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Hashish: What is It?

Hashish may sound like an exotic word to the average American. When people find out it’s a drug, they might assume it’s some strange and foreign substance. In reality, hashish is a form of marijuana. Though it’s more concentrated than typical herbal cannabis, it causes the same effects as a typical marijuana high, which can vary depending on the dose and individual experience. However, as a concentrated form of marijuana, it can cause more pronounced and extreme effects if taken in large doses. Plus, it’s often used illicitly which can be unpredictable.

How dangerous is this drug, and what are its effects? Learn more about the mental and physical effects of hashish use and how you can avoid dangers and address the consequences.

WHAT IS HASHISH?

Hashish, or hash, is a drug that’s made from the resin from a cannabis plant. Resin is a sticky, viscous substance that is produced by all kinds of plants, like tree sap. Hash resin is extracted from the cannabis plant and concentrated to create a potent form of marijuana, typically for recreational use. Hash resin is compressed into bricks or balls of concentrated hash. Then small portions are broken off and smoked. Hash doesn’t burn easily on its own, so it’s usually mixed with other plant matter like cannabis herbs or tobacco.

Like any form of cannabis, hash has several active chemical ingredients, including many cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

However, sifted, purified, and concentrated hash is more potent than typical herb marijuana. Users often use a small amount at a time to avoid extreme effects like excessive drowsiness, unsettling hallucinations, or paranoia.

While herbal marijuana is more common in the United States, hash is more popular in Europe and Asia. It’s unclear where hashish originated, but early reference to this comes from India and Egypt. Before smoking became common practice in the 1500s, hashish was eaten, which had more mild effects. The active ingredients are less easily absorbed by the intestines and less makes it into the bloodstream.

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THE EFFECTS OF HASHISH

Since hashish and herbal marijuana share the same active ingredients, their psychoactive effects will be extremely similar if not identical. Hashish has both acute effects that occur right after you take it and the long-term effects of frequent use. People typically use hashish to achieve positive, relaxing feelings or to stimulate social interactions. Some of the desired effects of hashish include:

  • Relaxation
  • Euphoria
  • A general feeling of well-being
  • Enhanced emotions
  • A feeling that time is moving slowly
  • Lethargy
  • Apathy
  • Increased drive to socialize

However, like most drugs, hashish has some negative side effects that are common and others that are less common. Negative side effects may include:

  • Sensory distortions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Slowed breathing or hypoventilating
  • Loss of motor control
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Paranoia or panic
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of decision-making skills

Studies show that hashish can also cause panic reactions, toxic psychosis, and schizophrenia, but instances of extreme reactions are rare.

WHAT ARE SET AND SETTING?

Set and setting is an idea that’s popular in drug using culture, especially when it comes to psychedelic drugs. The term was coined by psychologist and psychedelic drug advocate, Timothy Leary. The term refers to the phenomenon in which the mindset and the setting that you use a drug affects the experience of the high. Using a psychedelic drug in a loud, disruptive setting while you are anxious, annoyed, or depressed can lead to a bad trip or an overall negative experience.

Hashish isn’t a quintessential example of a psychedelic drug, and in small doses, it may have no psychedelic effects at all.

However, in some people, higher doses can lead to things like color enhancement, internal and external hallucinations, and auditory distortions, which are often characteristic of psychedelic drugs. Using hashish in higher doses can potentially cause a “bad trip,” especially if you are using it in a disruptive setting or in a negative mindset.

Bad trips can range from uncomfortable to terrifying. Particularly bad experiences may lead to lasting traumatic feelings, though extreme reactions are rare.

HOW DANGEROUS IS HASHISH?

Hashish, like other forms of marijuana, can cause some negative and even dangerous effects in some cases. Hashish may be especially harmful to adolescents that take the drug. Studies have shown that heavy marijuana use among adolescents can lead to poor school performance, higher dropout rates, increased welfare dependence, and a higher likelihood to be unemployed. Early exposure to marijuana may also lead to more drug use and addiction later in life.

Cannabis use is also linked to the development of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia. But this is likely due to pre-existing, latent schizophrenia, rather than being completely caused by marijuana use. Still, hashish can be extremely dangerous to use if you have a history of psychosis or other mental health problems.

Sources

Bradford, A. (2017, May 18). What is THC? from https://www.livescience.com/24553-what-is-thc.html

Hartogsohn, I. (2017, January 1). Constructing drug effects: A history of set and setting – Ido Hartogsohn, 2017. from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2050324516683325

Tennant Jr., F. S., MC, & Groesbeck, J., MC. (1972, July 01). Psychiatric Effects of Hashish. from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/article-abstract/490702

Weir, K. (2015, November). Marijuana and the developing brain. from https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain

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