For many, dabbing is a matter of excess. Instagram and YouTube are full of videos of proud dabbers showing off gigantic lung capacities that can hold up to five whole grams of cannabis concentrate in one sitting. That’s the equivalent of about half an ounce of cannabis flowers – all in one hit.
However, dabs can also be about the drug. While high tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) strains have dominated the flower and extract markets since hippies made hot knife hash hits fresh from the stove, high cannabidiol (CBD) extracted strains have gained a unique presence in the world of dabbing.
First the taste. Every hit of a CBD-rich strain such as Harlequin, Sour Tsunami or Cannatonic has the distinctive taste of candied red cherries on the front of the mouth and lips on the exhale.
And the effects are best described as expansive: instant mood change, muscle relaxation and pain relief. Many CBD dabbers say they dab for instant anxiety relief – a fast-acting, non-pharmaceutical Klonopin, without the nasty side effects.
As CBD grows in popularity, in part thanks to the efficacy of CBD oil in treating childhood epilepsy – the story of a young Colorado girl whose persistent epilepsy was treated with CBD-rich cannabis extracts was reported in Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s groundbreaking CNN documentary series Weed – more plants have been bred to produce more CBD, and more breeders are growing CBD-rich strains than ever.
Some cannabis users are drawn to concentrates made with CBD-rich strains because the effects are more pronounced and immediate when dabbed.
“It doesn’t give you the head that’s fleeting – it works for me
same as taking a Vicodin
or a Percoset,” says Portland, Oregon cannabis grower
McKinney has been extracting CBD for over a year to use for dabbing and supplying “non-psychoactive dabs” to local pharmacies. She says concentrated CBD relieves the muscle spasms and chronic pain she experiences as a result of a car accident that broke her face and collarbone and threw her spine out of alignment. She has experimented with growing and extracting seven CBD-rich strains, although her favorite is Cannatonic.
Most concentrates in the Bay Area are THC-rich, but with a little searching, you can find CBD oil at pharmacies. The Green Door from San Francisco contains Dabber’s Delight CBD Oil, which clocks in at 41.70 percent CBD.
While CBD flower varieties are available in any pharmacy, CBD dabs can catch up with them. Growers in Oregon have found that extracted CBD is more popular with patients than flowers alone.
With the rise of CBD, THC is often maligned, despite having a host of medical properties, including its ability to shrink tumors in lab tests. The appeal of isolated or CBD-rich cannabis to conservatives is that there is no ‘high’.
CBD, unlike THC, is considered non-psychotropic, meaning it does not cause the trippy psychedelic effects of THC. This isn’t entirely true: CBD is technically psychoactive, as it crosses the blood-brain barrier and induces mental effects – just not the intoxication typically associated with cannabis. But because CBD changes the psychotropic nature of THC, a CBD dab can help reduce an uncomfortable high.
Immediate relief and even psychotropic harm reduction: Dabs are indeed drugs, thanks to CBD.
Photo by Gabrielle Lurie