It was clear this wasn’t a normal dab.
With each passing day, the weed world is changing. From what we smoke to how we smoke, to where we are legally allowed to smoke, or if we smoke our weed at all. Of course, cannabis is still illegal at the national level, a Schedule I drug on the same tier as heroin and bath salts. Most people know this notorious scheduling is unmerited; weed just has a bad rap. That said, one aspect of all-things-THC that isn't doing the cannabis community any favors (at least from an aesthetic perspective) is dabbing.
But image isn't everything. Dabbing, or the process of heating concentrates on a hot surface and inhaling the vapor, is a relatively simple and effective way to consume cannabis. And that’s about where the simplicity ends. Every experienced dabber has a preference for brands, concentrate consistency, golden versus glassy shatter, the texture of a crumble—the list goes on and on. There’s no limit to the interesting combinations and specifications you can find in the concentrate arena. Which is why when we heard of a highly potent, crystalline concentrate testing at 99% THC-A, we knew we had to try it (despite it looking like a highly addictive amphetamine or pure MDMA). Even regular dabs have been nicknamed the “crack cocaine of weed,” so this THC-A concentrate is practically guaranteed to throw the mainstream media (and our moms) into a bona fide tizzy.
“It’s not like dabbing crystals or eating raw flower is the only way you can consume THC-A.”
But what is THC-A exactly? Tetrahydrocannabinolic Acid, or THC-A for short, is a chemical compound found in cannabis before it’s decarboxylated (AKA getting rid of the carboxylic acids by heating it). It’s during the decarboxylation process that the THC-A turns into THC. It also explains why you get a noticeable psychotropic high from smoking a joint or ripping a bong. The little flame from your lighter is all it takes to turn the raw materials of THC into the stuff of psychotropic legend. This chemical is so temperature sensitive that even the sun will decarb it in the right settings.
But it’s not like dabbing crystals or eating raw flower is the only way you can consume THC-A. Papa & Barkley makes a 1:1 CBD:THCa Releaf tincture that promises to alleviate mild aches, pains, and anxiety. Level makes a THCA ProTab to serve the same pain-relieving purposes that you can either swallow like a pill or dissolve under your tongue. Or if you’re not into oral consumption of any kind, Mary's Medicinals makes a spot-specific THCa Transdermal Patch. And did we mention you can consume some concentrated oils like you would an edible? The more you know.
To give you a little context, some dabbable CBD crystals get you so not high, you can legally order them online. But we got our crystalline THC-A from a West LA dispensary thinking maybe there was some head effect we had yet to experience. There was only one way to find out.
“Is this high so cerebral, I don't feel it at all? Who is John Galt?”
At first taste, the flavorful terpene profile of the crystalline dabs was present. The actual vapor went down more smoothly than most previous experiences with cannabis concentrates, and the heavy, chesty cough that normally follows after the exhale never came. Test subjects' heads weren't swimming. Proper’s researchers didn't even get the "dab sweats." This was a pleasant experience and a far cry from what a person might imagine smoking crack would be like. But did the pure THC-A provide a higher high? At 10pm, ten minutes after the first dab, at least one of us thought, Am I even stoned? Did it work? Is this high so cerebral, I don't feel it at all? Who is John Galt?
It was clear this wasn’t a normal dab. In order to test stonage levels, the experimenting crew decided to take another dab and also resolved to complete a task or challenge of sorts. But once we inhaled the second dab, we never decided on something to do. In fact, the idea of challenging ourselves was entirely forgotten. None of us drove around suburban New Jersey in search of White Castle hamburgers, but one of us did skate down the street to pick up a soda. The rest just kind of marinated on the sofa, but it didn’t even totally feel like marinating, if that makes sense.
"It tastes like snowflakes," observed a friend who had defected from the control group and taken a crystal dab. "I like it."
"Let's dip this shatter into the snowflakes," suggested the skater/researcher.
The dipped dab hit much harder than pure crystals on their own, though it became difficult to differentiate between flavor profiles. At this point, no one involved in the study could deny being noticeably high, but the one person taking notes fell asleep shortly after. So I suppose you could say the crystals make for one hell of a sleep aid.
When morning arrived, the most diehard of the researchers decided to try the crystal dabs again. No one felt anxious about it. The resident of the research site remembered to brush his teeth. Another suggested breakfast. But once again, no one seemed stoned in the traditional sense. Which left us wondering maybe that's what medical marijuana is all about? Pot can ease anxiety, elevate creativity, and unleash immediate psychoactive effects while testing around 20% THC. At a potency of nearly 100%, these THC-A crystals killed any pain before it was even felt. The THC-A dab did not provide the intoxication of your average THC concentrate, but it did make us feel... something. When combined with another concentrate, the high was supremely comfortable and unique. And no one died.