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Dab Weed Health Effects, Addiction, Overdose & Treatment

Dab Weed: What is Dabbing?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, cannabis plants are covered by microscopic, mushroom-shaped, hair-like compounds called trichomes. These outgrowths surround the budding marijuana flower and produce the plant’s cannabinoids. Different varieties of trichomes can be collected. The resulting products—collectively called cannabis concentrates—can contain very high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly referred to as THC, the psychotropic ingredient in marijuana. These THC-rich marijuana products may be vaporized and inhaled using a vape pen or through a process called dabbing. [1]

Dab weed is a concentrated form of cannabis that comes in a variety of textures. They are consumed in a dab rig, e-rig—”electronic rig”—or dab pen. The process of dabbing is extremely hot and flash vaporizes dabs in the range of 400-600°F, whereas combusting or smoking flower happens at around 350°F. 

Weed Dab
Dab Weed may look like a gooey liquid wax, a soft solid with a texture like lip balm, or a hard, amber-colored solid

A typical dab rig for dab weed looks similar to a bong—it has a mouthpiece connected to a chamber with water, except instead of a bowl for flower, a rig has a nail for dabs. Because of the high temperatures needed to dab, the nail is usually heated with a torch and allowed to cool to the right temperature before dropping in a dab.

Dab weeds are named for their texture, and their texture is indicative of the process used to create them. There are numerous extraction methods to create a myriad of different dabs. All dabs are sticky and can be messy to work with, and can be a variety of colors: yellow, amber, brown, and even white.  

Dab Weed: How are concentrates made?

Marijuana concentrates can be made in a commercial environment with modern equipment or prepared in a home setting. They are produced in various ways, including:

  • Combining pressure with heat
  • Using nonflammable carbon dioxide solvents
  • Using flammable solvents, including butane (lighter fluid), propane, ether or alcohol.
  • Dry processing
  • Dry ice processing
  • Water-based processing

Using flammable solvents is popular because the products have high THC levels, users report longer-lasting effects, and it is a relatively inexpensive and efficient production method. Butane is a commonly used solvent, producing the potent marijuana concentrate butane hash oil (BHO). [1]

Dab Weed: What does the final product look like?

The products resulting from these methods may be:

  • A gooey liquid wax
  • A soft solid with a texture like lip balm
  • A hard, amber-colored solid

Hash oil and waxes can be consumed using vape pens. Solids can also be placed on a heated platform usually made of titanium, quartz, or ceramic, where they are vaporized by high heat and inhaled through a dabbing tool, often called a rig.

Dab Weed: The difference between concentrates, extracts, and dabs

The terms used to describe these products vary. Concentrates is a broad term referring to all products that have been extracted from the plant. Although extracts and concentrates are often used interchangeably, some people define extracts as products manufactured using solvents, but not those pulled from the plant with non-solvent methods. Dab weed may refer to products made exclusively from butane hash oil; however, the term is sometimes used colloquially for concentrates extracted in other ways. There are also post-production methods that lead to further variations in products and terms. [1] 

Dab Weed: Health effects of concentrates

There are adverse effects associated with marijuana use in any form, though additional research is needed to understand how the use of concentrate may differ from smoking dried marijuana buds. Marijuana concentrates have very high levels of THC. Solvent-based products tend to be especially potent, with THC levels documented at an average of about 54-69% and reported to exceed 80%, while non-solvent-based extraction methods produce average THC levels between 39-60%.

In comparison, the THC content in marijuana plant material, which is often used in marijuana cigarettes, is lower—with samples seized by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency averaging just over 15%. [2] Not only do concentrates have high levels of THC, but dabbers inhale the entire amount all at once—in a single breath.

Dab Weed
Dab weed is a concentrated form of cannabis that comes in a variety of textures. They are consumed in a dab rig, e-rig—”electronic rig”—or dab pen.

As a result, concentrates can deliver extremely large amounts of THC to the body quickly. The risks of physical dependence and addiction increase with exposure to high concentrations of THC, and higher doses of THC are more likely to produce anxiety, agitation, paranoia, and psychosis.6 Additional research is needed to understand how the use of concentrate affects these risks.

In addition, contaminants in concentrate products may be cause for concern. One study noted that 80% of tested concentrate samples were contaminated in some form, not only with pesticides (which is also a concern for dried bud) but also with residual solvents that were not fully purged in the manufacturing process. 

Users of BHO, for example, likely inhale some butane and other impurities along with the vaporized THC. It is important to note that direct inhalation of concentrated butane among recreational inhalant users carries multiple risks, including reported deaths. However, it is unclear what negative health outcomes result from the inhalation of residual butane, other solvents, or leftover contaminants during the dabbing process.

Dab Weed: Is it dangerous to make solvent-based concentrates?

When solvents are used to produce concentrates, the preparation process itself can be dangerous. Many people using butane to make extracts at home have caused fires and explosions and have been seriously burned. A study conducted in 2015 looking at implications from marijuana legalization in Colorado reported that in a 2-year period the University of Colorado burn center saw a substantial increase in the number of flash burns that occurred during amateur THC extraction using butane, some involving more than 70% of body surface area and most requiring skin grafting. [3] 

It is against federal law to manufacture BHO, and even in some states where adult use of marijuana is legal, like Colorado and California, it is illegal to make hash oil using flammable liquids. In Colorado, state officials recommend alternate methods using nonflammable dry ice (CO2), ice water, or purchasing the product from a licensed marijuana retail store. Most licensed, commercial production facilities use a safer extraction system that prevents solvents from being wasted or exposed to the open air where they could inadvertently be ignited, similar to decades-old systems used in the production of many commercial products.

Dab Weed: Effects on the brain

Short-Term Effects

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when a person consumes marijuana, THC quickly passes from the lungs into the bloodstream. The blood carries the chemical to the brain and other organs throughout the body. The body absorbs THC more slowly when the person eats or drinks it. In that case, they generally feel the effects after 30 minutes to 1 hour. [4]

THC acts on specific brain cell receptors that ordinarily react to natural THC-like chemicals. These natural chemicals play a role in normal brain development and function. Weed over activates parts of the brain that contain the highest number of these receptors. This causes the “high” that people feel. Other effects include:

  • Altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
  • Altered sense of time
  • Changes in mood
  • Impaired body movement
  • Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • Impaired memory
  • Hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
  • Delusions (when taken in high doses)
  • Psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana)

Long-Term Effects

Weed also affects brain development. When people begin using marijuana as teenagers, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Researchers are still studying how long marijuana’s effects last and whether some changes may be permanent.

For example, a study from New Zealand conducted in part by researchers at Duke University showed that people who started smoking marijuana heavily in their teens and had an ongoing marijuana use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between ages 13 and 38. The lost mental abilities didn’t fully return in those who quit marijuana as adults. Those who started smoking marijuana as adults didn’t show notable IQ declines. [5] 

In another recent study on twins, those who used marijuana showed a significant decline in general knowledge and verbal ability (equivalent to 4 IQ points) between the preteen years and early adulthood, but no predictable difference was found between twins when one used marijuana and the other didn’t. This suggests that the IQ decline in marijuana users may be caused by something other than marijuana, such as shared familial factors (e.g., genetics, family environment). [4]

Dab Weed: Physical Effects

  • Breathing problems: Marijuana smoke irritates the lungs, and people who smoke marijuana frequently can have the same breathing problems as those who smoke tobacco. These problems include daily cough and phlegm, more frequent lung illness, and a higher risk of lung infections. Researchers so far haven’t found a higher risk for lung cancer in people who smoke marijuana.
  • Increased heart rate: Marijuana raises heart rate for up to 3 hours after smoking. This effect may increase the chance of heart attack. Older people and those with heart problems may be at higher risk.
  • Intense nausea and vomiting: Regular, long-term marijuana use can lead to some people to develop Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome. This causes users to experience regular cycles of severe nausea, vomiting, and dehydration, sometimes requiring emergency medical attention. [4]

Dab Weed: Can a person overdose on marijuana?

People who use marijuana can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana products with high THC levels, like dab weed. People have reported symptoms such as anxiety and paranoia, and in rare cases, an extreme psychotic reaction (which can include delusions and hallucinations) that can lead them to seek treatment in an emergency room. While a psychotic reaction can occur following any method of use, emergency room responders have seen an increasing number of cases involving marijuana edibles.

dab weed
People who use marijuana can feel some very uncomfortable side effects, especially when using marijuana products with high THC levels, like dab weed.

Some people (especially preteens and teens) who know very little about edibles don’t realize that it takes longer for the body to feel marijuana’s effects when eaten rather than smoked. So they consume more of the edible, trying to get high faster or thinking they haven’t taken enough. In addition, some babies and toddlers have been seriously ill after ingesting marijuana or marijuana edibles left around the house.

Dab Weed: Is marijuana addictive?

Marijuana use can lead to the development of a substance use disorder, a medical illness in which the person is unable to stop using even though it’s causing health and social problems in their life. Severe substance use disorders are also known as addiction. Research suggests that between 9 and 30 percent of those who use marijuana may develop some degree of marijuana use disorder. People who begin using marijuana before age 18 are four to seven times more likely than adults to develop a marijuana use disorder.

Many people who use marijuana long-term and are trying to quit report mild withdrawal symptoms that make quitting difficult. These include:

  • Grouchiness
  • Sleeplessness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Cravings

Dab Weed: Marijuana Addiction Treatment

Due to societal pressures, Marijuana can be one of the hardest substances to give up. The increasing social acceptance of Marijuana contributes to this in the same way it contributes to alcoholics not wanting to quit. Many people with an addiction don’t feel they have a problem, and those around them may not see it as a problem either; this does not mean that those same individuals wouldn’t benefit tremendously from Marijuana addiction treatment.

No medications are currently available to treat marijuana use disorder, but behavioral support is effective. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free). Continuing research may lead to new medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of marijuana, and prevent relapse.

Dab Weed
To treat marijuana use disorder, behavioral support is effective. Examples include therapy and motivational incentives (providing rewards to patients who remain drug-free).

Many people use Marijuana daily and have all the traditional symptoms of an addict. These are people who cannot control their use no matter the consequences. Those who receive treatment for a Marijuana addiction are predominantly individuals who have chronically used Marijuana daily.

Reclaim your life from Dab Weed

Weed Addiction is a serious condition that can cause severe health, social and economic problems that should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Treatment Center can provide you, or someone you love, the tools to recover from the effects of Dab Weed with professional and safe treatment. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.


[1] National Institute on Drug Abuse – Marijuana Concentrates DrugFacts (

[2] U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (

[3] Monte AA, Zane RD, Heard KJ. The implications of marijuana legalization in Colorado. JAMA. 2015;313(3):241-2. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2014.17057.

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse – Marijuana DrugFacts (

[5] Meier MH, Caspi A, Ambler A, et al. Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012;109(40): E2657-E2664. doi:10.1073/pnas.1206820109.