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Pot Dabbing: The Risks Some Take For A Buzz
Dabs-Concentrates of marijuana

Many just roll up pot and light a match. But  a growing  number of people are going to dangerous lengths to get a greater buzz.  It involves extracting the active ingredient from marijuana and turning it into a wax-like substance. You then heat a small bit or “dab” of it and inhale the vapor.

In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Ashley Haynes of the North Texas Poison Center explained to why pot dabbing is a bad idea.

From Dr. Haynes interview:

How the “dab” is created: “You’ll take leaves or flowers. It’s then placed into a tube of metal or glass. And butane – that liquid that’s in butane lighters, that very flammable liquid – is passed through it under  high pressure. What that does is dissolves it out of the leaves. When that THC concentrate is heated very quickly, a blow torch is often used as the heat source.”

Why it’s dangerous:  "We see fires happening because of the blow torch itself. But also in the extraction component, because you start to add pressure and heat to that butane in an enclosed tube, that can also cause explosions."

The appeal of pot dabbing: "Because it’s more concentrated, you don’t have to use as much to get relaxed. Because it’s a vapor, there’s no smell associated it, so you can kind of avoid detection. Because it’s something that’s novel, it kind of make things popular when it’s new or unique or different."

Why dabbing’s popular again: “The sort of mentioning of it repeatedly can sometimes kind of sensationalize things. But also I think as the THC concentrates have been going up in the marijuana leaves, that’s led to the increased desire for more concentrated solutions. As we’ve had new technologies that allow use of this concentrate in new ways, that also contributes to its new popularity. There are those who say higher concentrates have better medicinal purposes. And additionally, I think some states where marijuana has been legalized or where cannabis has been, I’ll say, decriminalized, people may forget the extraction in butane of this hash oil is illegal.”

For more information:

North Texas Poison Center 

Pot 'Dabbing' Poses Risk of Serious Burns 

The Dangerous Way Smokers Get Pot’s Strongest High (VIDEO) 

Drug Facts: Marijuana 

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.