DEA warns about potent marijuana-based ‘wax’ substance in central Indiana

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By Kendall Downing

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A highly potent marijuana-based product is becoming the new drug of choice for teens and young adults. It's called wax and loaded with THC, the mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana. Wax has much more THC than you'd find in a joint. That's why the DEA is sending out an alert here in Indiana, because the substance is showing up here.

Police found wax in a big drug bust in Bloomington earlier this week, part of a joint investigation with IMPD. The DEA said Friday wax has also been spotted in Marion County. It has the consistency of lip balm and can even be stored in those little containers.

"We're starting to see it. It's predominantly found on the west coast, but it sure seems to be coming this way," said Dennis Wichern, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, with the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Wichern said wax labs present the most danger. Those that make it soak marijuana leaves in solvent and reduce them down to an oil. They dry the substance out to get the waxy consistency and smoke it or ingest it.

"The danger is really the volatility. Many of them have exploded because the solvents are extremely flammable. Many people are trying to make it in their own house, who get burned from it," he said.

The wax gives the user an extreme high, but it isn't cheap, at least four times more expensive than regular marijuana, according to the DEA. The agency is still trying to determine how it's priced.

"All the drugs have evolved," said Wichern.

The new war on wax comes as the Feds are fighting synthetic drugs, which have rapidly emerged, targeted toward young people. There are more than 200 varieties of synthetic substances out there now. A Johnson County teen, 16-year-old Samuel Motsay, died in May after taking the synthetic substance N-bome.

"We have to get the information out that anything you put in your body that you don't really know what it's made of, where it came from, it can often be deadly, in the case of Samuel Motsay and the N-Bome," said Wichern.

Wichern said that's why knowledge is key, especially for parents, as the drugs that are hot just keep on changing.

For information on how to talk to your child about drug use, you can find a tool kit here provided by the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids.

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