The Potential Political Impact of Dabbing, Concentrates and Edibles

Like many marijuana smokers, I’m always fascinated when I travel to other states, especially on the West Coast, and see the popularity of edibles and concentrates, especially the somewhat bizarre practice of “dabbing.”

Now let me be clear that I enjoy getting high, and I’m generally willing to try any variation of marijuana, at least once, just to see what it’s about. So I’m not making a moral judgment on the use of these more potent forms of marijuana. I will also concede that I personally love smoking flowers, and prefer the quality of a flower high to that of the concentrates.

But that’s simply a personal preference shaped by decades of rolling and smoking joints. I’m an old guy and somewhat set in my ways.

What I want to discuss in this column is the potentially adverse political fallout from the increasing popularity of these newer, more potent forms of marijuana. Specifically, I want to sound the alarm that the perceived abuses of edibles and concentrates have the potential to undermine the powerful political momentum we have achieved for full legalization, by frightening many of our supporters–particularly the non-smokers–and causing them to reconsider their positions on cannabis reform.


45 thoughts

  1. I am of the opinion tha with these stronger concentrated forms being available. The “typical stoner” stereotype will be pushed to the forefront again… destroying the legitimacy of all the hard working people who enjoy cannabis in a responsible way while being active and prominent members of their community.

  2. The last thing we want is the government setting a maximum limit and making any % above it illegal like Minister Opstelten and his 15% garbage. This reminds me of pure ethyl grain alcohol versus low alcohol content consumption so far as putting a scare into the public and having them back off supporting an issue.

    That being said, use of just the flowers should be what is encouraged, especially for beginners and those out of practice who used to have a high tolerance and think they can still handle it. Same thing for cannabis edibles. I’m not against dabbing and would prefer people use personal responsibility to use it responsible so we don’t have Maureen Dowd repeats with dabbing and edibles. If you can handle it, take it easy and fire it up, take a bite, use informed consumption and responsible practices.

  3. this is what i’ve been sayin for like over a year now. jeez! lol. i mean you don’t need a blowtorch to smoke a joint for christ sakes. and we shouldn’t open ourselves to attacks about explosive butane and “drug labs”. sorry, i’m just concerned that BHO will be used against our movement. to someone who is not used to drug culture, seeing videos of people dabbing would be appalling.

    it’s not like these attacks will be realistic, but i can totally see how the drug warriors are going to play this out. and it’s likely that the DEA, NIDA and ONDCP **want** this stuff promoted so they have something to attack later. and i’m guessing they are using narcs to promote this stuff as a sort of psyop.

    I’m not saying dabs should be illegal, but that we should be careful in how this stuff is publicized. honestly the stuff is too strong for me. weed is plenty good enough.

    edibles are great though, when used within reason. this is my preferred means of ingestion, as it makes me feel good, without affecting my head too much. it’s especially good for my back pain. and it is *only* availabled practically within a legalized system. if i have to obtain ounces of pot and spend hours making cannabutter, i’m sorry that’s not practical for me. i just want to buy a chocolate bar that’s been made by experienced people who know what they’re doing.

  4. I am a staunch supporter of all forms of cannabis being legalized for adults, and I love the idea of edibles. However, unlike a dried bag of weed, a child is likely to come across a box of edibles and think it’s Russell stover chocolates and down 4 or 5. I don’t know that there would be any long term damage, but I can see a harrowing visit to an er coming from these, and when that happens, that will be all the naysayers will need to “prove” how deadly pot is. there needs to be something in place to address this risk with the edibles. Maybe a childproof container.

  5. I agree with the Oracle, some are more powerful than others like grain alcohol compared to beer. The butter I make is from just plain shake, whereas I’ve had brownies made with the keef, and that shit was hardcore even for myself who has used medicinals my whole adult life. Personal responsibility, taste and moderation should always be practised no matter what the subject.

  6. I think the choice should be the consumer. The strength of the concentrates are a good way to Incorporate it into foods, I would have to smoke in its raw form (when legal for me), due to a sensitivity to the strength that i can easily adjust for me.

  7. For some of us smoking is not an option. I have a history of bronchitis and would much prefer edibles to smoking.
    And since when is it anyone’s business what form a person chooses. I have become deeply disappointed in NORML for cowtowing to government in order to get some form of legalization.
    This idea of saying you will go along with taxing cannabis so it can be legalized only perpetuates the drug war. With an added tax burden of up to 40 or 50% many cannot afford legal cannabis and are forced into the black market.
    Whether edible or smokable we should not be giving in to tyrannical governments. Better to smoke or eat what is illegal than pay these bastards.

    [Editor’s note: Kowtowing to the government? NORML?! You complain about cannabis being taxed (and those monies actually benefiting society…), but what about the outrageous cost of cannabis because of prohibition itself? Cannabis should not cost $200-$500 per ounce for consumers or patients–Cannabis is a pennies on the pound agricultural crop absent the government’s failed prohibition in place.

    But, you’d rather have the government keep arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating cannabis producers and consumers en mass rather than pay a vice tax on retail cannabis sales on par with alcohol and tobacco?

    Talk about being a ‘bastard’! What is worse, a short sighted and cheap cannabis consumer who supports the status quo of prohibition or anti-cannabis zealots who believe that cannabis use is a moral turpitude? Really, which is worse to keep prohibition going long after a majority of the country wants legalization?]

  8. I don’t know if concentrates hurts us, or helps us. I do know, public opinion has started to shift.
    Keeping it simple.
    I believe all drugs should be legal. Not because I have any interest in using them, but because a law against them, doesn’t stop people from using them. Smart people will still not use those certain *hard drugs* as the way it is now. It won’t change the number of people who still use. Laws against what we are allowed to place in our own bodies, will never work. People will use and abuse drugs until world’s end. Even as a republican, I feel the system is not working. Laws can be made to change this, and I believe it’s time to reconsider, not only the Marijuana laws, but all drug laws.

    I hope, that public opinion remains, even with the Eatables and Concentrates. Legalization will probably come slow, but it is coming. And probably will be here in as little as 10 years. They will probably hopefully just regulate the concentrates a little harder, like liquor. Although, I doubt for some reason, you can oversmoke yourself to death, on even concentrates. I get to a point, which I can no longer smoke anymore. It sometimes takes me half an hour, just to come down enough, to be able to smoke more.
    I have a feeling, concentrates would get me there, in a single toke. :D. Definitely wouldn’t complain. Of course, I believe I would sometimes rather get to smoke a little more, just to enjoy the smoking itself. Which in a way sounds funny. I do not enjoy smoking tobacco. I try a tad bit every now and then while drunk, and I can’t stand it. It is one of the worst tastes there is. But cannabis, I enjoy the smoke. So, I guess we’ll just see, if they legalize here, which I like better.

    Probably, the regular herbs, as I can enjoy smoking more. (Cannabis that is.)

  9. I Believe these forms can still be used for Medicinal purposes. These are concentrates. If a patient needs CBD’s he can concentrate just that. so in the event he/she does not have enough time to sit an smoke a full dosage of flowers he could take a few puffs of the concentrate and medicated a lot quicker.

    Of course you will always have those who take things to far. That is just people. There is nothing we can do about that. Its life. Some people just take things to far. others can sit back and enjoy. It is on the person what they do. Society should never be blamed for one persons mistake

  10. I use topical concentrates often, they help me better than pills without the bad side effects.

  11. To me it seems like the difference between a bottle of beer and a bottle of liquor.
    To someone who hasnt put much thought into it the topic has potential to change opinion on the matter of legalization. Lets just hope everyone who choses to use either form of cannabinoids is responsible in thier use.
    Of course if the gov did decide to make up a bunch of rules it would be largely unenforceable. Nobody seems to care much about their prohibition laws (of any substance) now so I doubt it would make much difference in the real world.

  12. Personally I thought that cannibs should have beening it has never been something that never caused irraditic behavior. Be a free choice , altough I no longer smoke thirty eight years is long enough to say. Be responsible, taxize , control, build places good for children to be able to go to. Booze causes more harm and know one could ever tell me anybeter.

  13. i don’t see what the big deal is with dabbing. as a well seasoned cannabis user and medical patient, i know that cannabis in ANY form will only get you as high and the cannabis “profile” your consuming. you get just as high thru any method of ingestion, it’s just a mattter of how quickly it effects you. where you may have ,in the past, had to smoke a whole joint now you can achieve the same with a few hits off a bowl or doing a dab. your final destination on this ride takes you to the same place even tho the journey may be different. thats where cannabis differs from other substances.

  14. There is political fallout to be had from every aspect of cannabis consumption.
    Some ignorant person is always going to have their ignore rant.
    The fact is it doesn’t matter how much or how pure no-one ever died from cannabis.
    They are in fact proving how safe cannabis is by smoking suck large amounts.
    By the way one of the criticisms is that smoking ingest ash and pollutants.
    Smoking resin reduces the amount of material ingested enormously so it is promoting healthier ingestion.

  15. A few months ago my daughter and I made a trip from Texas to Colorado and stopped at the Lazy Lion Dab Bar in Colorado Springs. I am a 38 year veteran smoker and one bong hit of the best house shatter put me way over the top. It was the highest I had ever been in my life. We spent about thirty minutes in the parking lot with the air conditioner blowing in our faces before I could get enough snap to make it a few blocks to a local park where we spent the next hour and a half walking it off. Been there,done that. I’ll stick to my flowers thank you. I can see how the dabbing scene is going to cause trouble for the legalization movement. Had I been a first timer and not known how to talk myself down I could see where turning myself in to the nearest hospital would have seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s funny now to picture two paranoid Texans sitting in the parking lot at 11:00am on a Sunday morning with our faces up to the air conditioning vents, but at the moment it seemed pretty serious.Still,no one puked,no one died, no one got their stomachs pumped,and no one had a hangover. Yea Cannabis!!

  16. We sure don’t need to give those guys any ammo to use against us. I don’t know if they can stop the movement at this point, considering that so far, there haven’t been any problems in Colorado and of course, they’re beginning to see the profit potential from all sides, but they sure could throw a wrench in the works and cause a bunch of needless debate. I would say this: For those of you who live in a state where you have either medical marijuana or legal weed, please consider those of us who have neither and are patiently waiting our turn. DON’T SCREW IT UP FOR THE REST OF US !!!

  17. I fear you are correct Mr Stroup. Those people that are, perhaps, just coming around to the realization that the law does more harm than the pot will definately question these new alternatives. i smoked pot responsibly for 40 years and have been using a vaporizer for the last 4 years. I have no desire to use anything else, but like yourself, would be open to trying an edible or dab just to learn what it is really like.

    The best solution for all users is education. People need to understand the differences between beer and whiskey as well as how a raw cannabis flower compares to an edible or concentrate. People should not be punished for choosing one over then other. The only reason anyone should be punished is if they are commiting a real crime (e.g. rape, robbery, murder, etc…). Choosing to use any variation of cannabis does not cause the user to commit crime.

    The cannabis I’ve been blessed with the last few years is of much higher quality than what I had 20 to 40 years ago and I love it! I just use much less of it to get the desired effect. That is simply what and educated responsible pothead does!

  18. I’ve never gotten so stoned that I passed out with flowers, dabs, hash or any form of marijuana. “Passing out” is something that comes from alcohol ingestion.

  19. I totally understand liking the method you use to get thc or high as you put it but I need edibles and I vape my weed mostly because I’m allergic to raw plant material. Nothing serious but still very annoying symptoms.

    The only marihuana product I think has any risk associated with it by default is BHO but there are other extraction methods that are frankly better ice bags come to mind.

    Point is the public that has been fighting against marijuana is not going to support even smoking marijuana because they think they know what science is. What? Somebody is smoking weed? Must not be medicinal because it wasn’t taken orally as a concentrate! Haven’t we all heard this a lot recently?

    I throw up every morning unless I take about 25mg thc edible before I go to bed or when I wake up. I think while smoking marijuana is medicinal however smoking simply isn’t an option for some people. I moved to colorado to be legal and have access to the medicine I need. Almost 2weeks now and I haven’t thrown up I can’t remember the last time I could say that.

    As far as dabbing goes I personally find it difficult to controls my high as well as vape bags, edibles or even smoke. I would support boycott of bho though since most places don’t purge properly, there is a risk of explosion, and there are easier, cheaper, more pure and better ways to extract.

    I think banning products is just a continuation. Of failed policies and not only will it not work it will do exactly what the drug war does… Make black markets. We all know black markets are less regulated and trusting strangers to purge butane or worse yet propane from something you will be heating and inhaling is dangerous.

    Legal forever, regulate as needed.

  20. Flowers alone are not the answer for many patients. As a medibles maker, concentrates allow for more precise dosing. This is critical when trying to steadily increase dosage for cancer and other chronic illnesses. The biggest concern I have with concentrates and edibles is dosing, packaging and labeling. I’m a proponent of low dose edibles because too many people are ignoring the labels and ending up in the ER – freaked out because they are too high. Experienced users know what to expect and how to ride out a rough dose. Newbies can end up being turned off by, or turn against, cannabis. The press always want to tell the ER stories. It’s critical that the industry establish consistent testing and labeling standards.

  21. I think what needs to happen is education. People new to cannabis are unfamiliar with the effects of eating as opposed to smoking. There is also a delay in the effect when you eat it as opposed to smoking it. This delay can lead people to eat more, thinking it is not enough. As time goes on and the public learns more this will become less of an issue. I also think that the industry should try to come up with a relatively uniform system of grading the edibles, and smok-ables so that people can better judge what they are putting in their body.

  22. This is ridiculous; if they remain illegal this just creates the MOONSHINE of Marijuana black market. All one needs to do is buy or grow a couple of ounces and extract your own Shatter,oil ect. It’s not Rocket Science!

  23. This reminds me of the story on that little girl last year who ate a cannicookie on the floor of a Colorado playground. Fox news and CNN were all over the story. “Oh my God, will this little girl be OK?!”
    Lets see what the Dr.s prognosis is to help keep this poor little girls heart beating!…
    Wait… What was that Doc? You told her… To go sit in the corner for an hour, shell be fine…
    Yeah sounds like deadly stuff.

  24. Dear Keith,

    I DO NOT see “…abuses of edibles and concentrates have the potential to undermine the powerful political momentum we have achieved for full legalization, by frightening many of our supporters…” What is needed are innovations in child proof containers for food items. We let professionals create nutrition/contents/dose labeled edibles in child proof containers. What is needed is education too. It is HIGH time that children were told the truth about pot, the good AND bad. That way they will know that some brownies are for adults only; and that they could feel sick/strange if they ate one of these things. This is the way a civilized, cultured society operates. A moronic, sociopath society bans things that they DON’T UNDERSTAND.

    As for concentrates, Keith you can’t be that much of an old dog without any new tricks. I too prefer the psychological effect of flower over concentrates. But concentrates allow a patient/consumer to use less while making it a wonderful medium to vaporize, rather than smoke. Medicinally, in my opinion, concentrates are better than flower. Again, education is KEY. This is the missing link NORML. With legalization, we need reality based drug education. Legalization states should have drug education in the schools and there should be public service ads on TV and radio educating adults. This needs to come out of the closet. This is the solution. NOT BANNING things; as you already know.

    This message comes to you under the medicinal effects of Black Diamond Indica. Peace!

  25. We should NOT ban these things – but rather make an effort to combat widespread fear and panic about these things. Unfortunately this is not easy; the people who want to use these things are young people who are looking to get messed up and are unlikely to care about the impact in the long term on our marijuana legalization movement. They probably just don’t think about these things. The priority here for us then is to keep dabs/oils aka “harsher” uses of marijuana contained, within their more extreme circles, and not out in the public eye where they may scare people and give people another marijuana-related topic to frown upon. It’s incredibly frustrating knowing people who use this stuff because I do think they create a bad taste for the responsible marijuana user. However, it is their right to be able to do what they want with their bodies, and I think if you know anyone who uses that stuff it might just be worth mentioning to them that in this time of political movement and legalization it is more important than ever that we make marijuana seem safe and mature to non-smokers and not give the media more scare-tactics to fuel anti-legalization movements. Talking to fellow smokers about this and making sure that they are aware of the impact they have on society when using harsher forms of marijuana such as dabs is incredibly helpful I think because it will help to give them perspective. Also talking to non-smokers and telling them that not every marijuana smoker uses dabs, just as not every person who drinks a glass of wine after dinner likes to throw back ten shots. Same concept.

  26. I agree with the author that we should be extremely concerned. Controversy surrounding one of these products could easily EASILY destroy the momentum of our entire movement.

    In the 80’s, what turned the country against tolerance was the incredible fear stirred up by the rise of crack cocaine. Mothers literally trembled at the idea of little Johnny being exposed to what was considered (for a while) a genuinely evil drug. That wave pushed everything back, including marijuana.

    Dabbing and edibles are both demonstrably more dangerous that smoking. I for one think we should waste zero energy legitimizing these forms of consumption. That is, until well AFTER smoking is legal throughout the land. Our battle for that is still FAR FAR from over.

    I for one think stores would be wise to decline selling dabbing supplies. It’s smart business to avoid anything that could destroy your entire industry. Most of them don’t need to sell edibles, either.

    The movement has come too far to let something like this derail us. It is not paranoid to say that our enemies would LOVE to use either of these issues to keep all forms of weed illegal. So let’s preemptively contain any PR damage that might result.

  27. Comment to Ephraim: “concerning your post suggesting Norml is not standing up to the Gov.; I read the following by Norml’s Director
    (Norml pls. correct me if I am wrong); I read:

    Allen St. Pierre wrote: Norml has engaged in the longest Court Case in US History “22 years
    to get MJ from a Schedule I to a Schedule 2 !”

    I think this settles the debate; Thank you !AR

  28. The only thing that will help this cause is education. Education on what dabbing is, what edibles are, and even smoking the flower. It should also be pointed at the younger generations so that they will be able to make an informed decision about marijuana themselves. It’s not about legalization in my opinion, it is about education. So few are informed about what they put in their body or even how to properly put it there which is where the scare lies. I also think that the ‘Reefer Madness’ we are going through with the opposite opinion on marijuana will eventually die out as that generations starts to die. I feel we should be more focused on the education of all drugs, sex, alcohol, tobacco, etc. These things have been given a stigma that they are evil and to stay away from them. With DARE and Just Say No, etc those kinds of programs just make teens want to do the drugs more. Only when we have compiled more research and statistics on all drugs can we educate the youth and take the terror out of marijuana, whichever form it may come in.
    Also, personally, I prefer smoking the flower. Dabs are too complicated, take too long, and honestly the blow torches just freak me out, but I won’t say no to someone offering it to me!

  29. @Chief Fox – So I guess that ill people who get more relief from concentrates than flowers are chumps? Sorry, but I have to disagree with you here. This is one of the reasons why marijuana is wonderful. It’s versatile.

    However, I think Stroup has brought up some very important points. We have to be careful about how marijuana prohibitionists will play on people’s fears if we are not careful about concentrates and edibles. This is why education is very, very, very important.

    And although smoking may work for Stroup, it does not work for me. I prefer edibles, then after that, concentrates. As a matter of fact, if the only way I could use marijuana was by smoking flowers, I would have quit using it a long time ago. Luckily, I was informed about the delayed effects of consumption over smoking, so I was careful trying edibles for the first time. So, an experience that could have had me going to the ER was instead pleasant and enjoyable.

    Although marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, it still needs to be respected. What has to pointed out here is that education is key. Especially since marijuana prohibitionists rely so much on ignorance.

    But, despite Stroup’s justifiable concerns, we are still winning. We just need to understand as much as possible what tactics marijuana prohibitionists may use to delay the inevitable longer than necessary.

  30. I’mlicensed to smoke for my spine pain. I use the cbd oil in edibles. It works. I don’t care for smoking nor the thc effect. The pain is far more defeated by the oil than anything BigPharma produces. Fyi.

  31. I liked your article Keith…I had to chuckle a bit because I had just finished reading about NY’s recent medical marijuana laws…

  32. As an edibles maker. I see all types of problems. We test every step of the way. All products are made in house from natural ingredients. Concentrates do not provide the pain relief that traditional low heat extractions do. Also where was that concentrate made? from what? by who? I’ve read if you make concentrates from weed with high levels of pesticide. You get high levels of toxic chemicals. I won’t take a chance that one of my patients, could be harmed.

  33. The use of concentrate has been around almost as long as the use of flower. People are simply scared by the change in extraction methods and the idea of using torches to heat up a “nail” for cannabis consumption. I have heard they expression that dabbing is like the crack of cannabis and this is often miss represented by the use of a torch. Say what you want about the dangers of political inference, but the fact still remains that the use of cannabis in the form of dabbing and consuming edibles is the healthiest way to get your daily dose of Cannabinoids provided by the cannabis plant. The extraction methods developed in Colorado have proven to provide the puriest form of concentrate. Helping to eliminate a large consumption of carbon material, butane vapor and any other impurities associated with the smoking of flower. If our real concern is for the drug abuse in this country maybe we should focus on education and assistance for those seeking addiction problems rather than scare tactics that have been nothing but failure sense this drug war began. It is easier to fool people then to convince them they are being fooled. That is why the propaganda worked in the first place, because it fooled people. People who are incapable of being productive from consuming cannabis are most likely just lazy people in the first place or don’t know there limits when using drugs and need help with abuse problems. Yes drug abuse can lead to addiction problems physically and mentally, but misinformation “especially coming out of the cannabis culture” will only help sway political agenda against our freedoms of choice.

  34. Hello; I was interested in what Mike wrote:
    “I use topical concentrates often, they help me better than pills without the bad side effects.” –
    Anne: I was prescribed “Marinol off label” at my request to boost my appetite as I am Vegetarian and worry about Nutritional needs:

    I thought Marinol was effective for me: I quit the Marinol due to the high cost; I was wondering Mike: What do you mean: “Topicals” ?

    How would one use Topical Marijuana ? Anne/USA

  35. [High] — ANNE Queene of da Greene,

    Cannabis topicals, one of my favorites. Right now I’m using a topical that I bought from my local dispensary to heal some skin damage due to sun. It is clearing up spots, moles, tags and giving me back normal skin. Concentrate oils are especially necessary to create effective topicals that can be applied on the skin for any number of healing benefits, from pain relief to treating skin cancers. An ignorant and fearful marijuana legalization movement would be doing a huge disservice to mankind by excluding concentrates, which may prove to be one of the greatest medicines known to mankind. A medicine that can cure cancer!

    In the future when marijuana is fully legal and companies are no longer afraid to be associated with it, I predict that the number one beauty skin cream in the future with have cannabis oil. The natural healing benefits of cannabis oil will revolutionize the skin care industry in the future legal marijuana economies. We can not tolerate ignorance in our legalization movement; we must be armed with knowledge and education for both our supporters as well as our foes.

  36. (I think my computer is working better..)Hi
    and thanks for your replies about Tinctures and Topicals ! I would be interested in making a Tincture with The Marijuana Herb !!

    I do not know if Conn. will have “topicals” avail. I hope so ! So please post on tincture!
    Appreciate your time and info…save da green!

  37. Note: there is a great video I watched called

    “Hemporium”; I did not get the full website;

    they talk about “MJ Seeds and health benefits!

    I think almost all Herbs are “for our Health!!

  38. yo Keith!

    i met you at the Empire State NORML St. Patty’s Day press release outside city hall in 2012.

    I was the only Occupier who decided to leave Zuccotti for this press release.

    But while the Occupy movement has slowed down, NORML is taking it further!

    I share your opinion Mr. Stroup, i like my hemp rolling papers and burning weed.

    glad to have met you, i hope someday that the laws are relaxed in NY State so we can burn one together and not have to be in a panic about it. Peace.

    p.s. im taking civil service exams so i cant smoke pot. if the police department calls me, i just might take the job. it’s a cruel world, i wish more people were turned on to pot.

  39. I make topicals for my back pain. It works great. Better than being on pills. I was told card or not the oil is a felony.

  40. I believe the “fallout” will be Folks will stop eating 20 times the recommended amount.

    I also see accurate labeling as something that needs to happen now, not whenever.

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