Dabs or dabbing are slang names for the use of concentrated Butane Hash Oil (or BHO). It is a relatively new method of using/ingesting cannabis that involves the inhalation of highly concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active chemical in cannabis. This concentrated form is produced through a chemical process using butane oil. It is also known as marijuana wax, budder, honeycomb and shatter and has been reported to have a THC concentration of approximately 80% (in comparison with traditional cannabis which is about 14-15%).
Young people may not, in fact, be aware of the potency difference between dabs and traditional cannabis.
The effects of taking Butane Hash Oil with other drugs including over-the-counter or prescribed medications can be unpredictable and dangerous.
The use of butane hash oil is not a new practice, but it does appear to be gaining in popularity. There is anecdotal evidence that indicates people believe dabbing is a safer method of cannabis ingestion as opposed to a bong or joint due to the cannabis being vaporised and that the high potency of dabs reduces the number of times it needs to be taken to produce a ‘high’.
There is little known about the risks of ‘dabs’ compared to traditional cannabis but it has been proposed that the increased level of THC and the unique method of using may increase the risk of dependence and intensify withdrawal symptoms.
The latest research suggests that health care workers should be aware that dabbing may have serious health consequences for young people—including a higher risk of psychotic symptoms developing due to the high potency of dabs.