How is Marijuana Different Than Wax and Shatter Under State Law?


Commonly referred to as Butane Hash Oil (BHO), marijuana wax and shatter are treated differently under Nebraska Law than simple possession of marijuana due to their high concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extract. THC is the chemical in marijuana plants responsible for the psychological effects on the brain.

One hit of wax or shatter is up to four times as potent as smoking a marijuana joint and leads to immediate feelings of euphoria. Because of their potency, possession of wax, shatter, and other concentrated forms of THC is charged under Nebraska state law as a felony offense.

A felony drug conviction can be devastating to your future plans and employment opportunities. Most people who are arrested for possession of a controlled substance have no prior criminal record. If you’ve been pulled over during an Interstate-80 traffic stop and are now facing felony drug charges, call the attorneys at Berry Law. The criminal defense team at Berry Law has successfully represented clients charged with transporting concentrated forms of THC through the state of Nebraska. Let their experience work for you.

What Makes Wax and Shatter Different Than Marijuana?

Wax and shatter are both derived directly from the marijuana plant. Wax looks like honey, candle wax, or lip balm, earning it street names like honey oil, butter, earwax, and honeycomb. It can be ingested using an e-cigarette, bong, or vaporizer, which gives the illusion that an individual is simply smoking a nicotine vape instead of THC.

Marijuana Wax

Wax can also be applied topically to the skin or mixed into food and ingested by mouth. It’s odorless and discrete, making it popular among teenagers and young adults. The process of ingesting wax is known as dabbing or taking a hit of dab, and it causes a hallucinogenic effect on users.

The health risks associated with wax and dabs come from the concentrated strength of the THC hitting the brain all at once. One dose of wax is estimated to be equivalent to smoking 15-20 joints. Studies have linked the use of marijuana wax to irreversible brain damage and an increased risk of accidental overdose.

Additionally, the process involved to manufacture wax is dangerous. Alcohol is required to extract oil from the marijuana leaf. Butane is most common, but isopropyl alcohol is sometimes used. Extremely high temperatures are needed to extract the wax, and the combination of combustible materials and high heat greatly increases the risk of accidental fires, explosions, and property damage, as well as personal injury and death. For this reason, state lawmakers across the country have been passing legislation to address the manufacturing of wax.

Marijuana Shatter

Shatter is similar to wax in that both are produced using high-concentration THC oil. Shatter contains more than 60 percent THC, compared to the 20 percent found in marijuana. Orange in color with a transparent, glasslike surface, shatter has a more brittle texture than wax. It looks like a slab of toffee or chips of maple syrup, and it shatters when it’s split apart for use.

Shatter undergoes the same process using extreme heat to extract oil from the marijuana leaf, but it’s more difficult to produce than wax. While wax is easier to manage, weigh and use due to its softer consistency, shatter lasts longer and is a more stable substance.

Shatter carries the same adverse health risks as wax, with particular concerns that it can cause dangerous spikes in heart rate and blood pressure, as well as increasing feelings of extreme anxiety or panic in some people.

Marijuana has been legalized in some states, but it’s still illegal in the state of Nebraska for both medical and recreational use. It doesn’t matter if the marijuana in question was purchased legally in another state. Once it crosses into Nebraska, it’s illegal to possess, transfer, or consume marijuana.

Nebraska Statute 28-416 outlines state laws regarding marijuana and THC concentrates, and the possible penalties for possessing each. Criminal charges in the state of Nebraska are classified as infractions, misdemeanors, or felony offenses.

Infractions don’t carry the possibility of jail time, while misdemeanors can involve both fines and imprisonment up to one year. Felonies are the most serious type of charge and can result in anything from probation all the way up to lengthy prison sentences. Being convicted on a felony drug charge can also lead to a loss of civil liberties, including the right to vote and own firearms.

How is Possession of Marijuana Treated Differently Under Nebraska Law Than Possession of Wax or Shatter?

Possession of marijuana can be charged as a simple infraction up to a high-grade felony depending on the amount of marijuana involved, the number of prior offenses a person has, and the form of the marijuana found. These are all factors in how possession is charged and the penalties that can be assigned if convicted.

In Nebraska, simple possession of marijuana in the form of a joint, blunt, or other small quantity less than one ounce is punishable with a $300 fine, plus court costs. On a second offense for possessing less than one ounce, charges are upped to a Class IV misdemeanor, a citation is issued, and the accused can be fined $400 and spend up to five days in jail.

For third or subsequent offenses involving less than one ounce of marijuana, a person found guilty of possession is charged with a Class IIIA misdemeanor, given a citation, fined $500, and sentenced to up to seven days in jail.

Because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug in Nebraska, individuals who are in possession of large amounts or who appear to law enforcement to be distributing it can be charged with a felony offense depending on the circumstances. Possession of marijuana becomes a felony when the amount of drugs found exceeds one pound, or in cases where police catch an individual selling it, or if law enforcement has reason to believe they intended to sell it. For example, if small baggies, scales, or other paraphernalia used for distribution are found along with the marijuana.

Concentrated forms of THC, like wax, shatter, manufactured edibles, dabs, or hash oil are classified as controlled substances and treated differently than marijuana. A controlled substance falls outside of the one-ounce threshold set by the state of Nebraska, making it a felony to possess them regardless of the amount found.

Hash is any substance that contains 10 percent or more THC. For concentrated cannabis products, possessing any quantity is a felony under Nebraska Law. Possession of hash, wax, and shatter is treated more harshly under the law than raw marijuana because of their higher THC concentration.

Police can arrest and charge someone with possessing a Schedule I controlled substance if they have reason to believe that the substance is hash, wax, or shatter. They may conduct a field test to determine if the substance found contains THC, and then later send it to the lab for confirmation on the concentration amount.

What Are Some Defenses Against Felony Drug Charges for Wax or Shatter?

If you’ve been charged with possession of wax or shatter, it’s important to secure representation immediately. Felony drug charges are a serious matter, and an experienced criminal defense attorney can protect your interests. These are some common defenses used by attorneys in felony drug cases:

Definition of Possession

When a controlled substance is found in a vehicle in which multiple passengers are riding, it may be difficult to determine who the substance actually belongs to. Law enforcement, however, has the right to arrest all parties in the vehicle for possession.

The matter of who possessed the drugs is usually sorted out later during court proceedings. Since other occupants of the same vehicle may have been completely unaware that they were riding around in a car carrying drugs, an attorney could argue that his or her client was unaware of the presence of the substance inside of the vehicle.

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that each person in the vehicle had possession or constructive possession of the substance in order to convict them.

Chemical Make-up

A defense attorney may argue that the THC concentration of the substance found was too low to qualify as hash. If the substance doesn’t qualify as a THC-concentrate, charges may be reduced to misdemeanor possession.

In some cases, the defense is unable to conduct an independent test on the evidence in question  because it was destroyed during crime lab testing. Consequently, the crime lab test results and evidence are often excluded by a trial judge.

Fourth Amendment Rights Violation

If an attorney can show that law enforcement officers violated his or her client’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal search and seizure during a traffic stop, any evidence may be suppressed and the case dismissed.

For example, if an officer engaged in profiling by stopping a driver with an out-of-state license plate at the border between Colorado and Nebraska, it may be found that the stop itself was unlawful. In that case, the court must throw out evidence that was gathered in violation of a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights.

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