Should You Dab? A Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Dabs

As the movement to legalize cannabis gains traction, the search for creative ways to consume the product has intensified. While not new, over the last 4 years dabbing has become ever more popular.

There are some that argue that dabbing is damaging to the already tarnished reputation of cannabis. This is because the process is strikingly like smoking crack. Why then has dabbing become more desirable than vaping or smoking a good ol’ joint?

What are Dabs?

Dabs are a concentrated form of THC and other cannabinoids. THC being tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component in marijuana. A single dab is at least four times stronger than a regular joint and the THC is delivered in one massive dose.

This extract is a wax-like substance and is available in various forms including- shatter, crumble and Butane Hash Oil. This is then vaporized and inhaled using a dab rig. Since the extract is vaporized, dabbing is preferred among cannabis users who wish to avoid the harsh impacts of smoking.

The high concentrations of THC in dabs produce a markedly more intense experience compared to other methods of cannabis consumption.

The extraction processes

There are various extraction methods used to create a dab, each producing a somewhat different product. Butane extraction is the most common method and involves passing butane through the cannabis which then pulls the cannabinoids out of the plant.

Once this is completed the resulting liquid is evaporated and what remains is the dab. This extraction method can be performed at home and if done correctly, one is able to produce an acceptable product.

While butane itself is considered a health hazard, the amount found in most dabs is negligible.  Other extraction methods utilize ice-cold water or carbon dioxide. While these methods offer a healthier alternative to Butane, they are currently not as widespread.

The pros of dabbing

The detrimental effects of smoking are known universally and while this is a major contributor to the growing popularity of dabs, it is not the only factor that is drawing people to this product. Due to the high THC concentration of dabs, the ‘high’ itself is reported as being not only more intense but also cleaner.

Dabbing does not produce any lingering smell or taste and is said to be more effective, than smoking marijuana, in the treatment of chronic pain. Inhaling the vapors produced from dabbing delivers a high dose of THC in a quick and efficient manner.

The cons of dabbing

For the die-hard cannabis smoker, the listed pros may be enough to convince them to kick the smoking habit. But, it is worth noting that dabbing has drawbacks of its own. Due to the newness of this trend, there is not much data regarding long-term side-effects.

Luckily, a few studies have been done on dabbing and the results of these should help shed some light on the possible downsides.

While an overdose of smoking cannabis is basically impossible, the same is not necessarily true for dabbing. As mentioned, dabs have very high concentrations of THC which make overdosing a very real possibility. An overdose from dabbing is characterized by extreme paranoia, vomiting, and an elevated heart rate.

This high concentration of THC, while an attractive quality of dabs, also poses the potential problem of increasing the user’s tolerance to cannabis.

If tolerance to cannabis increases enough one may even experience withdrawal symptoms once they quit consuming the substance. Another minor concern is the harmful chemicals used in the extraction process. Generally, there are only trace amounts of these found in dabs, but this should still be considered when evaluating the safety of this product.

How do you dab

Whether the pros outweigh the cons is a choice for everyone to make for themselves. Regardless, how does the dabbing process work? The dab rig is the main piece of equipment used to deliver this knockout dose of THC. The rig is akin to a glass bong with the exception being that a rig, unlike a bong, has a nail in it.

This nail is heated up with a blow-torch and the dab is ‘dabbed’ onto the scalding iron. The rest of the process works the exact same way as a bong. The user inhales the fumes and is set to go.

If the user is not comfortable with using a blowtorch, there are electric nails available which are heated up by electricity. Vaporiser cartridges, which already contain the dab, can also be purchased which eliminates the need for a rig or blowtorch entirely.

To dab or not to dab

It is too soon to tell whether dabbing is the next frontier in cannabis culture, but evidence would suggest that it is here to stay. So, if you are keen to head out and give this dabbing a try, remember to do so with caution. While it is possible to make homemade dabs, it is inadvisable.

The chemicals used in the process can be quite devastating if handled by a novice. It is far safer to simply buy the dabs from a reputable dealer. This way you are not risking life and limb in pursuit of that glorious high.  The dab rig itself should also be of a good quality if you want to avoid any unnecessary accidents.

Lastly, remember what grandma said- ‘too much of a good thing can be a bad thing’. To fully enjoy the experience, without having to deal with the undesirable side-effects, dab in moderation.

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