What is Dabbing?

What is Dabbing?
Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Joshua Yager M.D.

Medically Reviewed By: Dr. Joshua Yager M.D.

Dr. Joshua Yager is an Atlanta native, board-certified family practice physician who is dedicated to the health and wellbeing of his community.

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At Hope Harbor Wellness we specialize in offering a comprehensive rehab program for individuals grappling with marijuana addiction in Atlanta, GA. This includes addressing the challenges posed by marijuana dabs, which are highly concentrated forms of cannabis, delivering a potent dose of THC, the primary psychoactive component in marijuana. Such concentrations can be particularly problematic for those already facing substance use challenges.

The practice of dabbing originated in the 1960s, notably among soldiers during the Vietnam War who utilized solvents to extract THC from marijuana plants, producing a potent cannabis extract.

Discover more about marijuana dabs and explore our addiction treatment programs in Atlanta, GA, designed to assist individuals on their journey to recovery.

What is a Dab?

A “dab” refers to a highly concentrated cannabis extract known as butane hash oil (BHO), renowned for its potency. The process of making BHO involves utilizing butane, a highly flammable solvent, which poses risks of explosions and is thus deemed hazardous.

Following the extraction, butane is purged from the compound, leaving behind a sticky, resin-like substance known as a dab. Its texture may differ based on the extraction technique. BHO is also recognized by various names such as:

  • Honeycomb
  • Earwax
  • Budder
  • Honey oil
  • Wax
  • 710 (the word “OIL” flipped and reversed)
  • Shatter
  • Black glass
  • Errl
  • Live resin

Dabs can contain a THC concentration ranging from 50-80%, significantly higher than the 12-13% typically found in standard marijuana strains. This elevated potency means that a smaller quantity can induce a strong effect, but it also heightens the risk of more intense side effects.

What is Dabbing?

Dabbing refers to the method of consuming highly concentrated cannabis extracts, like butane hash oil (BHO), through various methods. Users can smoke these extracts using a water pipe, oil pipe, or glass bong. Alternatively, dabbing can be done using e-cigarettes or vaporizers, which offer a discreet, smokeless, and odorless experience. Additionally, BHO can be incorporated into food and beverages, creating potent THC-infused edibles. This consumption method is noted for delivering a more intense high compared to smoking. There have been instances where individuals experience sudden loss of consciousness and breathing difficulties after ingesting these highly concentrated THC edibles.

What are Dabs?

What Are Marijuana Dabs Made Of?

Marijuana dabs consist of a highly concentrated form of cannabis resin, obtained from the Cannabis Sativa plant. This resin is rich in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the active cannabinoid responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects. The process involves harvesting resin from the trichomes found on the plant’s flowers and leaves, which are the primary source of THC and contribute to the potent effects of dabs.

THC is the component that induces the euphoria or “high” associated with cannabis use, making dabs highly sought after for their intense effects. However, similar to substances like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and heroin, THC’s addictive potential is a concern when consumed in high concentrations found in dabs. Dabs may also contain other compounds, including:

  • Terpenes: Organic compounds typically found in plants that contribute to aroma and flavor.
  • Flavonoids: Phytonutrients present in fruits and vegetables, adding to the plant’s color and taste.
  • Pesticides: These may be present depending on cultivation practices and can range from organic to toxic chemicals.
  • Fertilizers: Used in growing cannabis, which can also vary from organic to potentially harmful substances.

The production of dab concentrates sometimes involves chemical solvents and additives, which can pose health risks. Some concentrates are enhanced with flavorings or other agents, like vegetable oil, that might lead to negative health effects if inhaled.

Although research into the health impacts of dabbing is still emerging, concerns have been raised, particularly regarding vaping—a method similar to dabbing that involves inhaling concentrated substances through e-cigarettes. This similarity has drawn attention due to several incidents linked to vaping-related illnesses and fatalities, underlining the need for caution and further study in the consumption of concentrated cannabis products.

How People Dab

Dabbing is a method that heats and vaporizes concentrated cannabis for inhalation, employing tools like dab rigs, e-rigs, and vape pens for a potent and immediate effect. This method introduces cannabinoids swiftly into the bloodstream, offering a quick onset of its potent effects.

Dab Rigs

Traditional dab rigs include a water chamber and a nail where concentrates are placed and heated, typically with a torch, to vaporize the cannabis concentrate. The heating phase can last up to a minute, followed by a cooling period before the concentrate is applied for vaporization. Though effective, this method has its drawbacks, including the risk of burns from the torch and the fragility of the glass parts, which are not ideal for mobility.

E-Rigs and Vape Pens

For those seeking convenience, e-rigs and vape pens are portable alternatives that allow for temperature adjustments and minimize burn risks. These devices streamline the dabbing process, with vape pens offering a gentler approach through diluted cannabis extracts. eNails, which forego the need for a torch, further simplify the process, allowing users to easily regulate the concentrate’s heating temperature. Both e-rigs and vape pens support customizable experiences, though users should remain mindful of the inherent risks associated with dabbing, regardless of the device used.

Side Effects of Dabbing

Dabbing presents effects markedly distinct from traditional marijuana smoking. This method entails extracting THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, and heating it to a point where it vaporizes without burning, akin to traditional cannabis flower combustion. Users inhale this vapor through a glass pipe, experiencing rapid and potent effects.

Side effects of dabbing may include:

  • Dryness in the mouth
  • Paranoia
  • Heightened anxiety
  • Dilation of pupils
  • Reddening of the eyes

Given the absence of plant materials like terpenes, which imbue cannabis with its aroma and flavor, the side effects of dabbing can be significantly more intense compared to smoking cannabis flowers.

Moreover, prolonged dabbing usage carries the risk of exacerbating mental health issues, attributable to its addictive nature and the high potency of THC concentrates. Such concentrates vigorously interact with the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, affecting memory, perception of time, pleasure, and coordination, thereby intensifying the risk of dependency and mental health complications.

Atlanta Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Health Hazards Associated with Dabbing

In the process of dab production, insufficient removal of butane can result in users inhaling harmful levels of butane gas, introducing risks such as erratic heart rhythms, disorientation, persistent headaches, nausea, muscle fatigue, and stomach discomfort.

Contamination of the concentrate with any residual chemicals from its manufacture poses a direct inhalation risk. A study in the Journal of Toxicological Science revealed that up to 80% of tested cannabis concentrate samples were contaminated with solvents or pesticides remaining from their production process. Additionally, it has been documented that the high-temperature vaporization of terpenes, natural compounds found in cannabis, may produce harmful byproducts.

The potent nature of dabs accelerates tolerance development, prompting users to consume increasingly large, riskier doses more rapidly than with traditional cannabis. The intense and rapid onset of effects from dabbing can impair judgment to a dangerous degree, leading to potentially life-endangering actions or decisions, particularly if the user’s mental health has been adversely affected.

Marijuana Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, GA

Seeking more insights on dabs and their impact? We’re here to guide you. Addiction can overwhelm and dictate your life’s course, but it doesn’t have to. At Hope Harbor Wellness, we offer specialized therapy programs tailored for marijuana addiction, including the challenges of dab addiction, alongside treatments for alcohol and heroin dependencies. For further details and to embark on your path towards healing, reach out to Hope Harbor Wellness at 678-929-6304.


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