Side Effects of Smoking Dabs | Dangers of Concentrated Marijuana

Over the last decade, marijuana culture has experienced radical change. In 2012, Colorado became the first state to legalize recreational use of cannabis. Public support for the legalization of weed mostly stems from the perceived health benefits, as well as marijuana-related taxes that serve as a reinvestment into state governments and policy. However, opponents are quick to point out the dangers of pot and the potential for damage it may have on society more generally. For example, a new trend in consuming marijuanareferred to as dabbing–is a cause for concern among many communities. What are some side effects of smoking dabs? 

A Pew Research study found that 53% of Americans approve of policy around legalization. Still, there are dangers to consider as laws at the state-level begin to change. As residents in legalized states partake in marijuana culture, the potency of products continues to increase. Dabbing is the practice of consuming high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana. It can be extremely dangerous for numerous reasons, which we are covering below. 

smoking dabs side effects

What are Dabs?

Dabs are a blanketed terms when referring to concentrated marijuana in the form of:

  • Wax
  • Shatter
  • Honeycomb
  • Butter or Budder

These different types of concentrated marijuana undergo the same process. Basically, butane hash oil (BHO) is used to extract the THC from the cannabis. For comparison, a typical gram of dried marijuana flower contains anywhere from 4% to 23% THC, with an average of 15%. It usually doesn’t exceed 25% on the high range. Dabs, on the other hand, can contain upward of 80% THC concentration. 

One factor all unseasoned dabbers should consider is the potency of THC extracts. Cannabis extracts often test between 60-90% THC, which means it doesn’t take much to become profoundly high. Exceed your personal limit and you may find the effects to be uncomfortable and overwhelmingly intense.

How does THC Affect the Body?

When marijuana is smoked, THC and other chemicals in the cannabis plant pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, which rapidly carries them throughout the body to the brain. The person begins to experience effects almost immediately. People who use marijaua often describe the experience as a pleasant euphoria with a certain sense of relaxation. Other common effects, which may vary dramatically among different people, include heightened sensory perception (e.g., brighter colors), laughter, altered perception of time, and increased appetite.

The effects of marijuana will vary for each person. Additionally, the effects may take longer to set in if consumed with lower THC concentrations and when taken on a full stomach. As the levels of THC increase, the higher the likelihood that a person may experience a negative reaction. Dabs, for example, can cause a number of issues, particularly for those who are experimenting or consuming with other types of drugs. 

Negative side effects of smoking dabs may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear 
  • Distrust
  • Panic

In more extreme cases, a person may experience:

  • Psychosis like hallucinations or delusions
  • Loss of the sense of personal identity

Some individuals who are predisposed to certain types of mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia may find that dabs trigger the onset of the condition. In fact, several studies have linked marijuana use to increase risk for psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, and other substance abuse disorders. Recent research suggests that smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis by nearly five times compared to people who have never used marijuana. These side effects of smoking dabs should be carefully considered when approaching the subjecting of recreational use of cannabis. 

side effects of dabbing

Dabbing: Other Dangers to Consider

The noticeable effects of marijuana usually linger for one to three hours, sometimes longer depending on how the marijuana has been consumed. As a result, there are other dangers beyond the threat of psychosis, panic attacks, and paranoia. The side effects of smoking dabs can severely impact a person’s ability to operate machinery including vehicles. 

Additionally, there are other physical effects that include:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Numbness or crawling sensations under the skin
  • Uncontrollable shivering and shaking

Dabbing may carry a higher risk of dependency than other methods of consuming cannabis. “Cannabis, like other psychoactive drugs including opiates and alcohol, carries a risk of increasing tolerance. This leads users to consume more quantity and higher potency products over time to achieve their desired effect,” said Bone. This can lead to Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) and Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome (CHS). While CUD is closer to what might have formerly been called addiction, CHS results in abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting.

In addition to the increased risk of CUD and CHS, some research has shown that dabbing may expose consumers to greater levels of toxins. One 2017 study published in the Cureus Journal of Medical Science found that contaminants present in dabbing could trigger both physical and psychological side effects. The authors of the study wrote that dabs vary in contaminant, THC, and CBD levels that could lead to a host of mental and physical problems.

Ultimately, there is no guarantee that a consumer will avoid the side effects of dabbing.

side effects of dabs

How Much THC is Safe to Consume?

Tolerance for various levels of THC depends on the individual, the potency, and how it is consumed. The less euphoric effects of marijuana, including anxiety, fear, paranoia and panic, are more common when too much is taken or if the marijuana has an unexpectedly high potency. Youth users may have stronger short- and long-term effects from increased potency.

Some studies have been done but we need to know more about the possibility of long-term harm to people who are at risk for mental illness.

Marijuana Addiction: Finding Help

If you’re experiencing the side effects of smoking dabs, it’s important to find resources that can provide support and recovery options. 

If you or a loved one is struggling to stop using marijuana, it may be time to get help utilizing online addiction treatment for marijuana. At AspenRidge REACH, we provide quality care and support that addresses substance dependency as well as underlying mental health disorders. Our online programs address addiction through evidence-based symptoms designed for long-term recovery. 

To learn more about your need for online marijuana addiction treatment center, contact us today at (720) 650-8055.