New Study Among First to Examine Prevalence of Hashish Use by High School Students

hashExtracted from the cannabis plant, hashish (hash) contains concentrations of psychoactive (affecting the mind) resins.  The female flowers of the cannabis plant contain the stored resinous secretions, used to make a paste.  Marijuana, in comparison, is a mixture of the leaves, flowers and stems of the cannabis plant.  A much higher concentration of THC, the main psychoactive cannabinoid in the cannabis plant, is found in hashish.  As a rule of thumb, some estimates place the THC concentration of hashish at four times that of marijuana.

Study Overview

An April, 2015 HealthCanal article highlighted the findings of a recent study of adolescent hashish use.   New York University Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDHUR) affiliated researchers were among the first to scrutinize the prevalence of hashish use amongst U.S. high school students.

While much research has been done on teen marijuana use and its risk factors, the threat of the more potent hashish has not been isolated and examined separately as a different form of marijuana.

Published in the American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, the CDUHR study focused on high school seniors.  The data was collected during 2007 through 2011.  Worthy of note is that after 2011, recreational marijuana use was no longer illegal in all 50 US states.

The researchers identified the ways in which socio-demographic factors and the reasons cited for marijuana use related to the recent (within 12 months) use of hashish by adolescents.

Study Findings

According to CDUHR affiliated researcher, Joseph J. Palamar, Ph.D. and MPH (Master of Public Health), the study showed-up that almost one-in-ten teenagers reported ever having used hashish.  Findings also revealed that one-fourth of lifetime marijuana users reported using hashish.

Palamar noted that marijuana and hashish use showed-up shared correlations in the study; but regular marijuana-use risk factors frequently indicated much stronger hashish-use risk factors.

The study used data from Monitoring the Future (MTF).  The MTF survey is on ongoing annual study done nationwide.  Approximately 15,000 U.S. high school seniors from 130 private and public schools across 48 states are assessed on their values, attitudes and behaviors.“

The study also showed-up the factor of other illicit drug-use being a strong risk factor of hashish use.  Frequent alcohol use and regular cigarette smoking also increased the risk of hashish use.  A key finding of the study was the correlation of increased frequency of marijuana use to increased risk of hashish use.

Females were found to be consistently at a lower risk of hashish use—but not marijuana use.  This tended to support previous research findings that females generally tend to be at a lower risk of harder drug use than males.

According to Dr. Palamar, the study research revealed that the for high school students who considered themselves “hooked” on marijuana, the odds for hashish use nearly doubled.  He noted that those who feel they are hooked on the drug; and those who use it frequently are the ones “more likely to use hashish.”  He further noted that hashish use, in some instances, can serve as an indicator of marijuana-use severity.

Marijuana and hashish can be smoked, cooked in food, or vaporized.  Hash can also be converted into an oil which is a more concentrated form of the drug.  On the average, a joint (marijuana cigarette) contains about 0.5-5% THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid.  Hashish, on the other hand, is likely to contain a 2-20% concentration of THC, and some hash may go as high as a 50% concentration.

As the push for legalizing recreational marijuana use in a number of U.S. states continues, it becomes all the more important to use the research-based information in effective drug prevention education.