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Hash Oil: Benefits, Side Effects, Use, Risks, Is Hash Oil Legal

In recent times, hash oil has been attracting attention from all sectors. In simple words, hash oil is oil that is extracted from cannabis. The oil has a higher concentration than THC, which is the primary psychoactive substance found in cannabis and is therefore known to have a reputation for being even more potent than other forms of pot. The reason why hash oil has been drawing so much attention is because it can be smoked, eaten, vaped, and even rubbed onto the skin or sore muscles. The use of hash oil is today referred to as ‘burning’ or ‘dabbing.’ Here’s everything you need to know about hash oil.

What is Hash Oil?

Hash oil is the concentrated extract of cannabis that can be eaten, vaped, smoked, or even rubbed onto the skin or sore muscles. The growing use of hash oil has given rise to the term ‘burning’ or dabbing.’ Hash oil is derived from the cannabis plant, and it contains THC, which is the same psychoactive substance that is found in other marijuana products. Hash oil is said to be even more potent than THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol).What is Hash OilHash oil is known to contain up to 90 percent THC, which is what makes it so much more potent than other marijuana products.(1) In contrast to this, other cannabis plant products contain just 12 percent of THC levels.(2)

Hash oil and other marijuana concentrates are all-powerful extracts taken from the cannabis plant.

It looks like a thick liquid as it is basically cannabis resin mixed with other types of solvents in order to turn it into an oil. These typically include:

  • Butane
  • Alcohol
  • Petroleum ether

Has oil also contains CBD, THC, and all the other terpenes and cannabinoids found in the resin. The exact composition of hash oil depends on the type of oil and type of resin being used.

For example, when it comes to butane hash oil, if it is not made by a professional, then you may end up having too much butane in the final oil product, which is highly unhealthy and can be harmful.

Here are some of the commonly available types of has oil:

Hash oil is also known as marijuana oil, honey oil, or hashish oil. While honey oil got its name from the typical golden appearance of hash oil, but this is not to say that all variants of hash oils appear golden in color. The names of hash oils usually refer to either their consistency/look, or by the extraction method. Other similar names for hash oil include week oil, cannabis oil, or BHO oil. Most of these oil products listed above are golden to amber in color or can even be dark brown. They may be either opaque or translucent.

Due to the extreme potency of hash oil, concentrates are usually sold only in small quantities, and cost much more than other marijuana products.

What are the Benefits of Hash Oil?

What are the Benefits of Hash Oil?

The benefits of hash oil are known to be similar to the benefits commonly associated with marijuana. Hash oil is also known for triggering a sense of euphoria. It helps in the treatment of pain, inflammation, and nausea.

Due to the fact that hash oil is a more powerful form of marijuana, the effects of hash oil also tend to be stronger. As a result of this, it works to provide great symptoms relief in people who use marijuana for treating certain medical conditions, such as cancer(3) or chronic pain.(4)

However, there is a lack of research behind what are the unique benefits of only has oil as compared to other cannabis products.

Are There Any Side Effects of Hash Oil?

The side effects associated with hash oil are the same that are linked with marijuana. However, because hash oil is a more potent marijuana product, the side effects of hash oil are also more severe.

Some of the short term side effects of hash oil include:

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) or cyclical vomiting – The condition is marked by recurrent, severe bouts of vomiting and nausea(5)

More research is needed to understand more about the long-term and short-term side effects of using hash oil.

How is Hash Oil Used?

There are many ways in which people use hash oil.

Dabbing, the most common way of using hash oil involves the use of a special pipe for heating and vaporizing the oil. The pipe is also known as a ‘rig’ or an ‘oil rig.’ It consists of a water pipe that comes with a hollow ‘nail’ to fit into the pipe’s gauge. Some people also use a small metal plate known as ‘swing.’

The swing or nail is heated with a small blowtorch. Then a small amount of hash oil is applied to the surface with a dabber. Along with the heat, the hash oil starts to vaporize and is then inhaled through the pipe. It is typically inhaled in a single breath.

This method of using hash oil is considered to be more dangerous than other methods because of the use of a blowtorch, which increases the risk of burns.

You can also use hash oil by smoking, vaping, ingesting, or just applying it directly to the skin.

What are the Risks of Hash Oil?

Hash oil, especially illegally acquired hash oil, poses many risks. These include:

Safety: There are minimal studies available on how safe is hash oil. Due to this, there is no clarity on whether hash oil is even safe to use or not. If it is safe to use, there is no data available on what the right dosage is, and how often it should be used.

Tolerance: Hash oil contains an aggressive amount of THC. This can increase your tolerance to regular marijuana.

Potency: Hash oil is nearly five times more powerful than regular marijuana. As a result of this, hash oil is also five times more likely to cause an intense high and undesirable side effects, especially if you are a first time user.

Risk of burns: The process of dabbing is done with a small blowtorch. Using a blowtorch, that too when you are high, can increase the risk of burns.

Lung injuries: A case study done in 2019 found that there is a potential link between the use of a dabbing device and lung symptoms that are similar to those caused by pneumonia.(6) While more research is needed, but the study should still serve as a warning sign.

Chemical impurities: The market for illegal hash oil is exceptionally vast and completely unregulated, which is why there is a high risk of the oil containing dangerous levels of butane or any other chemicals.

Risk of cancer: A study conducted in 2017 found that the vapors of hash oil produced by the dabbing process contain carcinogenic substances, which increased the risk of many types of cancer.(7)

How is Hash Oil Produced?

There are many types of manufacturing processed that are used for producing hash oil, and the final form that the oil takes depends a great deal on what manufacturing process has been used. Factors such as pressure, heat, and humidity also have a role to play in determining the final form of the oil.

Marijuana concentrates can be extracted in several ways, including with the use of:

  • Ice
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Oxygen
  • Non-solvent techniques that involve drying and manually separating plant material

One such manufacturing process is the open column extraction method. This method involves passing liquid butane through a cylinder or tube that is packed with cannabis plant matter. The cannabis plant material gets dissolved in the butane, and then the solution is passed through a filter. After this, the solution is purged of butane.

This is considered to be a dangerous process because airborne butane is highly flammable and can easily catch fire from a spark or from static electricity. This can lead to a flash fire or even an explosion.

When hash oil is produced legally for commercial production, closed-loop equipment, and safety guidelines are strictly followed, thus reducing the risk significantly.

In illegal settings, though, the process of the open-column extraction method is referred to as blasting, and it has caused severe burns and major accidents, resulting in several deaths in the past.(8)

Illegally manufactured butane hash oil is also dangerous for consumers, especially if it might still contain unpurged butane.

Is Hash Oil Legal?

When you consider the legality of hash oil, then it has the same legal status as marijuana. In some states where marijuana is legal, hash oil is also legalized. In states where marijuana is only permitted for medical purposes, there hash oil is also legalized for medicinal purposes only.

The production of butane hash oil is generally illegal, even in states where marijuana production and use is legal. However, there are many states that do not have specific laws to prevent the production of butane hash oil.

It is best to check the legal status of hash oil in the state you live in before you think about using the same. It is possible to check the legal status of hash oil on the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures.(9)


Hash oil is one of the most potent forms of marijuana, and it has the highest concentration of THC as compared to other cannabis products. It is believed that hash oil also carries the same risks and benefits as marijuana, but due to the lack of research on hash oil, these are simply speculations. However, it is important to keep in mind that because hash oil is so powerful, the risks and benefits of the oil are also going to be extreme.

As marijuana and marijuana products remain illegal in many states, there are many non-standard and illicit methods of producing hash oil that have sprung up. Hash oil that is manufactured in this way without any regulatory procedures being followed poses a significant risk to consumers.


  1. Bell, C., Slim, J., Flaten, H.K., Lindberg, G., Arek, W. and Monte, A.A., 2015. Butane hash oil burns associated with marijuana liberalization in Colorado. Journal of medical toxicology, 11(4), pp.422-425.
  2. ElSohly, M.A., Mehmedic, Z., Foster, S., Gon, C., Chandra, S. and Church, J.C., 2016. Changes in cannabis potency over the last 2 decades (1995–2014): analysis of current data in the United States. Biological psychiatry, 79(7), pp.613-619.
  3. Kramer, J.L., 2015. Medical marijuana for cancer. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 65(2), pp.109-122.
  4. Jensen, B., Chen, J., Furnish, T. and Wallace, M., 2015. Medical marijuana and chronic pain: a review of basic science and clinical evidence. Current pain and headache reports, 19(10), p.50.
  5. A Galli, J., Andari Sawaya, R. and K Friedenberg, F., 2011. Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome. Current drug abuse reviews, 4(4), pp.241-249.
  6. Anderson, R.P. and Zechar, K., 2019. Lung injury from inhaling butane hash oil mimics pneumonia. Respiratory medicine case reports, 26, pp.171-173.
  7. Meehan-Atrash, J., Luo, W. and Strongin, R.M., 2017. Toxicant formation in dabbing: The terpene story. ACS omega, 2(9), pp.6112-6117.
  8. Bell, C., Slim, J., Flaten, H.K., Lindberg, G., Arek, W. and Monte, A.A., 2015. Butane hash oil burns associated with marijuana liberalization in Colorado. Journal of medical toxicology, 11(4), pp.422-425.
  9. Ncsl.org. (2019). State Medical Marijuana Laws. [online] Available at: http://www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx [Accessed 17 Dec. 2019].
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 27, 2019

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