Marijuana “Dabbing” Causing Explosions and Severe Burns

marijuana dabbing 6-17-15

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


15 Responses

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    July 27, 2018 at 11:29 AM

    The problem is that most of the idiots doing this do not educate themselves. They’re just looking for a better high, and half the time they are conducting the process while under the influence. They are not in the medicinal business and are not what I guess you could call a responsible marijuana user.

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    Nikki Moore

    April 3, 2017 at 2:59 AM

    This is the most absurd article to read in 2017. I see the date of 2015 and just so the public knows this is VERY outdated information regarding extraction methods and is a felony in Oregon where I extract legally licensed from OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission). We do not use a glass tube and many if not most of us do not use butane. We prefer CO2 extraction and rosin.

    CO2 Extraction: Carbon dioxide extraction is a process used to extract the essence of the plant. When a certain amount of pressure is applied to CO2 (carbon dioxide) this gas turns into liquid. This liquid CO2 can be used as a very inert, safe, “liquid solvent.”

    Rosin: A cannabis resin extraction method that utilizes heat and pressure to create a solvent free hash oil product that rivals hydrocarbon extractions in aroma, aesthetic, and most importantly, medicinal efficacy.

    For those using butane extraction methods many use a closed loop system never leaking the butane out into the atmosphere. The same can be done with Propane known as PHO on the shelf, or Freon.

    Very small amounts of dab (concentrated cannabis) should be consumed at one time via vaporizing, consumption, or with combustion. There are more individuals going to the hospital for a racing heart and breathing complaints due to your body being exposed to an excessive amount of THC at one time. In case you are ever in a situation where this is the case you can use CBD via cannabis or hemp to bring down the high and subdue the anxiety (racing heart), spinning room, and dizziness.

    CBD: Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non-psychoactive portion of the plant that can cause relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria. CBD can stop cancer cells reproducing and aide in the shrinkage of tumors. Can be obtained from Cannabis or Hemp and has many of the same pain relieving and insomnia relieving benefits as the other.

    PS: I raised my son in the cannabis community after being diagnosed with Lupus which is extremely painful. I had used low dose radiation, Plaquenil, Lyrica/Gabapentin and nothing worked but cannabis did. My son has won an Emmy at Facebook for their Virtual Reality game design department Oculus and now works for the Google Goggle’s VR department. He has never touched cannabis in his life. However, he uses CBD from hemp because there is very minute levels of THC (0.03%) that cannot cause any head change and he is able to battle daily pain from a broken back injury in high school. He hopes to teach math and possibly be our president one day.

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    January 18, 2017 at 11:15 AM

    Explosions will not occur if a person chooses to educate themselves on the process before extracting. Most explosions will occur when undereducated, inexperienced and often, younger people choose to extract using unsafe methods; such as extracting indoors, extracting near an electrical outlet, or blasting straight onto an apparatus that is being heated by an open flame.

    Those who are unversed in the process don’t understand that butane sinks. Most people who have a sound education in chemistry will likely choose to extract in a safe and proper environment, assuming they don’t have closed loop systems which trap purged butane in a separate column. Unfortunately equipment like this is very expensive, leading to younger generations, and those with less resources attempting to extract using open-ended tubes that allow butane to flow wherever, often sinking and being taken by wind.

    Making it legal, and educating people on the dangers and precautions that should be taken will reduce risk of explosions. Continuing to tell people “just don’t do it” is unproductive and serves no purpose. It is going to happen anyway.

    Thc is not proven to be “fatal” in infants. I don’t even know why someone would bring that up. No one is going to give a dab to a baby.

    Legalization plays no part in the increased number of explosions. The increasing number of explosions occurring, especially in legalized states are due to it being more prevalent among populations. People hear that they can make oils with butane and then, without any researching whatsoever, they try and extract using dangerous methods. There is no way to stop it, especially with over 50% of Americans supporting recreational marijuana use. The only true way reduce risky behavior is education.

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    June 26, 2015 at 9:46 AM

    The explosion is the result of dabbing. Period. No dabbing, no butane. No dabbing no torch. Ergo, no dabbing, no explosion. The headline is accurate.
    Not what Rob said.

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