Marijuana “dabbing,” a potentially dangerous way of using the drug, is increasingly popular, a new study finds.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), dabbing is a method used to convert marijuana into a concentrate. It uses butane, which is highly flammable, to extract THC from the cannabis plant. THC is the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. This process has resulted in violent explosions, the DEA noted.
“In this process, shredded or ground up plant material is stuffed into a glass, metal, or plastic pipe, with a filter on one end and then the butane is forced in the open end of the pipe,” the DEA explains in a brochure. “As the butane goes through the pipe, the THC within the plant material is extracted and forced through the filter, usually into a receptacle. The receptacle is then heated to burn off the remaining butane, creating a butane gas.”
A number of fires, explosions and severe burns have been caused by the butane gas used in creating the dabs, according to study author John Stogner of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He noted there is a great danger of fire even if a person doesn’t use some sort of heating device, because butane gas can build up in an enclosed space during the process. Even a small spark can cause an explosion.
Dabbing creates crystallized resins with a THC concentration of almost 80 percent, according to Stogner.
“We know that it is more potent than smoking marijuana,” Heather Senior, Parent Support Network Manager for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, told HealthDay. “You don’t know what concentrate you’re going to be getting. It’s going to be a much higher dose, and kids might not be used to that.”
The study appears in Pediatrics.
Photo credit: San Antonio Police Dept., San Antonio, Texas