As cannabis moves closer to legalization, and Canadians accept the plant as a part of everyday life, it has become more difficult of police and other authorities to use the same fear tactics around marijuana to discourage its use.
One of the latest attempts however, comes at the expense of cannabis derivatives that the general population has no experience with — specifically shatter.
An extract that can be found in concentrates as high as 90 per cent THC, shatter has been brought to the forefront of dialogue around cannabis, especially in the last year, as a harmful product that Canadians need to be concerned with.
“Parents!!!! Please educate your children on the dangers of ‘Shatter’. We cannot lose any more young people to senseless overdoses.”
Later apologizing for the remarks, the message represents a lack of understanding that still exists around cannabis and products made from it.
Representatives from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse said shatter consumption can cause “dangers” and warned against the effects on the mind and body by people who “don’t really know how much they’re taking.” While the RCMP said the production of shatter is more dangerous than methamphetamine.
A representative from Thompson Caribou Concentrates, who wished to remain anonymous, said he suspected the messaging around shatter comes from a push to make producers like his business look less qualified than government licensed producers, who he suspects will soon be granted permission to create a wider variety of extracts.
“It’s fear tactics,” he said. “It seems to me to be one desperate last push from authorities — they’re loading the gun up and choosing one last target.”
He said that any comparisons to methamphetamine are “ridiculous.”
He explained that, like any other production process where chemicals like butane, propane or ethanol are involved, there are dangers but, unlike methamphetamine production, concentrate only use a single solvent, and don’t have the much greater risk of chemical compounds mixing together to become toxic or explosive.
“The labs I’m a part of are the safest areas you could be in, it’s all knowledge of the equipment,” he said.
Any idea that concentrates cause overdoses or other medical issues is also unsubstantiated according to the concentrate producer.
“I think it’s the strength of it that people might have a concern with,” he explained. “If someone who’s never smoked a concentrate before goes and has a couple dabs of it, they’re going to feel it quite a bit more than someone who is regularly exposed to high content of THC.”
“But asking if you’re going to use concentrate or have a couple dabs and that’s somehow going to contribute to you getting schizophrenia or mental illness, I don’t think there’s any correlation at all,” he said. “I know people that have had mental illnesses that THC has directly benefited.”
With the amount of information readily available today, online, people can find answers about concentrates themselves, something that more and more people will do as concentrates become more widely used.
“I’ve said it for many years and I truly believe that concentrates are the way of the future,” said the Thompson spokesperson. “I believe that the medical benefits you get, greatly exceeds what you can receive from just smoking marijuana through a rolling paper.”
Since beginning operation nine months ago, Thompson Caribou has dealt with hundreds to thousands of medical patients each month whose lives are directly benefited by their products.
“I genuinely care about what we’re doing, I care about the cause,” the representative said. “It’s frustrating, but you have to hold out a little hope.
“I don’t know which way the regulatory process is going to go, but hopefully it doesn’t oust people who have been dedicated for the last few years to doing things properly.”