It’s been a solid year for tabloid-driven drug scares.
First came the panic over the impact super-strength skunk has on mental health. Then it shifted to synthetic legal high Spice, which led to several high-profile hospital admissions (mostly of students) before there were moves to have the synthetic cannabinoid outlawed.
Next up for scaremongering is likely to be ‘dabbing’, a form of smoking a powerful cannabis oil.
Dabbing involves heating concentrated Butane Hash Oil (BHO) – also known as dabs, honey oil, wax, shatter and budder – and inhaling it through a glass pipe or bong. It’s a process that has led to dabbing being dubbed ‘cannabis crack’.
“Dabbing means people can enjoy cannabis without mixing it with tobacco. From a public health perspective that is potentially a real game changer”
Even seasoned smokers are surprised by the strength. Street cannabis has around a 15 per cent concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis. A dab has up to 90 per cent. It’s been said if a regular joint is like having a pint, a dab is the equivalent of downing a quarter of vodka.
Despite the potency experts say dabbing could be a “game changing” way of getting stoned – because it’s healthier than smoking cannabis with its traditional mix of tobacco.
Dr Adam Winstock who helps produce the Global Drugs Survey told Loaded, “Dabbing could be the thing that means people can enjoy cannabis without mixing it with tobacco. From a public health perspective, that’s potentially a real game changer.”
Dabs can also be rubbed into the skin, gums, or even turned into a suppository, if shoving cannabis up your tunnel is how you like to get on one.
BHO can also be adapted into an odourless form for subtle use in the booming number of e-cigs being sucked.
Dr Winstock added there are still downsides.
“The risks attached – memory loss, paranoia and dependence – are massively escalated with vast amounts of THC,” he said.
Dabbing is most prolific in the US but Dr Winstock stressed how easy it was to smuggle cannabis oil into other countries.
Dr Winstock said, “Clearly, there is a difference between shipping a soap-bar sized piece of cannabis resin and a marble-sized ball of BHO.”
It’s doubtful tabloids will spin dabbing with the same measured consideration as Dr Winstock. In short, dabbing: a scare coming soon to a tabloid near you.
Loaded reporter Robert McCallum has written for many leading culture magazines and websites about music, sport, science, politics, fashion and arts. Follow Robert at @therobmccallum