By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
Americans are increasingly aware that marijuana has medicinal properties. Still, without a doubt, the flowering plant’s ability to get a person “high” is what made it popular in the first place.
When marijuana advocates talk about marijuana properties these days, it’s generally in a medicinal context - something more acceptable to the general public and a more likely path to legalization.
It’s not politically correct to say, “Hey, I smoke pot to get a good buzz!” Libertarians make no bones about a person’s right to smoke weed. The issue to them is simple; the government has no business telling people what they can or can’t do with marijuana.
Remember when corn cob pipes became popular to puff pot? Hookahs were the rage when Indian culture and gurus were considered cool in the 70s. People even used apples to make pipes. In case you want to know how that’s done, go to http://www.wikihow.com/Make-an-Apple-Pipe.
Since the corn cob pipes, hookahs, glass pipes and joints, there’s been a quantum leap in delivery systems. Most cannabis experts agree than a good vaporizer is the safest way to smoke weed.
There’s just one delivery system that concerns me. Because it’s become the rage recently among the younger set, I should explain what it is. You can now buy “wax” (high content THC Dabs) that have a stronger and faster psychoactive effect than any other delivery method can provide.
The user takes a single inhalation of vaporized or burned cannabis concentrate - a dab - that has been placed on a hot nail with a tiny spatula or needle. Dab concentrates are made from oil extracted from cannabis plants with a solvent.
The most widely used solvent is butane —better known as lighter fluid. You should know that butane extraction is against the law. People are serving time in prison for using butane as an organic solvent.
More important, butane is a fire and explosion risk because it is so highly flammable. Many people have been severely injured using butane to make cannabis oil extracts. And “butane” isn’t pure butane; it contains contaminants.
Approximately 20% of the volatile fuel in common “butane” lighter fluid is a combination of other hydrocarbons including benzene, ethyl mercaptan, heptane, hexane, and other toxic impurities.
There are alternatives to using regular butane. A higher grade butane (USP grade or laboratory-grade) extract vaporized with a temperature-controlled device - could be used if you can find it. However, using regular butane is the most common way to make dabs.
The nail used in the process presents a problem too. When heated with a torch to burn or volatilize the dab, the nail will gradually disintegrate and flake off, further polluting by the process. And let’s face it, a stoner messing with an open flame is a recipe for a disaster.
According to High Times Magazine, dabs were the big hit (pun intended) at the High Times Cannabis Cup recently held in Los Angeles.
Free samples were given out. You can only imagine the buzz that caused among visitors, some of whom openly walked around with torches and bubblers (a brand new type of multi-purpose bong that is dab friendly). Some people reportedly passed out and got sick from the sudden massive THC infusion.
There is an argument for using dabs. The hit is so intense it’ll immediately help your condition (especially if you’re in pain), and it lasts most of the day as opposed to conventional delivery systems (pipes, bongs, etc.) that may require multiple smoking sessions during the day.
There’s a safe way to produce dabs, and there’s a dangerous way, depending upon the process used. I think dabs are safer for people who have smoked for years and have built up some resistance to THC, as opposed to new users.
My research indicates that dabs first appeared in California, but their usage has spread to Oregon and beyond. Can a whole dab industry be far off? Dabs are the current fad and marketing efforts are popping up everywhere.
Nevertheless, the way I see it, if you’re out to have a good time - or need to medicate for whatever condition - why mess with mother nature? When you mix toxic elements with your marijuana you take a chance of becoming an accident (or worse) statistic.
As It Stands, once upon a time there was a jingle for Brylcreem (a man’s hair wax) that went, “A little dab’ll do ya…” Buy wax today, and that little dab may do you harm!