Gone are the days of simply smoking a joint to get high. There are more and more new ways to use marijuana and marijuana dabbing is one of the most potent and potentially dangerous forms of cannabis use taking place today.
What is Marijuana Dabbing?
Marijuana dabbing refers to the process of inhaling marijuana concentrates, known on the street by many names such as dabs, butane hash oil (BHO), honey oil, shatter, wax, and budder. These concentrates are created by extracting marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by a method of butane extraction.
The end product is a thick brownish-green substance, resembling ear wax, or honey — hence the street names. Marijuana dabbing or ‘blasting dabs’ is when the concentrate is placed on a heated device such as a nail or modified water pipe and the vapours released are inhaled. The result is a high dose of THC with instantaneous effects.
The process of dabbing is a relatively new form of marijuana use that has gained popularity over the past five years. Marijuana concentrates such as dabs and shatter are not chemically modified versions of marijuana that create a completely new and different drug, such as with poppy to heroin or coca to cocaine. Users are essentially still taking marijuana but at higher doses. However, marijuana dabbing does not have the same effects as smoking marijuana.
How Does Marijuana Dabbing Affect Users?
The main difference between marijuana dabbing and simply smoking marijuana is that marijuana concentrates can contain upwards of 90% THC, compared to 15% THC in an average joint. This means that the effects of dabbing are much more intense and occur almost instantaneously.
Users may experience a sense of euphoria, as well as a host of potential negative effects including panic attacks, hallucinations, paranoia, and even loss of consciousness.
Because marijuana dabbing can produce more intense effects than smoking herbal marijuana, it has become one of the latest drug abuse trends and seems to be especially popular amongst teens and young adults. There is no safe amount of marijuana abuse in teens and marijuana has been shown to have negative effects on a teens’ developing brain.
There is concern amongst police, medical doctors, and even marijuana advocates that marijuana dabbing is particularly dangerous, but researchers are just beginning to look at the effects of dabbing as compared to smoking marijuana. With increased drug potency it seems reasonable to say that there are also increased risks associated with use.
Marijuana Dabbing Dangers
There are two factors that contribute to the dangers of marijuana dabbing. First of all, producing marijuana concentrates is a dangerous process that can lead to explosions and injuries. Secondly, using potent concentrates comes with what some would say are greater risks than those generally associated with marijuana, both of which we will look at in further detail below:
1. Dangers of production.
One of the major dangers and problems associated with marijuana dabbing is the production of marijuana concentrates. The extraction process uses highly flammable butane gas — which has been known to cause fires, burns, and explosions.
The increase in explosions and house fires due to people trying to make dabs at home has brought some media attention to the dangers of this new form of marijuana abuse. Those who have been working to legalise marijuana are worried about the comparisons that are now being drawn between methamphetamine and BHO because of the dangers and injuries associated with its production.
The unregulated production of marijuana concentrates leads to end products with varying potency and various amounts of chemical residue. While most manufacturers would claim that the hash oil goes through a purification process to get rid of any remaining butane, there is no way to know how much of the chemical is left behind which means the end product is likely more toxic than its herbal counterpart.
2. Dangers of use.
The push for marijuana legalisation has led to the drug often being mislabelled as safe. The fact is that all marijuana use carries risks — and especially for teens, marijuana use is not safe.
Because dabbing takes marijuana intoxication to the next level, the risk of accidental injury increases as well as the risks of negative side effects.
There was a time when overdosing on marijuana was thought to be virtually impossible, and while not necessarily deadly dabbing has led to some of the first and most visible cases of marijuana overdose that include vomiting, passing out, and severe negative side effects. Emergency rooms are seeing more and more people for psychosis induced by marijuana dabbing.
Because each dab of marijuana concentrate is much more potent than smoking herbal marijuana, dabbing can cause tolerance to develop rapidly. This means that users will need to take more of the drug in order to get the same effects. LiveScience reports that in one of the only studies done on dabbing thus far researchers found that not only did tolerance develop more rapidly in marijuana dabbers, but marijuana withdrawal symptoms were also more severe.
Contrary to popular belief marijuana is addictive and frequent use of marijuana at high doses certainly increases the chances of developing marijuana addiction.
Marijuana Addiction and Treatment
With any drug, repeated use and abuse increases the risk for addiction. Marijuana dabbing can lead to a psychological and physical dependence on marijuana in which addicts need to keep taking more of the drug in order to function.
Marijuana addiction can cause significant problems to an individual’s mental, emotional, social, and physical health. Symptoms of marijuana addiction include increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, spending more and more time getting high, hiding and lying about marijuana use, and continued use despite financial, social, or work related consequences.
If you or someone you know is experiencing negative consequences due to marijuana use, marijuana addiction treatment may be necessary in order to recover. Addiction treatment at a drug rehab will help you cope with marijuana withdrawal symptoms as well as address your addiction holistically through various individual and group therapies. Treatment can help you to live sober and enjoy life to its fullest in long-term addiction recovery.