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Dabs, The Latest Marijuana Trend Police And Media Are Needlessly Freaking Out About


dabs dabbing concentrates butane hash oil medical marijuanaBy Phillip Smith

A highly potent form of marijuana has made its way to the East Coast, and law enforcement and “advocates” are very worried. In fact, they’re so worried that they are making false and baseless claims about its dangers.

The stuff is basically butane hash oil, which is now generically called “dabs.” It can come in the form of oils, “budder,” or “wax.” The stuff known as “shatter” has THC concentrated to extremely high levels, reportedly as high as 90%. The stoniest buds from pot plants, on the other hand, have a THC level of around 25% to 30%.

Shatter is the hash oil derivative in the form of marijuana wax, and is typically produced as a thin, hard, translucent sheet, which will shatter in pieces if dropped to the floor. It is generally vaped, rather than smoked.

Make no mistake — dabs is strong stuff. One toke of dabs contains about as much THC as a joint of pot, and even experienced pot smokers have been known to have unpleasant experiences after biting off more than they can chew. And some of the processes used to extract dabs from raw marijuana are dangerous, leading to explosions that have damaged property and cost lives.

Just before Christmas, police in Virginia busted a truck carrying hundreds of pounds of marijuana and 15 pounds of shatter, the largest shatter bust ever on the East Coast. With the stuff going for $60 a gram in legal and medical marijuana states, police estimated the value of the shatter seizure at $270,000.

That bust appears to have set off some over-the-top warnings from cops and people like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Even though dabs is business-as-usual in legal marijuana states, “experts are warning that Shatter is dangerous, for a variety of reasons,” New Jersey 101.5 reported.

The “expert” in question was Angelo Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, who quickly conflated shatter production with shatter consumption.

“This is extremely dangerous, there are many home explosions in this process,” Valente said. “So there’s not only concern about the use of this type of a chemical going into a child or a young person’s body, but also the immediate concern about explosions that we might be seeing in the state of New Jersey.” The bottom line, he said, was that it was important for local residents “to become aware of just how dangerous Shatter and any other illegal drugs can be to them, both short term and long term.”

The Middletown Patch went a step further. “‘Shatter’ is five times more potent than pot, and can cause explosions once lit,” read the sub-head to its headline about “Dangerous New Form of Marijuana Out There, Police Warn.”

After explaining that shatter is made by mixing marijuana and butane, the Patch wrote that “police departments across the country are reporting explosions, fires and injuries after teens lit the drug on fire to smoke it.”

This is just bad reporting. Shatter does not “cause explosions once lit” and police departments are not “reporting explosions, fires, and injuries after “teens lit the drug on fire to smoke it.” The Patch has confused what can happen with home hash oil extraction efforts (you can blow up) with what does not happen with hash oil consumption (you don’t blow up).

It isn’t just New Jersey where small local media outlets are perpetrating hysterical reporting. WWLP News 22 in Lafayette, Indiana, spoke with “national trainer and speaker for drug prevention” Officer Jermaine Galloway and came away with the bottom line that dabbing “takes marijuana to a new and potentially deadly level” because the THC level “can be nine times higher than regular pot smoking.”

That’s wrong in a couple of different ways. First, shatter is three, four, or maybe five times stronger than high-grade buds, not nine times. And second, it still doesn’t kill you.

The Washington Post, on the other hand, produced a much more level-headed piece on the phenomenon:

“Although the high potency of shatter is troubling to parents and law enforcement officials, marijuana advocates point out that no one has died from ingesting marijuana. ‘As long as people are educated about the proper dosage,’ said Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, ‘it hasn’t presented any problem.’ He likened the difference between shatter and regular marijuana to the difference between whiskey and beer.

“Ry Prichard, a writer and photographer for The Denver Post’s Cannabist blog, noted that hash oil is not new, but shatter is a relatively recent refinement as a result of proliferating medical and recreational cannabis programs.

“‘Shatter and other concentrated cannabis products,’ Prichard said, ‘give a stronger, more immediate effect and have shown to have great benefits with a variety of medical conditions because of the quick-acting nature of inhalation or vaporization.’

“He noted that more than half of the daily sales for dispensaries in Colorado come from concentrates, primarily in edible cannabis products.”

The Post also addressed the issue of hash oil explosions:

“Fox said legalizing and regulating marijuana was the way to protect homes from hash oil extraction fires, ‘so businesses are doing it, instead of people making it themselves.’

“Prichard said legal makers of shatter and other concentrates in Colorado are highly regulated, and those who make it illegally are subject to felony charges.”

Okay, shatter has made it to the East Coast. It’s stronger than buds, so dabs newbies should be careful to not overdo it, but it’s not going to explode in your face while doing it and it’s not going to kill you. Just don’t mess around with trying to make it at home. That could explode in your face and that could kill you. It’s good that at least some media outlets are now taking the trouble to get the story right.

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Johnny Green


  1. Here in Central Valley of California, there have been numerous explosions caused by amateurs who don’t know what the fuck they are doing. Being asthmatic, I agree that vaping extracts is far healthier than smoking the unrefined plant. However, much more needs to be done to educate EVERYONE about how to mitigate the hazards of butane-based extraction processing. Otherwise, the conservatives will continue to use these avoidable tragedies to justify continuing the funding of the Failed Drug War.

  2. “takes marijuana to a new and potentially deadly level”.

    I guess it’s potentially deadly from blowing up while blasting it.

    After a bit a research I found less than 5 people have died from blasting. OMG what an epidemic!!!!

    An average of 6 people every day DIE from alcohol overdose, That’s what I call an epidemic.

    I guess Richard Pryor really blew up from the free base not the lighter!

    Don’t you just hate the haters!

  3. David Yoseph Schreiber on

    Newark, New Jersey, may be the ideal place to challenge the constitutionality of Federal and state prohibition of cannabis. New Jersey has great contrasts when it comes to views about marijuana. They range from arch prohibitionist Governor Christie to author of the CARERS Act Senator Cory Booker. Cory Booker served as mayor of Newark. He was preceded by Sharpe James whose approach was quite different but never the less may be helpful.

    Newark is much disdained but it is in fact a major city. It hosts the top Federal and State courts in New Jersey as well as the New Jersey Medical School among other very significant institutions. It’s predominantly black with a high number of black judges. Very often they do not share the hysterical prohibitionist paranoia of WASPs. In any case Newark may be the place that one can get a ruling along the lines of the one in Mexico that cannabis is not dangerous in any way shape or form and its prohibition is a constitutional violation a person’s privacy (link to the court decision (https://www.leafly.com/news/headlines/exclusive-leafly-has-obtained-the-full-mexico-supreme-court-rulin). Other relevant precedents may be the ones involving ritual use of ayahuasca (DMT) LINK https://ayahuascahealings.com/ayahuasca-church-in-usa-how-are-we-legal/nks AND

    A kicker is that it may be possible to convict the prosecutors and cops for perjury based on the fact that they intentionally and maliciously distorted scientific studies as well as using ones they knew were not valid. In doing so they unlawfully exploited their positions to push a personal political agenda or for the purpose of fraudulently extorting a pay raise or higher position.

    Such a case would probably cost millions of dollars, but for somebody who was busted with a trunk load of marijuana, it may be worth it. To pull it off knowledge of the positions of the judges will be crucial and one should only use a lawyer who is very experienced with that system.

  4. California is only a few elected officials and meteorological crises away from becoming a failed state. Plants need WATER….

  5. “Never let the facts stand in the way of disseminating an effective piece of hysterical rhetoric”
    ~~ The Prohibitionist’s Motto

  6. More crap from the anti-cannabis clown act. They can lie all they want but they have no creditably after 80 years of misinformation about cannabis. Why should I believe anything they say? By the way, the City of Whittier, California has declared war on all things cannabis. City government is a bunch of know nothing old drug war warriors. Do yourself a favor citizens of Whittier, get rid of these reactionary retards.

  7. It amazes me that with all the open communication which the Internet enables, that such pockets of extreme ignorance can exist, especially in the “small media”.

    But I have to say, this article brought my first belly laugh of the day with the “police departments across the country are reporting explosions, fires and injuries after teens lit the drug on fire to smoke it” quote. There are so many things wrong in that one sentence that it truly belongs on SNL. And of course, it’s only “teens” who have this “problem”.

    Thanks for the chuckles…

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