What Is Dabbing?

Even if you've been a cannabis connoisseur for some time now, the term “dabbing” may still be new to you. Not to be confused with the popular hip-hop move called “dabbin',” dabbing is a fairly new way of consuming cannabis by way of vaporizing marijuana concentrates. You may have also heard the practice being called “smoking dabs,” “freebasing marijuana,” or “hitting a dab.”

You can utilize dabbing as a consumption method for your own medical or recreational purposes. Smokers hip to the game know that the proper way to “dab” is by placing your concentrate of choice on a “nail” attached to a specialized glass bong to be heated by a blow torch, with the smoke inhaled through a “dab ring.” You can also load your vaporizer with cannabis oil or wax to dab through your day.

The main benefits of dabbing are that it administers a powerful dose of marijuana's psychoactive and therapeutic compounds, and the effects are felt almost immediately. Also, the amount of concentrated cannabis you need is significantly lower than fresh marijuana flowers, as the effects are much more intense and may not be suited for a novice. “Dabs” are the hits you will take of concentrated cannabis, such as butane hash oil (BHO), shatter, or wax, and remember that the effects of dabbing these sticky, cannabinoid-rich extracts will be experienced differently by each user.

When it comes to dabbing, the major safety concern is the extraction process, which can be tricky and unsafe. As Tiffany John, LMSW of The National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse wrote in 2015, the “making hash oil may be one of the most dangerous aspects of dabbing,” and that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a special warning describing the risks of extracting cannabis concentrates. In the worst scenarios, explosions can occur, people can get severely burned, and home extractions often result in “dirty” oils that can be contaminated with unwanted chemicals or neurotoxins, so the process is best left to professionals.

For now dabbing remains a divisive topic within the cannabis community in regards to its safety and the image it projects of marijuana users. Those who oppose dabbing fear its image as the “crack of pot” will hinder the legalization movement, while many users tout the benefits of dabbing responsibly. As cannabis research continues and technology develops so to will our knowledge about dabbing and the effects, both positive and negative, it produces.


Before Nikki Furrer was a cannabis writer and professional, she had another dream job: owning an independent bookstore. While she says her business venture as a bookseller was ultimately untenable, it did open her eyes to how much she enjoys “matching the reader to the exact book they’re craving.” This zest for matchmaking is evident in her book 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis.' As the title suggests, 'A Woman’s Guide to Cannabis' is for women who are curious about cannabis. A more appropriate title, however, might have been a 'A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis.' Though Furrer touches on applications for the plant that are specific to women—relief of menstrual pain or beauty (though her belief that cannabis is a beauty product because it makes you appear more well-rested seems relevant to both men and women—much of the information in the book is relevant to anyone who is totally inexperienced with cannabis, apprehensive about trying it and needs a run down of the basics.

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