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Of all the ongoing medicinal and recreational marijuana debates in the country, whether or not pot is addictive ranks near the top of the list. Proponents of marijuana use continue to claim that it’s safe despite higher potency products and more efficient delivery systems, which create more intense highs. Shatter, a smooth, glassy marijuana concentrate that can be up to 90 percent THC (the plant’s psychoactive chemical) is the latest and most dangerous craze to hit the legal and illegal marijuana market.
Marijuana concentrates are referred to as “Dabs” or “Dabbing.” Creating dabs is done through a process of extraction, running solvents like butane, propane or carbon dioxide through the buds of the plant to pull out cannabinoids. The solvents are then evaporated leaving the potent resins, aka Butane Hash Oil (BHO), behind.
Ingesting these concentrates involves heating a glass nail or bong with a butane torch to temperatures ranging from 575 to 625 degrees Fahrenheit. Users then add a dab and inhale the vapor. This process is why some have called Dabbing the “crack of marijuana.”
What Are The Various Forms of Dabbing Marijuana?
- Shatter is pot resin cooled into glassy sheets, similar in appearance to hardened caramel candy. It goes through a second filtration process, which removes all the fats, lipids and waxes from the plant, making it the most potent of all the dabs.
- Budder or Wax is a creamier, waxy-like resin that’s been whipped and generally has 60 to 70 percent THC levels.
- Hash Oil is a gooey, sticky resin with a viscosity and appearance similar to that of honey. It is the least refined of the dabs.
In states where medicinal or recreational marijuana is allowed, shatter and other dabs are legal. This is likely why other states, like Virginia where pot is illegal, are seeing the concentrates more and more. In one arrest, Loudon County Sheriff’s seized a truckload of packaged marijuana and discovered 15 pounds of shatter, worth more than $270,000, among the contraband.
Yet another issue with dabs is enterprising do-it-yourselfers attempting the dangerous extraction process on their own. In Colorado, where concentrate manufacturing is strictly regulated and unregistered extraction is a felony offense, amateurs have botched the complicated process and the volatile chemicals have blown up their homes in the process. In 2014, more than 30 butane explosions were attributed to hash oil production in the state.
Because dabbing is relatively new and the federal government still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I substance, very few, if any, medical studies have been done on its effects thus far. Among cannabis users, though, there is an awareness that dabbing is incredibly potent and can lead to uncomfortable highs, unconsciousness, added tolerance and intense withdrawal symptoms.
Prolonged use of marijuana is known to change the brain’s chemistry and lead to addiction. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that an estimated 4.2 million Americans are dependent on pot. Whether this is due to marijuana’s higher potency or that it’s easily accessible most anywhere in the country is yet unknown.
The message that marijuana is completely safe is simply not always the case and makes admitting they have an addiction difficult for some people. Studies have shown, however, that self-medicating with marijuana can worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety and can generally make life more difficult. The good news is that treatment for marijuana addiction can be effective in the same way it is for alcohol and other substance abuse issues.