The NIDA Blog Team

Smoking marijuana extracts, sometimes called “dabbing,” has become more popular in recent years, and it has some doctors concerned.

Marijuana extracts—concentrated oils from the marijuana plant (sometimes called “hash oil”)—are a lot stronger than dried marijuana. The higher THC levels are what draw some people to try marijuana extracts. On average, regular marijuana has a THC content of 12–13 percent. (Remember, THC is the chemical in pot that makes users feel high.) But the average marijuana extract has a THC content of more than 50 percent, and some extracts are as much as 80 percent THC!

Side effects may include explosions

Because the THC and other chemicals are more concentrated in marijuana extracts than in regular marijuana, the side effects of dabbing—like poor judgment and coordination—are likely to be more powerful than those from smoking weed. Since dabbing is so new, there are not many studies on this yet, unfortunately.

Marijuana extracts can also be very dangerous to make. One method for extracting the concentrated drug from regular marijuana involves forcing butane (a flammable chemical often found in lighter fluid) through a marijuana-packed pipe. Sometimes it works; sometimes it blows the house up, landing the maker in a burn unit (or worse). 

Dab at your own risk

Some scientists have said there should be more public education about the risks of dabbing. In 2014, one study found that, although using dabs didn’t cause more accidents than smoking marijuana buds, the extracts did cause people to build up a higher tolerance to THC and to have more symptoms of withdrawal.

Also, in a 2015 study, over 80 percent of marijuana extracts studied were contaminated with pesticides or poisonous solvents left over from the extraction process.

Marijuana in general is bad for teens’ developing brains. A new way to smoke marijuana doesn’t make it any safer.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Shut up . U Americans and your land of the free. What happens when some dealer supplies your child with this stuff and walks away scot free
i never dabbed before
Isnt that a dance
I dont think they know how dabing works XD
I feel you
Guys, most of these comments are dumb, lets be real here. :(
Guys, lets be real here, most of these comments are dumb and unhelpful. :(
has anybody smoked dab?
i could dab like cam newton
this article is made by someone who doesn't know anything at all about dabs.
Ive wathed two parents of a ten year old turn into zombies.thats all they do,how sad for the kid.smoking weed is one thing,but when it becomes every waking, mombent
Agree- let's remember teen brains are still developing! That front lobe will not fully develop until 25 years old for males. The concentrated THC in dabs is just too much. It's the college age kids that we are seeing doing dabs the most- it's all over campuses and reports of drug induced psychosis from dabs are increasing in emergency rooms.
why would anyone dab, it seems dumb
It's no different than smoking weed. It's just a different "form" of THC.
My sister was taking meds for a blood clot. She had one in her lungs that the doctors were watching. She started doing the dab. She told me that she was just smoking a bowl every couple of days for pain & nausea. She told me that she really felt better for a couple days. She would have whole conversations with me she didn't even remember 2 days later. One day she went out with the person she normally smoked with. She went out for a few hours came home, I believe they came back to her home & smoked a bowl then they left her. A few minutes after, she called some of our family on the phone. She said she was having trouble breathing & she may need to go to the hospital. They rushed over there to check on her. The EMS squad got there when the family did. They did everything they could but she was dead. If you have any health issues & think this is the answer. You are dead wrong. I think it killed her. It was not the first time she used that. I know for a fact because she told me so. It hurts most because she died right before Christmas. She used drugs off & on her entire adult life. You can't do that for long periods of time & it not catch up to you. Be aware of those around you & look for the warning signs if your friend or family member is a drug user. It may save their life.
why does a dab have no distinctive odor, whereas marijuana does?

Dabs (or wax, or hash oil) are made by extracting marijuana’s active ingredient (THC) and concentrating it to reach extremely high levels, like 80%, 90% or even higher. The extraction process itself which typically involves the use of highly flammable organic solvents, like butane, can be very dangerous. Dabbing can also be dangerous because of the very high THC concentration which can trigger very unpleasant adverse reactions like psychosis. In addition, there is very little research into the short or long term effects of dabbing, but based on what we do know, it is likely to have more serious effects on learning and memory than use of lower potency marijuana products.

The smell that is typical of marijuana comes from burning plant components. Once you remove everything else and end up with what is essentially pure THC you should no longer expect any smell.

Very helpful article
As someone who doesn't smoke, I found this article to be very helpful in informing me about something that I had no idea existed. The dangers of smoking weed only become greater when studies about it come out.
I just don't know why anyone would want to do that.... self inflicted brain damage!!
Obviously the stupid comment comments are from kids smoking vaping or whatever. So is dabs basically what we called hash back in the day? I have noticed an extreme agitation here and there from my child lately. Complaining of headaches more and then all of a sudden fine again.

Dabbing is the term used for smoking marijuana extracts. Smoking extracts and resins from the marijuana plant with high levels of THC is on the rise. There are several forms of these extracts, such as hash oil, budder, wax, and shatter. These resins have 3 to 5 times more THC than the plant itself. Dabbing can deliver dangerous amounts of THC to users, and has led some people to seek treatment in the emergency room. There have also been reports of people injured in fires and explosions caused by attempts to extract hash oil from marijuana leaves using butane (lighter fluid).


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