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Marijuana Concentrates | Dabs, Oils, & The Dangers Of Abuse

Published on April 19, 2021
Marijuana Concentrates | Dabs, Oils, & The Dangers Of Abuse

Marijuana is a mix of leaves, flowers, and other parts of the Cannabis plant. As one of the most popular drugs in the United States, it can cause relaxation, euphoria, and altered senses.

In the past, most people who used marijuana consumed the actual marijuana plant matter by smoking it or mixing it in foods. Today, though, many people consume marijuana concentrates, also known as marijuana extracts or cannabis concentrates

What Are Marijuana Concentrates?

Marijuana concentrates are processed cannabis products that consist primarily of terpenes, which are hydrocarbons that give marijuana its smell and flavor, and cannabinoids, which are compounds found in cannabis. 

The most well-known cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD can cause relaxation and often appears in wellness supplements. THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. In other words, it’s the ingredient that makes you feel “high.” 

Marijuana concentrates come from trichomes, which are tiny, mushroom-shaped compounds that surround the cannabis flower and produce cannabinoids. 

Many people use solvents to process marijuana concentrate products. While some people use non flammable solvents like carbon dioxide, others prefer flammable solvents (such as propane, butane, and ethanol) because they produce higher THC levels and, thus, a more intense high. 

Types Of Marijuana Concentrates

There are multiple types of marijuana concentrates with varying extraction methods. The most common types include:

  • kief, a powdery substance that’s usually extracted with an herb grinder
  • hash oil (also called honey oil or cannabis oil), a gooey substance that’s extracted with solvents
  • bubble hash, a gooey substance that’s extracted with ice water
  • rosin, a sticky substance that’s extracted using heat and pressure
  • CO2 oil, an oil extracted with CO2 (carbon dioxide)
  • butane hash oil (BHO), an oil extracted with butane
  • shatter, a solid, glass-like version of BHO
  • wax (also called budder, badder, honeycomb, or crumble), a crumbly, wax-like version of BHO
  • live resin, a substance that contains a high amount of terpenes, which gives it a stronger smell and flavor than other concentrates
  • distillate, a very refined concentrate that resembles honey

How Do People Use Marijuana Concentrates?  

People use marijuana concentrates through either “vaping” or “dabbing.” 

Vaping means heating the substance in a vaporizer or electronic cigarette and inhaling the resulting vapors. 

To dab, a person heats a titanium, quartz, or ceramic nail, places the concentrate on the nail, and then inhales the resulting vapor through a bong-like device called a dab rig. Some people also use dab pens, which resemble vape pens. 

Concentrates made with butane hash oil are often called “dabs” because most people consume them via dabbing. Sometimes, though, the word “dab” refers to all marijuana concentrates.

Dangers Of Using Marijuana Concentrates 

When you vape or dab marijuana concentrates, you face the following dangers:

Chemical Burns From Using Solvents

People who use flammable solvents to create their own marijuana concentrates face the risk of fire and explosion. These events can cause serious burns or death.

EVALI

If you use a vape pen or dab pen to consume marijuana concentrates that contain THC, you may experience EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury. This potentially fatal illness causes symptoms like cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. 

Increased Risk Of THC Side Effects

Marijuana concentrates feature extremely high THC levels. While most marijuana plant materials contain about 20% THC, most concentrates contain 40 to 80%.

That means that people who vape or dab concentrates face a higher risk of THC side effects, which include:

  • anxiety
  • panic attacks
  • depression
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations
  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • problems with thinking, memory, and attention, especially if you’re under 18

People who dab are more likely to experience these effects than people who vape. That’s because dabbing delivers THC to the body very rapidly. 

Increased Risk Of Physical Dependence & Addiction

Anyone who uses marijuana regularly could develop physical dependence and addiction. However, people who vape or dab may face an even higher risk due to the amount of THC.

Physical dependence means your body requires marijuana to function normally. If you stop using it, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like irritability, trouble sleeping, and depression.

Physical dependence often leads to addiction. This disease makes you feel unable to control your marijuana use. To recover, you may need to attend a drug addiction treatment program. 

If you or a loved one struggles with marijuana use, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn about our substance abuse treatment programs. 

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of E-Cigarette, or Vaping, Products
National Institute on Drug Abuse - Marijuana Concentrates DrugFacts
United States Drug Enforcement Administration - The Facts About Marijuana Concentrates
United States Drug Enforcement Administration - Vaping and Marijuana Concentrates: What is Vaping?

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