Smoking Concentrated Marijuana, Known as Dabbing, Is All the Rage
Smoking concentrated marijuana oil is exploding in popularity, with many cases nationwide of amateur chemists experiencing explosions in their homes. Manufacturing and use of the substance comes with risks not seen with "normal" pot: Scorched skin when using the red-hot smoking apparatus is inevitable, aficionados say.
Ray Stern A gram of butane- extracted marijuana concentrate.
Longtime marijuana advocates and High Times magazine have expressed concern, noting that contaminants in the product are hazardous and that some smokers — especially novices — may pass out after taking a hit.
Explosions, blowtorches, super-intense highs, interstate smuggling: The negatives have been adding up, and pro-legalization activists fear a backlash that could damage their cause.
Yet dabbing, the current name for the activity that became widespread only in the past few years, isn't a fad that will pass anytime soon. It's replacing typical marijuana smoking for an increasing number of medical and recreational users.
In Colorado, where marijuana is legal under state law for adults 21 and older, concentrates have skyrocketed in popularity at state-regulated stores. Extracts can account for about 40 percent of sales at California dispensaries, New Times' sister paper the LA Weekly reported this month.
The sale of concentrates at state-authorized dispensaries in Arizona seems poised for exponential growth because of a recent ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper. County Attorney Bill Montgomery and other prosecutors have warned that Arizona law prohibits extracts even when sold or used under 2010's voter-approved Medical Marijuana Act, but Cooper declared in a March 21 ruling that the act "authorizes qualifying patients to use extracts, including CBD oil, prepared from the marijuana plant."
The court case in question was a lawsuit by the family of Zander Welton, an East Valley boy whose seizures have been lessened by the use of marijuana concentrates, which he takes orally. Cooper's lawsuit, however, affects all the state's 45,000 registered medical-marijuana patients, and certainly a portion of them prefer concentrates if given a choice. Some state-authorized dispensaries already sell such concentrates as hash oil, sources say. Others may do so in the aftermath of Cooper's ruling, although some businesses are waiting to see whether authorities appeal.
Learning about dabbing requires a new vocabulary: The substance to be dabbed simply may be called "dabs." Or it may go by "earwax," "shatter," or "BHO (butane hash oil)," depending on how it's made. A bong becomes a "dabbing rig," the flat bowl a "skillet." A drop of gooey oil or chunky solid matter is vaporized by placing it onto the red-hot skillet with a "nail," a small rod sometimes made of glass or titanium.
Like in regular marijuana, the active ingredient in dabbing is THC, although oil is much more potent. Users say the effect is a familiar THC buzz, but one that's much more intense.