For the casual weed consumer, dabbing can seem like the final frontier.
In the purest terms, it involves inhaling highly concentrated doses of THC, leading to a much more potent high than smoking raw flower. To the uninitiated, the process—involving a blowtorch, metal "nails" and oil-like substances with names like "shatter," "wax" and "crumble"—brings to mind much more illicit forms of drug consumption, and the potential for getting way more stoned than desired seems high. In short, it's intimidating.
But data show that cannabis concentrates are getting increasingly more popular in Oregon. While vapes still control that corner of the market, sales of live resin and wax are up 242 and 138 percent, respectively, from last year, and concentrates overall command the second-highest percentage of market share.
It is perhaps a sign that, as the state's recreational cannabis industry matures, elevated forms of consumption, such as dabbing, are growing more accessible. But how do you know if you're ready to make the leap? We asked Jordan Jacobsen, founder of extraction lab and dispensary Portland Extracts, a few basic questions about how to get started.
WW: How do I know if I'm ready to dab?
Jordan Jacobsen: I think it happens with people in two different ways. Someone who has smoked a lot of flower and is interested in new types of cannabis products—maybe they've smoked flower for a long period of time and maybe it's not giving them the desired effect it once was. It could also be pure health. Some people don't like to combust. They don't like to have actual smoke from a flame go into their lungs, so they vape it. And that's what dabbing is—it's just vaping.
How does the high differ?
It [depends on] whether or not the company then adds back the natural terpenes for that product. Your extracts, your shatters, your live resins—those are all going to be very flavorful. All those terpenes, all those oils, those have also been concentrated in the extraction process, so the flavors of those oils and the effects of those terpenes are much more prevalent in a shatter or an extract.
What are the benefits of dabbing?
It's going to be much less harsh on your lungs and your body as a whole. Other benefits, obviously, are medicinal. If someone is truly using a product for medicinal purposes, usually flower doesn't get them to that medicinal level they need to be at, so that's why they turn to a more concentrated product, like an extract, so they can receive their medicine appropriately rather than having to smoke massive amounts of flower. From a flavor aspect and a health aspect, I think it's a wise choice, if used appropriately.
What's your recommendation for starting out?
We like to say, and we're supposed to say, there's 25 servings per gram. It's a very small portion of the gram—1/25th.
In terms of shopping for a dab rig, what should I be looking for?
Don't spend the much money at first. Get basic stuff and don't go too crazy, and make sure it's something you want to invest in. But what I usually suggest to people is go small, test it out, and if it's something you feel can enhance your life, look at things like Instagram, poke your head into glass shops. There are great little pieces out there people can get for under $100.
Are there ways to smoke without a dab rig?
Pens are sold everywhere—those are very popular for on-the-go dabs. I don't recommend combusting oil. I can't tell you how many people come in to buy a gram for their bowls. Depending on the consistency, you can [combust]—especially with solventless products. You can get a crumble and sprinkle that on a bowl and it'll combust decently. But then you can also get a very runny or sappy-type extract and something like that will just get your weed wet and probably ruin your joint.
Is it possible to bake into an edible?
That's a big thing a lot of people do. They might not even dab or vape, but they will come in, buy 5 grams of oil and make 100 edibles. Not a lot of people understand that all you have to do is throw a gram of shatter or oil on the cooking tray, and once you decarb it, it's fully live and active. You can put that right into your butter. If you want your money to go a long way, that's how to stretch it with cannabis.
Have you ever accidentally gotten too high yourself?
Maybe when I was kid, when I just smoking flower back then. When I was a little 16-year-old, I've probably been too high. But that's neither here nor there.