Is Dabbing Dangerous?
3 min

Is Dabbing Dangerous?

3 min
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Dabbing - a form of ingesting cannabis extracts has gotten a bad reputation. Are the dangers real?

Dabbing is a catch-all term used to describe the procedure of melting cannabis concentrate over a heat source and inhaling the vapour, has increased in popularity over the last few years. So have the media articles on its “dangers.”

Despite the attention, however, the fuss over dabbing, if not the production of it, actually mixes apples and oranges.

While there are certainly issues that users need to be aware of, a great deal of the fuss over concentrates themselves is unwarranted. Dabbing is certainly not, as its critics maintain, a form of “marijuana crack”.


Crumble, shatter, wax

Extracts are sometimes known as “shatter, wax, crumble" or even “honey oil”. However even this generalization is misleading. There are several kinds of marijuana extracts, including hash, CO2 oil and a number of tinctures made through alcohol extractions on the market. However, the most popular “concentrate” at the moment is also commonly referred to as “butane hash oil” (or BHO).

BHO is manufactured by exposing cannabinoids to flammable hydrocarbons like propane or butane gas in a closed cylinder. Evaporating the gas away leaves a highly potent residue that is then commonly smoked or vaped (although new products are available every day that allow users also ingest and even rub them on the body). That said, all the fuss of course, has focussed on the kinds of concentrates that are smoked or vaped.

BHO butane hash oil
While the process is not new, concentrates of all kinds are rapidly becoming the “next big thing” among both recreational and medical users alike. When made properly and consumed responsibly, extracts can deliver a powerful and potent high, if not function as a powerful pain killer.

However, because of their popularity, not to mention the number of rising and dramatic accidents involving novice producers over the past few years, both the extracts themselves, as well as the use of them have become a hotly debated topic.


Production of concentrates is not a simple matter. Consumers of hash oil or any other kind of concentrate should buy their stash from professionals who only utilize pesticide free marijuana as a source, and further, only use approved production techniques (which also helps insure the purity of the product itself). Inexperienced amateurs should never try making the substance at home. It is not only very dangerous, but potentially lethal. Those who try to extract THC through open, homemade production systems, can cause unintended and very dangerous explosions.

The rise in accidents from amateur production efforts in fact, is what has caused a great deal of the media attention recently. In Colorado, the situation has become so out of hand that the state passed a law mandating federal charges for home production. The British police have also stepped up their efforts against home production of the substance. Over the last two years, according to a report on the BBC, there have been two British deaths and 27 injuries directly related to the production of BHO.


Mini Oil Pipe Inline Percolator

The reason that extracts and concentrates are so popular is that they are much more potent than regular cannabis or even hash. The THC that is ingested via the same is between 50 to 90% pure. The high is described as “euphoric”.

Extracts (or dabs) are commonly consumed in a glass water pipe (rig) and vaporized with the use of a “nail” and a blowtorch that vaporizes the substance, which users then inhale. They can also use an e-cigarette-like device (a vape pen).

In the studies that have been conducted to date, the process of consuming dabs themselves is no more dangerous than smoking a joint, but only if the user is consuming properly made concentrate and not overdoing it. Dabbing delivers a much stronger concentration of THC. Because of its higher punch, users also develop a higher tolerance much more quickly. Medical studies conducted to date do not show any more danger from “addiction” from dabbing than other ingestion methods.

That said, this is a concentrated substance made from plants that also could potentially contain dangerous impurities (like pesticides used in their growth). That is another reason that buying concentrates from reputable sources is so important. Impurities in both the marijuana that is used, as well as faulty production methods that do not evaporate the solvent properly are dangerous to the end user. Pesticides used to grow the marijuana actually become more concentrated via this method of ingestion, so it becomes even more important to know where and how the original substance comes from and was grown. Despite initial studies to date, there is no evidence that inhaling residual butane gas along with the concentrate is harmful to one’s health.


Dabbing produces a very intense high. While you cannot overdose on regular cannabis via a joint, there have been plenty of cases where those who vaped concentrates got a bit more of an experience than they were expecting. Users have reported passing out, getting hallucinations or just getting uncomfortably stoned.

Go slow, and dab responsibly.


Capsules infused with shatter

While the recreational use of concentrates has set off a firestorm of debate – both about its production and its potency, the most interesting applications of dabbing might yet be medical. The making of cannabis oil itself offers the ability to deliver the full medical impact of cannabis – and for specific conditions. Growing specially tailored plants for specific conditions or symptoms is often a touch and go process. The ability to turn the cannabis plant into oil, with readily testable and measurable levels of many different cannabinoids, promises a great future for cannabis as a specially tailored medical solution.


  Marguerite Arnold  

Written by: Marguerite Arnold
With years of writing experience under her belt, Marguerite dedicates her time to exploring the cannabis industry and the developments of the legalisation movement.

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