Risky Drug 'Dabbing' Growing in Popularity

Risky Drug 'Dabbing' Growing in Popularity
Risky Drug 'Dabbing' Growing in Popularity

(HealthDay News) — A potentially hazardous form of marijuana use called "dabbing" is growing in popularity across the United States, researchers warn. The study findings were released online June 15 in Pediatrics.

In dabbing, users inhale through a water pipe the vapor from "dabs" of waxy or solid marijuana concentrate. A piece of superheated metal or glass instantly vaporizes the dab, creating an intense high from a single inhalation. But the dabs are created using highly volatile butane gas, and a number of fires, explosions, and severe burns have been linked to the production of this marijuana concentrate, lead author John Stogner, PhD, an assistant professor of criminology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, told HealthDay. "Given the amount of butane that can build up during this process, these individuals should be worried about any spark from any source," he said.

Experts also are concerned about the high potency of the dabs. The crystallized resins created by the process can have a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration approaching 80%, the study authors said.

Dabs, also known as butane hash oil, are created by stuffing marijuana trimmings into a glass, metal, or plastic pipe, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Butane is forced into the pipe, and the flammable liquid extracts THC from the plant material. Users of dabs risk severe burns from the piece of very hot metal or glass used to vaporize the dab, particularly if they are handling the device while already impaired, the study authors noted. Experts also are worried about the other materials that might be contained in the vapor that users inhale. Some benzene likely remains in the dab, and the vapor might also contain gases released by superheated metal, rust, and solder.

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