State of the Slab: Living the Dab Life in 2016

If concentrates aren't the most popular THC today, they will be soon.

Over the past half of a decade, dabbing has completely disrupted the weed world.

And just more than halfway through 2016, the concentrate scene is shedding its social stigma within the cannabis community as the "crack cocaine of weed." Displayed now on the top shelf, retail wax sales are gaining traction among consumers outside of "errl's" niche core. New extraction processes yield dabbable products testing at all-time-high levels for potency and flavors. A blow torch on the coffee table is a little less alarming to parents than in previous years; but that's not to say the go-to fire for dab consumption isn't as ripe for innovation as any other weed-related-tool. Meanwhile, the term dabbing also now refers to a playful dance one of the country's presidential candidates learned how to do on Ellen

Whereas in Colorado, less teens are smoking, and more toddlers are eating their parents' cannabis products (and landing in the ER as a result); in New York, the youth demographic is way down for the dab. Reports from the Big Apple have contemporary hipsters getting stoned basically everywhere, including at school. The New York Times says dabbing is pretty much the new black:

"Underscoring the drug’s rise is a profound cultural shift: As social mores regarding marijuana have loosened, there is a sense among some that dabbing, as the practice of using the extract is popularly known, titillates because plain old pot has lost its edge."

Or perhaps marijuana is still edgy AF, especially when being consumed in increasingly more efficient ways, which cut down on wasted plant matter, in search of a cleaner, more flavorful high. 

To successfully pull off a flavorful dab, without being sent whirling and spun as hell through space and time, knowing the proper dosage is paramount. On The Cannabist Show, the Denver-based publication’s concentrate columnist Ry Prichard waxes on about how different flavor terpenes and cannabinoids can be more pronounced and recognizable when delivered unto the endocannabinoid system via a skillful dab: 

“[Dabbing is] a better flavor experience, it’s deeper experience,” Prichard says. “Something that is 1 or 2 percent terpenes, you can get to 10 percent.” Prichard says the narrative that all dabs end in comas is “misguided.” Extending Prichard’s logic into metaphor: If a bowl of hybrid flower nugs is a fresh green salad; a dab is cold-pressed juice. 

Concentrates come in many shapes, sizes, textures and consistencies. They vary based on the method of production and the intended consumer. There’s glass-like shatter, crumble that looks like honeycomb; buttery resins that resemble cake and cookie batter. Extract brand Phytodabs even produces a crystalline, CBD dab, that looks like meth powder, but is mostly non-psychoactive, legal in all 50 states, and can be ordered online.

Typically the consumption process resembles free-basing, or smoking harder drugs, in that a surface is heated with a butane-powered blowtorch before the substance is placed on it to be inhaled. Hence the negative stigma. 

Locking down the perfect dab also has a lot to do with the temperature at which it is blasted from THC-infused booger, to euphoric bliss. “Low-temp dabs” are seen by some concentrate consumers as the only way to go. The method can be achieved on nearly any dabbing surface––bangers, nails; ceramic, titanium, or quartz glass. I have a friend who dabs with a temperature gun and stopwatch in close reach, to make sure he’s hitting the rig at just the right moment. 

Sometimes the blowtorch-to-nail scenario is overwhelming, or just inconvenient; which is where electronic, portable dabbing devices and concentrate pens enter the market. The Cannabist’s Prichard calls the vape pen the “middle-ground” between a traditional flower smoker and a concentrate connoisseur. And e-nails, especially with digital temperature readers, make pinpointing temperature accuracy easier than while using a torch. One

Weed world startup Dabado is one of the brands leading dabbing's next wave. Dabado's "Bolt" fuses the traditional e-nail with the pen mentality and the aesthetics of a lightsaber; and is basically a portable, electronic dab rig. 

According to Forbes, the Dabado company will end its first year of sales at $3M, and sees the medical cannabis patient who's in need of a stronger dose, but perhaps hesitant to bust out the blowtorch, as its key customer demographic. One of the Dabado's co-founders told the publication, “Concentrates are shaping the future of cannabis.”

But maybe this future is already here.