Dabbing Entirely Changed How I View Cannabis
Learn by Ben Karris
Jul 10, 2018 · 5 min read

I'm able to use cannabis medicinally when I need to or with recreational indulgence when I want to.

It’s safe to say dabbing is no longer taboo. Previously believed to be an “extreme” method of consumption that many likened to freebasing, it’s now perfectly commonplace. Everyone dabs. Or, at the very least, we’re starting to see concentrates as more approachable and accessible than ever. For me, dabbing has changed how I look at weed entirely. I’m able to use cannabis medicinally when I need to or with recreational indulgence when I want to. In terms of innovation, concentrates are expanding at an ever-increasing clip. Thanks to extensive research into all things extracts, consumers are now dabbing sauces, crystals, and terpene-steeped diamonds—if it sounds gorgeous, you can probably dab it.

There’s also a utilitarian aspect to concentrates that I love. As High Times reported in 2017: “Cannabis that may not be fit for consumption (because it was harvested too early, was overly dried or burned, or contains seeded buds or old or bad-quality flowers and trim, etc.) can now be broken down into its basic parts and utilized in reconstructing acceptable products.” So, instead of throwing away bud that isn’t perfect or fit to smoke, growers can repurpose it in the form of high-quality extracts.

 In recent years, the robust cannabis community on social media has given extracts new life. Videos of influencers doing dabs in their underwear extend the reach of many different concentrate brands, and while they are quite silly to watch, they normalize the consumption method in ways that were never possible before.

Extract artists and researchers experiment with various techniques—employing different solvents, extreme pressure, and dry-sifting methods—in search of a formula that yields the cleanest, safest, and most potent concentrates. Wax, shatter, crumble, and butter accounted for nearly 40 percent of sales in California dispensaries in 2015, according to BuzzFeed.

The line between doing a dab correctly and burning a hot glob of oil is thin at best.

For top brand names and strains, wax is worth more per gram than gold, and it's being branded as such. 

Brett Sherman, a frequent dabber and Proper rating committee member, tells me he’s enjoying Alpine Vapor lately, which makes a lot of sense. Alpine produces a line of live resin oils that come in an easy-applicator syringe, making handling the high potency, syrup-like solutions way more manageable and precise.

Still, dabbing has its drawbacks and not every marijuana enthusiast approves of extracts. Some consider dabbing tantamount to using "actual" drugs, mostly because of the processes involved from extraction to consumption, which mimic harder substances. And unless you’re familiar with the whole dabbing process, the use of a torch and "nail," or "banger," doesn't make for the most wholesome optics.

For others, the intensity of the high and hardware needed, can make it all seem a bit intimidating. Because you feel the high almost instantaneously after inhalation, the high itself can be extremely disorienting for a consumer who's not ready for the rapid onset, or doesn't know what to expect. Though dabbing is growing in popularity, there’s still a need for consumer education around concentrates. Because the line between doing a dab correctly and burning a hot glob of oil is thin at best.

There’s still this misconception that dabbing is simply a means of getting as stoned as humanly possible (though you’re certainly welcome to if that’s your thing). In truth, dabbing is more about what kind of high you’d like to feel and dialing it in with predictability and consistency. It’s about consuming weed in the cleanest and most effective, efficient means of doing so.

By and large, dabbers are connoisseurs and much more selective than the average smoker about what they consume. The concentrate consumer is not just choosing between a heady indica, pungent sativa, or aromatic hybrid; instead, they’re seeking out information on extraction method, solvent type, terpene profiles, and the cannabinoid content of the product. Dabbing is an efficient way to design your own high and feel the effects (almost) instantly.

By and large, dabbers are connoisseurs and much more selective than the average smoker about what they consume.

Concentrates help bridge the gap between a product purchased, and the high I’ll feel after using it, calling on the terpene profiles and cannabinoid content found within to shape that high. I’m typically more cognizant of the effects because I’m dabbing in an effort to achieve more than just getting stoned. But if the potency of extracts means that frequent use will lead to a significantly higher tolerance, then the next time I smoke flower, I’ll likely have to smoke a much higher dose to feel anything at all. Be warned: Dabbing will increase your tolerance levels.

I’ve found that if I’m dabbing regularly, I become extremely familiar with the rapid onset of a dab-powered high, which is mostly just different from the high of any other weedy product—not so much stronger, or more intoxicating, unless you want it to be.

Still, dabbing is my go-to way to do weed for a number of reasons. It’s not because I’m seeking instant escape or because I want to be high out of my mind. I like to think that it allows me to control my high and experience the different flavor profiles without being bogged down by burnt plant matter. It feels like the natural evolution from my angsty teen years as a stoner skater into a young professional weed snob. Similarly, the routine of loading a dab onto the tool, torching the banger, and waiting for it to cool can be cathartic on its own. The pre-consumption ritual is sometimes, for me at least, the most enjoyable aspect of the whole experience.

Concentrates are only going to get bigger and more complex as cannabis continues to mature and see wider use. And sure, the medicinal benefits that we’ll glean from increased research will continue to change the way we think about cannabis use. But deep down, a dab sesh is a damn good way to spend time with friends or exercise mindfulness when done solo. 

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