ROBBINSDALE, Minn. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies in Minnesota are warning of a rise in seizures of a potent marijuana concentrate.
Authorities say marijuana wax has a stronger concentration of THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. The substance comes in the form of powders, oils and solids that look like peanut brittle or honeycombs.
“We are extremely concerned about the rise in marijuana wax,” Plymouth Police Chief Mike Goldstein said at a news conference Friday held by the Northwest Metro Violent Crime Enforcement Team to highlight the dangers.
Goldstein said authorities want the public, especially parents, to know that the wax looks nothing like traditional leafy marijuana, the Star Tribune reported.
“We also need to understand how incredibly dangerous this byproduct is,” Goldstein said.
The wax, also known by street names such as skittlez and shatter, is making its way to Minnesota from states such as Colorado, Washington and California, where marijuana is legal in some form, Cmdr. Robert Topp said.
“It’s becoming more pervasive,” Topp said. “We see it at every marijuana search warrant we execute.”
In the first three months of 2016, the team — made up of eight law enforcement agencies in the northwest suburbs of Hennepin County — has seized more than 12 pounds of marijuana concentrates with a street value of more than $300,000. The team seized just a quarter of a pound in all of last year.
Statewide, the 23 law enforcement teams that focus on weapons offenses and felony-level narcotic crimes seized 27 pounds of wax last year, up from 0.4 pounds in 2011.
Marijuana wax has a higher concentration of THC — 30 percent to 90 percent, compared with 1 percent to 5 percent in traditional cannabis form, said Dr. JoAn Laes, an addiction medicine expert at Hennepin County Medical Center. With its high levels of THC, wax can cause hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis and impaired judgment.
“People don’t understand that the high THC content can lead to the intense psychological and physical effects, more than what they are expecting,” she said.