With legalization occurring in some states, marijuana has become an acceptable social lubricant in many circles. With youth constantly chasing a greater and greater high, new methods of creating more potent substances have emerged. “Dabs”, as it is called on the street, is one of those more powerful concoctions.
Marijuana users and those looking for a more intense euphoria are often using marijuana concentrates. THC, the active chemical in marijuana that causes the high feeling, can be melted down. Marijuana concentrates can contain THC levels at 4 times the amount of regular marijuana. Concentrates are called wax, oil, budder, and shatter on the street.
How Is It Made?
There are several methods for making dabs. Often butane or other chemicals are used to extract THC from the cannabis plant. Gasses are burned off during the process, leaving behind only a waxy, brown substance. Other methods are used to make dabs involving heat and pressing marijuana between sheets of parchment paper leaving behind a bit of concentrated resin.
How Do People Use Dabs?
This highly concentrated wax is placed in electronic cigarette devices, and the vapor is inhaled. It is virtually tasteless and odorless in this form. Because of this, the drug is being used, virtually undetected. Inhaling the vapor in this manner provides an immediate intense high.
Concentrated THC is reported to create some significant side effects. Some of the traditional side effects of cannabis are present along with heightened effects attributed to the more potent levels of THC. Side effects can include:
- Rapid heartbeat
- Extreme paranoia
Dangers of Dabbing
Dab is sometimes considered the crack of cannabis. Because of the manner in which it is processed, there are many dangers associated with dabbing. Pressing butane through glass pipes to extract the oil has been known to cause explosions. Further, there is a lack of research regarding the physical effects of inhaling concentrated THC. It is believed the effects may be more addictive than using marijuana in a more traditional manner.
Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome
Prolonged use of dabs may result in cannabis withdrawal syndrome for users who attempt to stop. There are two different receptors in the brain, CB1 and CB2, which process THC, increasing the production of pleasure chemicals like dopamine. For habitual users, withdrawal symptoms can occur. Anxiety, sleep irregularities and an increased feeling of irritability are classic signs of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome.
Other Unknown Factors
There are very few studies regarding concentrated THC oil. Even proponents of marijuana use, there is controversy regarding the use of the more potent dabs. Marijuana affects brain chemistry significantly. At higher concentrations, over prolonged periods of use, long term effects are completely unknown. Other body systems may also be affected, since the chemical is filtered and processed beginning in the respiratory system, traveling immediately to the blood stream.
What If I Can’t Stop?
The psychology of addiction is tricky. Dabbing can create addiction, specifically in the habitual nature of marijuana use. With a more intense high, it is likely that users turn to dabbing to escape the realities of life. When marijuana users attempt to quit, it can be difficult to manage the ensuing emotional roller coaster. Seeking help from an addiction specialist and receiving treatment in formal rehabilitation is often the best course to begin a successful drug-free life path.
DEA (2014). What you should know about marijuana concentrates. THC Extractions. Retrieved December 11, 2016, from https://www.dea.gov/pr/multimedia-library/publications/marijuana-concentrates.pdf
Maslin, S. (2016). Chasing bigger high. Marijuana users turn to ‘dabbing’. The New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/13/nyregion/chasing-bigger-high-marijuana-users-turn-to-dabbing.html?_r=0
Stogner, J. & Miller, B. (2015). Assessing the dangers of dabbing: Mere marijuana or dangerous new trend? Pediatrics Perspective. Retrieved December 11, 2016, from https://dfaf.org/assets/docs/Assessing%20the%20Dangers%20of%20%E2%80%9CDabbing%E2%80%9D_%20Mere%20Marijuana%20or%20Harmful%20New%20Trend_.pdf