Dabs are concentrated doses of cannabis. They are extremely potent, and they most effective way to get really high, really fast.
How Dabs are Made
Dabs are made by extracting THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) and other cannabinoids using a solvent such as butane. The resulting sticky oils (commonly referred to as wax, among other names) are heated on a hot surface such as a nail, and then inhaled through a dab rig.
The primary benefit of dabbing is a fast and powerful high. This makes dabbing a great delivery system for patients needing immediate and effective relief from chronic pain or nausea caused by chemo or radiation. However, few physicians recommend dabbing for these purposes.
Dabbing is easier on the lungs than smoking a joint. Smoking cannabis results in burned plant matter, resin, and hot smoke entering the lungs – obviously not great for lung health. Extracts eliminate these unwanted materials, while quickly delivering a potent dose of cannabinoids.
One interesting effect of dabbing is a booming interest in legalization activism among users in their twenties (many of whom have embraced dabbing). Cannabis extracts, along with all cannabinoids, are classified as Schedule I drugs. Schedule I drugs reportedly have no medicinal use, and a propensity for misuse (such as heroin).
The Difference Between Dabbing and Smoking
There are a few key differences between smoking marijuana and using concentrates:
Cannabis flowers are far less potent than concentrates. Bud potency ranges between 10-30% THC, while concentrates range between 50-90% THC.
If you love the flavor of certain strains of marijuana, then you can expect less aromas and flavors in concentrates. Aroma and flavor is due to the plant’s terpenes, which are the volatile oils secreted by the cannabis plant. They’re what gives marijuana its distinctive aroma. However, since terpenes are extremely sensitive to heat, it’s difficult to preserve these volatile oils during the extraction process. Some producers have begun reintroducing terpenes afterward, which gives concentrates often even more flavor and aroma than the flowers themselves.
Dosing gets trickier as potency increases, and dabbing may be partly responsible for the rise in marijuana-related ER visits. If you exceed your personal limit (which takes experimentation) you may discover that the effects can be uncomfortable at best, and often overwhelmingly intense.
However, you can start off with a CBD-rich concentrate. CBDs are compounds in marijuana that are known for their health benefits, and they don’t get you high.
Always start with a low dose to ensure a pleasant experience, as you would with edibles (which are also more potent than flowers) and work your way up in dosage.
The long-term health effects of dabbing are not known, since the practice is only about a decade old.
In general, if your aim is fast and effective delivery of THC and/or CBD, dabbing does the job – just be aware of dosing, and work within your limits to prevent nasty surprises.