Dabbing: Where The Two Worlds of Recreational & Medicinal Cannabis Collide

Over the past few years, the cannabis universe has been increasingly influenced by the dabbing trend. Also known as shatter, wax, budda, crumble, etc, this hash oil extracted from the marijuana plant isn't only being consumed by 20something stoners seeking the highest high. Although recent producers are seeing numbers as high as 93% THC, the other end of these developments has led to oral doses of CBD concentrations, the sister-cannabinoid to THC that has shown effective treatment of seizures and inflammation, among other health issues.

With a closer examination of the facets of this sticky, gooey phenomenon, one can see a metaphor for weed's perpetual struggle for legitimacy. For even though the testimonials of medical benefits are too numerous to count, so are the images of burn-outs, and the sky high potency of today's concentrates is aligning stoners with the likes of harder drugs users.

The recent coverage in mainstream magazines like National Geographic and Time has shone a brighter light on the complicated but thrilling medical potential of marijuana's cannabinoid system. THC and CBD are only two of at least 80 other chemical compounds in the plant; there's no telling how many diseases could be treated with strategic cannabinoid profiles.

But without rescheduling marijuana and lowering restrictions on growing within medical research facilities, we won't see those discoveries for a while. That being said, stalled legalization hasn't halted improvements in what everyone is smoking. The combination of grey market trends in the medical marijuana industry and increasing research in qualified institutions has led to higher potencies everywhere. Innovations in extraction and intake have led to user-friendly vaporizer pens that make easy transitions for those new to concentrates, and are way easier on the lungs. While all this means more effective medicine for those accustomed to smoking an eighth of flower for relief, it also means higher highs for the healthy.

Though medical trials and triumphs span tv networks and news publications, concentrate culture on social media shows the distant opposite end of the spectrum. The Instagram generation didn't need much time to get creative with the range of textures provided by cannabis extracts, and as smokers' tolerances rise, so do the followers of the accounts with impressive dabbing skills.

Wild smoke ring designs, oil-coated joints, and even lingerie-clad bong-tokers span weed feeds, garnering literally millions of followers. Keeping in mind that a gram of concentrate is typically three to five times more expensive than a gram of flower, the dabbing trend falls in line with the luxe concept of "The Good Life" embedded in current youth culture. Wanting the best of the best; seeking out high-quality, organic and hand-made products; it makes sense that the buzz around this purer, stronger form of cannabis has been buoyed by college towns.

(photo credit: SheSmokesJoints Tumblr)

Because of this extremely diverse application of oils, they are their own worst enemy. The recreational trends are hurting the reputation of medical research in the field. In spite of how confusing the conversation around this slang-heavy substance can get, it's imperative that we keep talking about it.

Policy-makers ought to be familiar with the wide scope of concentrate use to better understand the most logical ways to regulate it. Like most economies, nothing is black and white. Smokers and non-smokers alike will benefit from keeping track of local legislative proceedings and getting involved when the discussion is missing important points. The fact is, you or a loved one may rely on a cannabis-based prescription down the line, and the decisions being made now will determine the availability and quality of future medicine.