R. Jeanette Martin
Marijuana is completely harmless until you add butane. In a process called dabbing, medical marijuana users are getting more bang for their buck. The only problem is, if they don't know what they're doing, that bang could come from an explosion. You are, after all, working with a flammable substance.
The tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from cannabis plants is stripped out using butane, which is then evaporated, leaving a potent, sticky, weedy, waxy substance commonly referred to as "wax," "budder," BHO (butane hash oil) or "shatter."
Professional potheads refer to inhaling these ganja globs as "doin' a dab." First-timers break out in sweats, get really high and have to sit down. Even pros have fallen over, "greening out" after too big a dab. Some have compared the sensation to getting stoned for the first time.
For medical marijuana patients, dabbing and using pot extracts provide improved relief from their symptoms.
Contrary to recent marijuana myth-making, solvent-based extracts have been around since the 1970s, but budder is experiencing a new surge in popularity among hip heads.
Stoners are turning to budder when toking two joints just won't do. Doin' a dab is common among my cannabis-using friends because they have exceedingly high THC tolerance.
Cannabis extracts suit a fast-paced pothead lifestyle, and portable vaporizers have made dabbing much more convenient. Before vaporizers, potheads had to make a specially designed bong equipped with a titanium nail or swing.
Now that they have better gear to inhale it, weedy Walter Whites are learning how to make the solvent-based extract by watching YouTube videos. So the chances of buying budder that hasn't been purged properly is increasing dramatically.
How the adulterants are purged is what differentiates a fantastic extract from butane-laced gunk. Even the kind of butane is important, and in-the-know cannabis chemists insist on the Colibri brand.
The process begins by packing cannabis into a glass tube with a filter on one end, into which butane is quickly poured (or "punched"). The THC is stripped from the plant into the solvent, which drips through the filter onto a plate or bowl.
Purging involves boiling off the butane on a hotplate, but that's not the only fire hazard. Everything about making budder is dangerous, and I've met experienced people who've had terrible accidents.
Never make it inside. Never light a joint or have anything nearby that can spark, including pilot lights. When in doubt, don't make it.
Failing to heed precautions will result in blowing yourself up real good, and home explosion horror stories are cropping up more frequently leaving people in burn units for weeks on end.
This is one pot product that shouldn't be fucked with.
Possession of cannabis extracts also carries prison penalties similar to those faced by growers.
The grower in me doesn't understand why someone would want to take a beautiful bud and assault it with butane. I want to be clear that I do not recommend this method but I don't complain when someone offers me a dab.
Matt Mernagh is a long-time medical marijuana activist and author of Marijuana Smoker's Guidebook (GreenCandyPress.com).