If you’re involved with cannabis at all, whether recreationally, medically, or from a business standpoint, then you either know about or have probably heard of “dabbing.” Smoking dabs as a method of consumption has been around for at least a decad
e, but the advent of more advanced extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates that have boosted dabbing’s popularity.
A dab usually refers to a dose of concentrate that is heated on a hot surface, usually a nail, and then inhaled through a rig.
While there are valid concerns to be addressed about the safety of the production and potency of popular concentrates, this new trend isn’t all bad. Let’s look at the breakdown on the issues surrounding dabs and how it might be a good thing for the legalization movement.
What are Dabs and How are They Made?
Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis that are made by extracting THC and other cannabinoids using a solvent like butane or carbon dioxide, resulting in sticky oils also commonly referred to as wax, shatter, budder, and butane hash oil. While it’s possible to extract non-psychoactive compounds like CBD, THC is what’s behind the potent effects of dabs, making them the fastest and most efficient way to get really, really high.
What are the Perceived Dangers of Dabbing?
Dabbing can be dangerous. Well, it’s the extraction that can be dangerous. The process can be tricky, but thanks to online forums and videos, many amateurs think they have mastered the technique enough to try it on their own. In cases when things go well, the product is probably still sub-par. When things go bad, houses explode. A few explosions by ignorant DIYers and suddenly cannabis is being talked about in the same cautionary terms as meth. Which is not good for legalization in new states.
The actual process of dabbing can look quite scary. Glass bongs and oddly-named substances being heated with blow torches have led to the comparison that dabs are the “crack” of cannabis. It’s not that BHO has any similarity to these drugs, but to the un-educated, unless it’s a a creme brulee, lighting something with a torch never looks tasteful.
Are Dabs Bad for You? Side Effects of Dabbing Cannabis Concentrates
Dirty oil that may contain chemical contaminants that could present health hazards to consumers. If the concern is butane, the dangers are most likely minimal since it already occurs in everyday products such as scent and flavor extracts. Whether or not the equipment used in the extraction process is adding additional contaminants is a more viable question. When done correctly, these extras can be avoided, so as is the case with growing cannabis, it’s best to leave it to those who know what they’re doing.
One of the scariest facts about dabs is that thanks to the super-concentrated power of BHO, for the first time ever you can actually overdose on cannabis. While still not lethal, taking more than your personal limit of dabs can lead to uncomfortable highs and sometimes even passing out. After all the chanting that “you can’t overdose on marijuana,” concentrates could be undermining advocates’ message of safety. There have also been reports of more intense withdrawal symptoms for dabbers, but again, the information is limited.
What are the Medical Benefits of Dabbing?
The biggest positive of concentrates are that they give a powerful dose of medication to those who truly need it. Patients dealing with severe or chronic medical conditions say that dabbing is the fastest and most effective way to administer the medication. The amount of buds that would have to be smoked or vaporized to get the same effect is just unfeasible for some patients who need potent medicine quickly.
The safety issues associated with making extracts are real, but they can be easily controlled in a professional environment. Professional extractors eschew the dangerous “open” extraction method that can be done at home and instead choose closed extraction, which is safer but requires more sophisticated equipment.