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  • Post Time POSTED JUNE 12, 2018
What is dabbing?
 
Inhaling the vapours of marijuana concentrates as a way to medicate has been in fashion for at least a decade, but advanced hash oil extraction methods have led to a flood of cannabis concentrates with which to medicate.
 
Those with even a passing knowledge of cannabis have likely heard the term “dabbing” by now, but it's no shame at all if not. It's a consumption method that has ramped up its popularity since the early 2000s, but never more so since imminent legalization has been on the lips of North Americans. Now, we see an industry rife with concentrates, made from advanced extraction methods, and a whole lot of fans for this new age vape technique.
 
What is a dab and how is it made?
 
The term "dab" refers to a dose of concentrated cannabis, which comes in the form of shatter, which is placed on a very hot nail (in either quartz or titanium) until it creates a vapour. The vapour is then pulled through a bong-like contraption called a rig, and that entire action is called dabbing.
 
Dabs are not so different than smoking dry cannabis flower in that the therapeutic properties are locked in cannabinoid-rich trichomes from the flowers of the plant. The sticky extracted oil that returns from this process is called butane hash oil and can test as high as 80% in cannabinoids.1
 
The practice of dabbing is completed using conductive heat to turn cannabis concentrates into vapour, which is taken in through the lungs. Dabbing can look a little intimidating, with the extra equipment and the use of a torch to heat up the nail, but it can be a safe way to consume a potent dose of cannabis quickly for those who know something about combustion and heat temperatures. The “hot plate” of a dab rig is a metal nail heated to extremely high temperatures using a small blowtorch. At 900 to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, the nail is hotter than a frying pan and combustion occurs when the extracted material is dropped onto the hot plate.
 
 
The medical benefits of dabbing
 
Concentrates have unique benefits for medical patients, but it has to be said that dab production is going through an awkward phase right now due to product safety concerns. Dabs are ideal for those who require a potent dose of fast-acting medicine. Patients with chronic pain or extreme nausea are good candidates for dabbing because they can medicate in seconds without the harm of combusted material entering their lungs.
 
The downside to dabbing cannabis extracts
 
Most forms of cannabis consumption have one downside or another. Smoking mainly gets a bad rap because it subjects the consumer to charred plant matter. But dabbing isn't necessarily innocent when it comes to cannabis consumption. While the temperature can be controlled, to create a medicated vapour, there are other elements to extracts that can make these products questionable.
 
Butane hash oil, or BHO, is produced using butane as a solvent, which can become a genuine danger to patients who are sensitive to other everyday products, like scent and flavour extracts, where butane and alcohol may be present. To avoid the issue altogether, solvent-less extracts can be used instead of BHO.
 
The actual process of dabbing can look intimidating already, especially with the addition of a blow torch—about the size of a kitchen torch used for baked Alaska and crème brûlée. Of course,  there are some dab rigs that don’t need a torch, like personal portable dab rigs that use lithium-ion batteries to heat coils.
 
Why dabs can be therapeutic
 
The therapeutic benefit of dabbing is that it delivers concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes in one thick vapour cloud. Reports suggest that dabbing can be ideal for intense pain, insomnia, and simply relaxing. One of the realities about dabs is that their super-potency floods the endocannabinoid system, causing some users to experience uncomfortable highs, paranoia and increased tolerance to marijuana.
 
The variety of flowers, the technology employed to obtain the products, the chemistry and craftsmanship that goes into them is exceptionally advanced. No doubt, it’s an exciting time to see what innovators will come up with next: more predictable outcomes, exact dosages, and ways to titrate micro doses more easily. For now, dabbing will continue to present patients one of the most effective ways to medicate with cannabis concentrates.
 
References:
1. "What are the different types of cannabis concentrates?" https://coloradoharvestcompany.com/cannabisnews/different-types-cannabis-concentrates/

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