If you’re just joining us, dabbing is an increasingly popular cannabinoid delivery method  that involves inhaling the fumes of very strong concentrates, suddenly heated. Butane is frequently used as a solvent to extract cannabinoids and terpenoids from cannabis.

“Butane is a fire and explosion risk because it is highly flammable,” Jeffrey Hergenrather, MD, reminded his readers in the Winter/Spring 2013 O’Shaughnessy’s. “Many people have been severely injured using butane to make cannabis oil extracts.” There is the possibility of inhaling toxic solvents remaining on the concentrate being inhaled, he noted, and invisible particles can flake off from metals that seem inert.

Dale Gieringer of California NORML, recalled incidents of people fainting after dabbing sessions.

Some reform honchos advised us to stop publicizing the dabbing phenomenon, which makes us want to play it up.

There are economic factors associated with the popularity of dabs (and the simultaneous popularity of megadose cannabis oils for medical use). Because moldy cannabis can be transformed into a mold-free concentrate by distillation with alcohol or extraction by butane or other organic solvents, plant material that growers used to compost is now being sold to oil makers.

Chris Roberts of the SF Weekly wrote a piece suggesting that “a glut on the market… too many flowers and too much bud” led to the proliferation of concentrates. “Like many other commodities,” Roberts observed in reference to the once sacred herb, “a repacking or repurposing was necessary in order to find market value.”

BeyondTHC.com got this note from Jeff M. in Los Angeles:

“I bought a gram or so of ‘wax’ at a local dispensary a while back and had a very bad reaction (I felt high and not high at the same time and for days after wasn’t able to get high using traditional product). The dispensary later told me they were having ‘problems’ with the wax. I learned that the ‘manufacturer’ (some guy in his garage?) probably reused the butane, causing contamination. I go au natural now and use a vape.”