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Wanna get really high? Take a dab in the world of concentrates

Dabbing, once considered an outcast subculture in the cannabis world, has become more user-friendly. Illustration: George Wylesol

Dabbing, once considered an outcast subculture in the cannabis world, has become more user-friendly. Illustration: George Wylesol

Dabbing, consuming a cannabis concentrate using a vaporizing device, has moved into the mainstream as companies produce high-THC concentrates

Last modified on Mon 17 Sep 2018 11.02 BST

Concentrates, a rapidly growing segment of the legal marijuana market, reduce the plant to its chemical essence. The point is to get as high as possible. And it works.

Manufacturing concentrates involves using solvents like alcohol, carbon dioxide and other chemicals to strip away the plant’s leaves and then processing the potent remains. The final products can resemble cookie crumbles, wax and translucent cola spills.

The final product from manufacturing concentrates can resemble cookie crumbles, wax and translucent cola spills. Illustration: George Wylesol

A standard method of concentrate consumption, known as dabbing, uses vaporizing devices called rigs that resemble bongs, but instead of a bowl to hold the weed, there’s a nail made from titanium, quartz or a similarly sturdy material. The dabber heats the nail with a blowtorch and then uses a metal tool to vaporize a dab of concentrate on the nail.

Common sense suggests a dabbing habit could be more harmful than an ordinary marijuana habit, but the research is limited. Visually, the process is sometimes compared to smoking strongly stigmatized drugs like crack and crystal methamphetamine.

For years, dabbing has been considered an outcast subculture within the misfit world of cannabis. With so many companies angling to associate themselves with moderate use for functional adults, many want nothing to do with dabbing.

But as cannabis consumption has moved into the mainstream, dabbing has followed. Today a number of portable devices aim to deliver the intense high of dabbing concentrates in a more user-friendly way. At cannabis industry parties, there’s often a “dab bar” where attendants fire up the rigs, and wipe off the mouthpieces after each use. Machines called e-nails allow users to set a rig’s exact temperature to maximize vapor and flavor. On YouTube, there’s a lively competition among brain surgeons and rocket scientists to see who can inhale the heftiest dab.

Dabbing, consuming a cannabis concentrate using a vaporizing device, has moved into the mainstream as companies produce high-THC concentrates

Just Think Twice

What are marijuana concentrates?

Also known as: 710 (the word “OIL” flipped and spelled backwards), wax, ear wax, honey oil, budder, butane is hash oil, butane honey oil (BHO), shatter, dabs (dabbing), black glass, and errl.

What is it?

A marijuana concentrate is a highly potent THC- (Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrated mass that looks like honey or butter. For that reason, it’s often called “honey oil” or “budder” on the street.

How potent is this form of marijuana?

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.

How is it abused?

One form of abuse occurs orally by infusing marijuana concentrates in various food or drink products. Smoking remains the most popular form of ingestion by use of water or oil pipes.

Many abusers of marijuana concentrates also prefer using an e-cigarette/vaporizer because it is smokeless, odorless and easy to hide. The user takes a “dab” of the concentrate, then heats the substance using the e-cigarette/vaporizer, producing vapors that ensure an instant high.

Using an e-cigarette/vaporizer to ingest marijuana concentrates is commonly referred to as “dabbing” or “vaping.”

What are the effects of using marijuana concentrates?

Being a highly concentrated form of marijuana, the effects upon the user may be more psychologically and physically intense than plant marijuana use.

To date, long term effects of marijuana concentrate use are not yet fully known; but, we do know the effects of plant marijuana use. These effects include paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks, and hallucinations.

Additionally, the use of plant marijuana increases one’s heart rate and blood pressure. Plant marijuana users may also experience withdrawal and addiction problems.

Marijuana Facts:

In 2017, 22.9% of high school seniors used marijuana in the past 30 days compared with 9.7% who smoked cigarettes. Source: NIDA, 2017 Monitoring the Future Survey

Measured in the MTF survey this year, the use of electronic cigarettes (vaping) to use marijuana. Reporting use in the past month:

  • 1.6 percent of 8th graders
  • 4.3 percent of 10th graders
  • 4.9 percent of 12th graders

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.