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Dabbing is a different and relatively new way of using cannabis, but do you know what’s actually in a dab?

What’s In a Dab?

  • A “dab” is a concentrated dose of cannabis that is made by extracting the psychoactive components (like THC) using a solvent, which produces a thick, sticky oil that is then heated and inhaled through a dab “rig.” 
  • The oil is sometimes called wax, amber, honeycomb, honey oil, shatter, budder, or butane hash oil. 
  • The most common type of dab oil is butane hash oil (or BHO). This is made by dissolving the THC and other cannabinoid compounds found in dried cannabis flower and leaves in butane oil, which is then collected and bottled for consumption. 

Is Dabbing Safe? 

  • Dabbing involves using cannabis with a much higher THC concentration; its physical and psychological effects may be more severe - which means its side effects can be more severe too.
  • According to recent studies, using butane hash oil has been linked to lung injuries, such as dabbing-induced acute and chronic lung impairment, pneumonia, and respiratory failure. 
  • Dabbing is a relatively new practice, so the long-term effects of dabbing are not well-known.
  • Butane gas is a highly flammable and unstable compound that can easily accumulate in enclosed spaces and can be ignited by any flame source (or even just a spark), so there is also a potential risk of explosions with use.  

Is Dabbing Legal? 

In the State of California, even though cannabis has been legalized for both recreational and medical use, the production of hash oil using butane or other flammable gasses/liquids is still illegal due to the risks inherent in manufacturing. And, like the use of cannabis itself, producing and consuming dabs is still federally illegal.

Stopping use all together can often be the best and most effective way to avoid adverse side effects of dabbing. If you need support or resources to stop use, check out our substance use treatment resources.