chemistry (2nd ed.), Ronin, pp. 111–126 
  4. ^ Marilyn A. Huestis; Michael L. Smith (2007), "Human Cannabinoid Pharmacokinetics and Interpretation of Cannabinoid Concentrations in Biological Fluids and Tissues", in Mahmoud A. ElSohly, Marijuana and the Cannabinoids, Humana Press, pp. 205–235 
  5. ^ Jim Fraser, Robin Williams (eds.) (2013). Handbook of Forensic Science. Routledge. p. 117. ISBN 9781134028702. 
  6. ^ Thornton; Nakamura (1972). "Criminal Investigation". Journal of Forensic Science Society. 
  7. ^ Cynthia Kuhn, Scott Swartzwelder, Wilkie Wilson, Leigh Heather Wilson, Jeremy Foster (2003). Buzzed. W. W. Norton & Company; 2 Rev Upd edition. pp. 139–140. ISBN 978-0-393-32493-8. 
  8. ^ http://www.wired.com/2013/02/hash-oil-explosion/
  9. ^ Yechiel Gaoni; Raphael Mechoulam (1964), "Isolation, Structure, and Partial Synthesis of an Active Constituent of Hashish", Journal of the American Chemical Society 86: 1646–1647, doi:10.1021/ja01062a046 
  10. ^ Alfred Thomas (2007), "Fats and Fatty Oils", Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry (7th ed.), Wiley, p. 31 
  11. ^ Risling, Greg (2013-03-17). "Explosions highlight risk in making hash oil". Spokesman Review. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Legal Topic Overviews: Possession of Cannabis for Personal Use". European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. 2012-01-26. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  13. ^ 2006 World Drug Report: Analysis. United Nations Publications. 2006. p. 2033. ISBN 9211482143. 
  14. ^ World Drug Report. United Nations Publications. 2009. p. 98. 
  15. ^ "Cannabis and the Law". National Cannabis Information and Prevention Centre. 19 February 2013. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  16. ^ "Schedule 2: Class B controlled drugs", Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 No 116 (as at 08 September 2011), Public Act (Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Parliamentary Counsel Office/Te Tari Tohutohu Pāremata), 8 September 2011, Part 1 clause 1 
  17. ^ Boire, Richard (1996). Marijuana Law. p. 20. ISBN 0914171860. 
  18. ^ Boire, Richard (1996). Marijuana Law. p. 21. ISBN 0914171860. 
  19. ^ Down, David [1] "A Little Dab Could Doom Ya" East Bay Express April 10, 2013
  20. ^ Roberts, Michael "Butane hash has hidden dangers, says edibles maker arguing against controversial solvent" Westword February 25, 2011
  21. ^ "House of Lords – Section 2 - Types Of Cannabis Available On The Illicit Market In The UK". Independent Drug Monitoring Unit. Retrieved 3 May 2013. 
  22. ^ King, Leslie A. (2003). The Misuse of Drugs Act: A Guide For Forensic Scientists. Royal Society of Chemistry. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-85404-625-6.