The Importance of Safety While Dabbing

Concentrated extracts sometime referred to as “BHO” (butane hash oil) or “wax” is becoming a popular way of consuming cannabis. Some patients have developed such a high tolerance to THC that a concentrate like wax can offer less smoking or bud flower consumption. This process. It is most commonly referred to as “dabbing,” because you’re taking a “dab” of the concentrate.

The concentrated extracts or “wax” can be made from butane, C02, cold water, or dry ice. The delivery method can be by electronic vaporizer or by titanium nail and torch to vaporize the wax and be consumed by glass like a bong or bubbler. Many people are on the fence about the long term effects of consuming butane hash oil or “honey oil.”

This product is also being used among edible makers, therefore it is very important to know what’s in your medicine. While butane is a naturally occurring gas, our bodies were never made to consume butane, and not all extracts are purged the same. Regardless of the debate on the long term health effects of consuming BHO, there’s a continuous draw at every event to “dab.”

Injuries from dabbing do happen. I’ve seen quite a few at multiple Cannabis Cups, especially the most recent Denver 2014 Cup where several people got injured from dabbing. Patients don’t realize that hash, a cold water extract, is ten times more concentrated than bud flower, and wax is four times more concentrated than hash, meaning wax is 40 times more concentrated than bud. In other words, one “dab” is like taking 40 hits from a pipe or joint all at once.

Most ‘newbies’, or low tolerance weed smokers that come to Colorado thinking they can handle it, don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

I recently attented one event with 60,000 people coming through and the medical control of the get together was seriously lacking. On both days of the cup in Denver I witnessed casualties of dabbing go down. One older man dabbed, passed out and ended up hitting his head on the pavement causing bleeding from his head. People were screaming, “MEDIC!,” and no one responded as if the screams fell on deaf ears. This horrific scenario began to repeat itself over and over again. At least four people who dabbed, passed out and hit their heads. As disturbed as I was watching the elderly man seizure in a pool of his own blood, I didn’t feel right taking pictures of the scene at the time.

Last year at Seattle’s cup one of my best friends became a casualty of dabbing as one of her cannabis associates thought it would be fun to giver her a full gram dab, when she had never dabbed before. Immediately she began suffering a severe panic attack, left the event for the car, proceeded to vomit nothing but stomach acid, and passed out for five straight hours. Needless to say, she never felt the same about dabbing again. At last year’s, first ever recreational cup in Denver, there were contests on who can dab the most. Whoever got the most dab stickers for each dab won some product. The obvious side effect to this dangerous game was witnessing people barely able to stand up straight, drooling, while being incoherent as if they were on heroin.

In previous Cannabis Cups put on by High Times there were strict rule for booths that offered free dabs, it seems the rules are becoming more relaxed endangering the safety of the attendees. Below I’ve reiterated what rules used to exist for booths at the Cannabis Cups, in addition I’ve added a few more tips for ‘newbies’ to dabbing.

1. Dab while sitting
2. Always have water
3. Don’t try to impress
4. Don’t hold the hit
5. If you can’t clear it, don’t.


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