Oils

Happy National Dab Day: A cannabis oil explainer

Yes, fellow stoners. In addition to Independence Day and other summertime celebrations of life, liberty and tilling the earth, July 10th is now marked as a stoner jubilee, a hash holiday and a Day of Dabs. Why this date? Because, 1) marijuana oil is an Idea Whose Time Has Come and 2) in true stoner whimsy, the date was selected because 7-10 spelled backward and upside-down spells “oil” (sorta).

What is marijuana oil, you ask? To begin, more than one type of oil may be extracted from marijuana and its products. Here’s a rundown:

Hemp oil: Though very low in THC content, hemp oil enthusiasts claim the stuff conditions rough skin, boosts immunity, even helps prevent varicose veins. Taken directly from raw hemp seeds, hemp oil is used in dozens of ways, including cooking, but has no psychoactive properties.

CBD: Often used in pain relief, CBD oil is also non-psychoactive and made from the stalks of marijuana plants.

BHO: Popularly known as “dab,” “wax” or “shatter,” Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is yet another type, this one the sticky and head-busting end product of a somewhat dangerous extraction method in which heat and highly combustible butane are involved.

RSO: “Phoenix Tears” (also called Rick Simpson Oil or RSO) is produced via a long, often alcohol-based process. Its inventor claims he cured his own cancer with it.

Cooking oil: In edibles, psychoactive effects are usually obtained via cannabis cooking oil, which may be made at home using flower and much patience.

Cooking with MJ oil presents its challenges. Indeed, even weed lube can cause problems if you drink an entire bottle of the stuff, so the public confusion over oil extracted from marijuana is understandable, if a bit mystifying to veteran marijuana users content to get high from smoking.

So, “Dab Day” is more properly a celebration of the more psychoactive hash oils, such as BHO and its safer-to-make, easier-to-take cousin CO2 oil, the kind found in vape cartridges. Whether ingested slowly via bong or pipe, or (for most profound results) all at once when superheated by blowtorch in a specially prepared rig, BHO is extremely potent and typically makes the lungs of even hardcore hash veterans explode in fits of loud coughing. Visitors to those speakeasy-type “dab bars” now popping up in selected cities are invariability greeted at the door with frenzies of hacking and wheezing out of dabbers with one foot on the rail and visibly tottering.

If BHO is the moonshine whiskey of marijuana extracts, CO2 oil is the three-star Hennessy. Made via “supercritical fluid extraction,” a complicated equipment-heavy process baffling to most non-chemists, this oil is safer and far more palatable to the taste. This method results in terpene concentrations loaded with THC. The most popular form of CO2 oil may be found in commercial vape cartridges, which may be refilled or simply disposed of after use. The kicker for discrete types is the resulting fumes have little to no tell-tale MJ odor and dissipate in the air like steam. The taste is generally smoother and less harsh than smoked flower.

Of course, anyone who has ever tried home cooking experimentation with cannabis oil or hashish butter knows that there’s a large margin for error in potency. Effects often vary from imperceptible to obliterating, and many’s the veteran stoner that wound up non-functionally high for a day or more through heedless ingestion of an entire 200 mg pot brownie. Smoked cannabis goes to the brain nearly immediately but, once eaten, THC gets metabolized through the liver and stored in body fat, so release is longer and much less predictable. Finding out your personal tolerance for THC this way is an uncertain business involving much experimentation. The upside to edibles is vastly improved pain relief once one’s preferred dose is known.

The mainstreaming of cannabis culture is far out in front of public knowledge of how THC works. In celebrating this new holiday, let sturdy common sense be your guide and exercise caution. The buzz you save may be your own.

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