Law Enforcement: New drug gaining popularity in Pine Belt

Major Tedford said he believes the drug is relatively new to the area and it has dangerous side effects. (Photo source: WDAM)
Major Tedford said he believes the drug is relatively new to the area and it has dangerous side effects. (Photo source: WDAM)

JONES COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - "Dabs" are an expensive high, but many young adults and teens are giving up the leafy green marijuana in exchange for the more high-potent narcotic.

The amounts are small and the prices are high, coming in at nearly triple the amount someone would pay for plant-based marijuana.

"The main reason I smoke is to get high. And for me, there is no comparison. Dabs just get me a lot higher," one user from California said.

Dabs, also known as marijuana wax, honey oil and budder, are highly concentrated extracts of cannabis. This potent high is exploding across the nation as a reformed way to smoke marijuana.

People in the Pine Belt are shy about sharing their experience when dabbing, but many users in in Mississippi are getting high on the product sent directly from states where marijuana is legal, like California and Colorado, according to law enforcement.

"The amount of time I stay high from one dab compared to the amount of time I stay high from one bong hit is not even comparable, not even close," said the California user. "A dab will keep me nice and high for a good 45 minutes to an hour. A bong hit keeps me relatively stoned for 15, 20 minutes, if that."

While users may think smoking dabs is validated and the new go to high, WDAM takes a look behind the scenes into what this drug really is.

"Pure THC. So, it causes the psychosis, the hallucinations, those types of things because of the purity of it," said Major Jamie Tedford of the Jones County Sheriff's Department.

The tool to start the process is a butane torch with flame temperatures heating up to more than two thousand degrees Fahrenheit.

"They will actually take the propane, they will use that to heat the pipe up first before they put the dab on," Tedford said.

The method Tedford describes is meticulous, and the instrument used is better known as an oil rig.

Tedford has spent more than 20 years in law enforcement, and more than 10 of those years fighting the war on drugs in elite, special-trained narcotic units. He said dabbing is an extremely dangerous way of inhaling marijuana, but users are making the switch to dabs because it contains a much higher concentration of THC than the plant, as much as 70 to 98 percent THC.

"You're having to break down the product itself to be able to ingest it," Tedford said. "Because there are so many different components, it's a manufacturing process and you could actually be charged with manufacturing, depending on what type of paraphernalia you have and what step you are caught in. However, this amount right here [about three grams] is well, well over the limit to be charged with a felony."

According to Mississippi law, it's a DEA Scheduled 1 Controlled substance, in the same class as heroin. Tedford said it's critical parents are aware and can recognize the telltale signs of possible use. One indicator is small, colorful tie-dye containers.

"This just looks like a lip balm case," Tedford said. "So, if you saw it in your daughter's purse or in your son's truck or something like that, most people wouldn't even recognize it. They use little canisters like this to sell it in. Most parents would overlook this. I believe it is relatively new here to our area and our younger people in Mississippi."

Here's what you need to watch for in a possible user: mood swings, abnormal anger outbursts and a sudden raspy voice change.

"The vapors off this have to be really, really hot," Tedford said. "So that impacts the windpipe, your lungs and those types of things. So if the parents will start watching raspiness, especially in a female you will hear that voice change. But, you could pick up on that and maybe deter it or drug test your kids and those types of things before it got to a point where they were actually hooked on it."

While users claim it's a new electrifying high, it's illegal and can be addicting.

"The side effects of it are unbelievable as far as the trips that it causes you," Tedford said. "We actually hear of people overdosing to the point of putting them in the hospital because of the psychosis trips, hallucinating, those types of things, including shortness of breath and thinking someone is after you. It's because of the potency of the THC in it."

The Jones County Sheriff's Department wants you to be aware of this drug and it's dangers. If you feel your child is using or you know someone who is, the Jones County Sheriff's Department is open if you have questions, concerns or would like to leave a tip.

That number is 601-426-3147. There is also a text line available for those not wanting to talk. You can text 601-551-8477.