Across the nation, there has been an ever-growing increase in popularity of e-cigarettes, vaporizers, and vape pens– thin, compact vaporizers that resemble a pen. Vape pens use cartridges, or “carts,” that produce vapor from an oil that is then inhaled by the user. Many of these vaporizers typically contain a mixture of flavors and various nicotine levels. However, along with the growing popularity of vaporizer usage, it has become increasingly more common for cartridges  to include concentrates of cannabis (specifically THC concentrates). THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a major psychoactive part of the maijuana plant. These small amounts of THC concentrates are often referred to as “dabs,” and vaporizers containing THC are called “dab pens.”

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “marijuana concentrates contain extraordinarily high THC levels ranging from 40 to 80 percent THC amounts. This form of marijuana can be up to four times stronger in THC content than high grade or top shelf marijuana, which normally measures around 20 percent THC levels.”1 Many people are under the impression that smoking a “dab pen” and smoking a “joint” are relatively the same thing. I mean, they are both just weed right? Wrong. In the State of Texas, THC concentrates are not considered marijuana, but instead are categorized as a “controlled substance”. THC concentrates are classified as Penalty Group 2 Drugs, which is always charged as a felony offense, no matter the amount in possession. Punishment for being in possession of a Penalty Group 2 drug can range from two years in jail with a $10,000 fine all the way up to life in prison with a $50,000 fine.

When caught with plant marijuana, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony will depend on the amount you have. In Texas, possession of marijuana weighing over 5 pounds is a felony charge. On the other hand, when it comes to THC concentrates, it does not matter how much one possesses, it is automatically considered a felony offense. In fact, if you are caught with an edible, such as a gummy or brownie, you will be charged for the weight of the entire edible, not just for the amount of THC actually in it.

Usage of THC products has become an escalating problem among today’s youth, especially because they are not aware of how serious it can really be to be caught with a “dab pen.” Just being in possession of one can result in you being charged with a serious criminal offense that changes your life forever. A conviction on a drug-related criminal charge can affect a multitude of life aspirations, such as pursuing higher education, landing a job, being accepted into housing, maintaining a stable financial situation, and so much more. Before deciding to own your own dab pen or vaporizer, consider the consequences, and ask yourself, “is it worth the risk?”