Extreme Marijuana–Dabbing and Vaping Dangers

Part 2 of 2

Parents beware, the marijuana culture is promoting extreme highs that can get your kids hurt. Vaping and dabbing are new ways to get high that are extremely sudden, dangerous and eliminate the telltale odor, making marijuana use harder to detect.

Drugs like marijuana are addictive and once a teen gets swept up into the drug subculture, over-use and abuse of drugs is likely. The search for the next big ‘high’ and the impaired judgment caused by drug use is leading some teens to go too far.

Check out this TV News Story about this issue.

Marijuana Becomes Extreme ‘Sport’

Several “weed blogs” and numerous online videos promote the popularity of dabbing.

Dabbing is inhaling the potent vapors from concentrated marijuana oil which is up to 80% THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana. In comparison, a pot cigarette contains up to 18% THC. The intense high from concentrated pot oil can literally knock you unconscious. According to an account of a NORML event in California, one person nearly cracked their skull on the sidewalk and another experienced marijuana smoker broke her two front teeth when she passed out cold after ‘dabbing’.

Honey Oil, photo from the Humboldt Sentinel
Honey Oil, photo from the Humboldt Sentinel

Another grave danger lies in the process of making homemade concentrated ‘hash’ oil. Concentrated marijuana oil is also known as Butane Hash Oil (BHO). It is made by firing up the marijuana plant material with butane, a highly flammable and toxic solvent. This intense burn releases the THC and other compounds out of the plant and concentrates them. The butane then needs to be removed by further heating the concentrate. Adding heat to a highly flammable substance is dangerous business. Any remaining butane becomes a gas at room temperature and easily ignites, even with a small spark of static electricity.

Home Chemistry is Explosive

There have been 31 butane hash oil home explosions in Colorado just during the first 9 months of 2014. California has had an even higher number; numerous have happened on Oregon and Washington, too.  Amateur oil makers are now burn victims and properties were destroyed and neighbors put at risk of harm. See PopPot’s recent article, Hash Oil Explosions Rise this Year.

This more potent form of marijuana, BHO, can be added to food.  Or it is smoked in a variety of ways.  Hash oil bong (called an oil rig) or e-cigarette vaporizer (a technique called vaping) are among the two most popular devices used to smoke BHO.

In dabbing a tiny piece of potent hash oil is put into a small compartment of pipe, vaporizer of pen. Photo: Oregonlive
In dabbing a tiny piece of potent hash oil is put into a small compartment of pipe, vaporizer of pen. Photo: Oregonlive

  The Hidden High

Unlike smoking marijuana, which gives off a noticeable, pungent odor, vaping hash oil is odorless and discrete and can go unnoticed. This means that like an e-cigarette smoker, a marijuana smoker can ‘vape’ in public places, work or even school without fear of consequences or reprisal. This makes vaping marijuana concentrate very appealing to addicts. It means those most likely to abuse the drug and become dependent on it can become more reckless about the use of the drug, thereby risking an overdose, and posing a danger to others.

Even pot culture observers are warning about the risks of vaping and dabbing.  Vaping is growing in popularity, because it allows legal marijuana to be smoked in illegal places, such as ball games, malls, theatres, schools. There is also the risk of not getting all the butane out of the finished product. According to Mother Jones magazine, “When BHO is improperly made, it can be tainted with toxins.”

A hash oil lab that was raided by police in Glendale, CA. Photo: Glendale Police.
A hash oil lab that was raided by police in Glendale, CA. Photo: Glendale Police.

The two main arguments in favor of legalizing marijuana are: 1) that it is not harmful and 2) that it is impossible to overdose.  With dabbing and vaping, we know differently.

For more on this topic read the San Francisco Weekly article, Thanks to “Dabbing,” It Is Possible to Overdose on Marijuana.

See Part 1 What is Dabbing, and Why Should Parents Worry

Downloadable Fact Sheet

Get the Parents Opposed to Pot Hash Oil Facts! Download our new flyer, which describes the hash oil explosions in states which have permissive marijuana laws: POPPOT-Hash Oil Statistics.

What is “Dabbing” and Why Parents Need to Worry

Part 1 of 2 (Part 2: Extreme Marijuana–Dabbing and Vaping)

“Dabbing” is a way to get the quickest, long-lasting high with a single inhale.  In fact, a single puff from a pipe or vaping pen can give the effect of smoking many joints.  Unfortunately for parents, the new vaping pens make it extremely difficult to see, smell or detect.

“Dabbing is to marijuana, as crack is to cocaine,” is a way it’s been explained.   No one should ever try it, because the psychosis can be immediate, and, as a habit, it is nearly impossible to get unhooked.

Why, should parents worry?  Because the pens go undetected and, secondly, because children are getting into pot at younger ages. Wheat Ridge, Colorado,  is the site of Three Kings Dab Supply, a club where users bring their own dabs and party.  According to a mom in Wheat Ridge,  “Since legalization, marijuana has become a problem in the middle schools and has shown up in the elementary schools twice.”

Marijuana users suggest that kids use dabs, precisely because it can go undetected.  Dabbing is actually more popular with the young users than with middle-aged adults, who often find it too strong.

How Dabs are Made

Dabbers take a tiny bit of butane hash oil, BHO  — hardened or buttery, and quickly light it up in a small compartment.  BHO is to marijuana, as crack is to cocaine.

Users have extracted the THC (the component in the marijuana plant that causes a high) from the plant to get maximum strength, usually using butane gas in some type of glass tube.    When it first comes out it is an oil, but the oil becomes waxy or buttery before hardening into the bits.  Hardened, it can be broken into tiny bits and give a high that last all day.

Butane has oil, a highly potent distillation of marijuana, is so potent that a single hit can last more than a day. (Photo: ABC News)
Butane has oil, a highly potent distillation of marijuana, is so potent that a single hit can last more than a day. (Photo: ABC News)  Photo above: Humboldt Sentinel

There are many nicknames for butane hash oil: “Wax,” “Honey oil,” “earwax,” “dabs” “shatter” and more.   It could be smoked, vaped or infused into the edibles.   Vaping is a concern, since the vape pens,  meant for tobacco, are adapted to be used with concentrates or dabs of marijuana.  It is  a way that teens may be using marijuana without detection.

Dabbing is Growing in Popularity Especially Among Teens

In short, hash oil offers a quick and lasting high for users.   A single hit can last more than a day.   By making it, it costs a user about 50% less than it would by buying it from a licensed dispensary or maker.

One may think that experienced, middle-aged users would be most likely to dab.  On the contrary, it is often the teens who go for the quick high, as well as the ease of use.

Dabbing packs such a wallop, it has been known to cause blackouts. Even  insiders warn that injury and death are possible.

Police in California would like to see marijuana concentrates banned.

See part 2 of this article, Extreme Marijuana-Dangers of Dabbing and Vaping.

 

Wheat Ridge Pushes Back Against Marijuana Grow

(Above, 420 party in Denver, 2013, AP photo/Brennan Linsley. This is the 4th in a series on Retail pot battles.) In Colorado where marijuana is legal for both recreational and medical use — a result of the vote two years ago — communities are fighting to push back against the pot businesses.  As Coloradans try to gain control of their neighborhoods from an invasive marijuana industry, voters in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, DC — where legalizing marijuana is on the ballot now — have a chance to learn a lesson.

A decision to legalize marijuana should not be taken lightly.   A decision to allow medical marijuana, as in Florida and Guam at the moment, is often an open door to the quasi-legalization of pot.

Battles are heated in Jefferson County, just west of Denver.  The city of Lakewood is currently voting on 2A, a ballot to ban marijuana.   Already Denver has more marijuana shops than Starbucks.

In the city of Wheat Ridge, just north of Lakewood and to the west of Denver, the community is standing together to keep pot out of their neighborhoods.  Residents may attend a city council meeting of Monday, October 27, and speak out about the proposed 10,000-square-foot marijuana grow, and about overall concerns regarding retail marijuana.

CentralColoradodispensaries map, shows where it is banned.
Colorado dispensaries map, shows where it is banned. Chart: Project SAM

The community is demanding a say in the creation of a 10,000- square-foot grow house and dispensary. The public is also calling to end to activities of a local head shop, Three Kings Dab Supply.

“Wheat Ridge jumped the gun with bringing in recreational marijuana. They didn’t look at the big picture,” says Jennifer Shepherd.   She added, “I, the mother of 2 young boys, have a recreational and medical dispensary next to our neighborhood playground.”  At this time there are five dispensaries or retail stores  in the city.

The city council voted to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana October of last year. District 1 Councilman Bud Starker, who voted to legalize recreational pot, says the people of Colorado did approve Amendment 64. “I think the (city) legislation that was introduced seems to balance the two interests — the will of the people and safeguarding the public,” Starker said.

There’s been a shocking trend of municipal ruling bodies who shut out public input into decisions regarding marijuana businesses throughout Colorado communities. Are they over-anxious and greedy for tax revenue? Many Coloradans didn’t realize their vote on Amendment 64 would be interpreted as a vote for recreational shops in their towns.

Jennifer Yates, a member of Parents for a Healthy Colorado, says, “There was rumor of a proposed 10,000-square-foot store, grow and MIPS (Marijuana-Infused Products) operation to be built 300 feet from my house. This site is in the walking path of a middle school.”

“Our city council and officials kept saying there is no application for this site, but I found a pre-application [after searching for the address]. I presented it to council Monday night and they finally admitted that this information is correct. It’s just frustrating that our elected leaders seemed to be dodging and dismissing what was really about to happen on that property.”   It turns out the proposed site will not be for a MIP.

Is the Money for Education?

Hundreds of Wheat Ridge community members joined together, rallying and appearing at the City Council meeting, filling overflow rooms and hallways, on September 22, 2014.

Wheat Ridge city council meeting, September 22.  Photo, courtesy of Healthy Colorado Kids.
Wheat Ridge city council meeting, September 22. Photo: Parents for a Healthy Colorado.

Pro-marijuana supporters stress that revenue taxes will go towards education.

“As far as taxes go, as an educator I don’t want drug money,” said former Lakewood High School Principal Ron Castagna. “It’s not worth it; I’ve watched kids die over this stuff.” The parents and educators of Wheat Ridge seem to think that banning the dispensaries, as many called their city council to do, would be a far greater advantage to their children.

Three Kings Dab Supply

A head shop in Wheat Ridge, Three Kings Dab Supply, is also a recent topic of controversy in the neighborhood. The shop sells bongs, pipes, and other smoking devices, as well as offers space to glassblowers to practice their craft. It promotes a space in which pot smokers can come and “bring your own dab.”

Three Kings Dab Supply in Wheat Ridge, CO, is where people bring their own "dabs."  Photo: News Channel 9
Three Kings Dab Supply in Wheat Ridge, CO, is advertised as a place where clubbers bring their own “dabs.”         Photo: News Channel 9

Complaints began when a neighbor who shares the driveway with Three Kings’ parking lot became frustrated with the amount of cars in the parking lot. Jennifer Yates, who drives past the supply shop several times a week to take her daughter to gymnastics, commented on Three Kings Dab Supply, “I noticed that most times there are only 2-4 cars in the lot, but on Friday nights, there were 15-20 cars.”

It will continue to be an on-going concern, because those who go to the club can party on the property, in a backyard, where noise and smoke can invade the neighborhood.  While the business does not distribute marijuana and may seem a lovely artistic gathering place, it is a concern for parents and their children.

Oregon: Debate Shows Flaws in Measure 91

Measure 91 would tax and regulate marijuana in Oregon.   A problem — acknowledged by both No on 91 and Yes on 91 in last’s night “Great Pot Debate” at Portland State University — is that the measure doesn’t allow cities to tax.  To test the  theory that a “weed” can be taxed and regulated, those who crafted 91 wanted taxes to be lower than in Washington and in Oregon.

Problems with the marijuana edibles in Colorado were discussed. Today Dr. Ron Schwerzler admitted he was wrong about 5 children dying from the edibles.  He may have confused facts about the edibles with three toddlers who died from neglect while parents smoked weed.  Added to the two adults who died, there are 5 non-traffic fatalities in Colorado caused directly or indirectly by marijuana. (So far 13 children have been hospitalized for ingesting edibles, 7 of them in IC Units.)   Dr. Schwertzler was correct, however, in asserting that you don’t treat one addiction with another addictive substance.

No one who was debating had the faintest idea how edibles would be regulated in Oregon.    The debate was live streamed October 21 and will repeat on  KATU TV station, Sunday, October 26, 9 a.m.

Measure 91 could set up turf battles between cities and the state over the right to tax.  In last night’s debate, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, suggested that it’s not the people, state, or the cities who would benefit, but lawyers who would fight for all sides.   Marquis sounded critical of the state’s aversion to a sales tax. Oregon has no sales tax and Washington, home of Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, doesn’t have a state income tax.  So instead of looking for easy solutions to raise revenues, both states have posed the idea of legalizing marijuana and using the tax for drug prevention education and other services.  Thus far, marijuana businesses have resisted regulations in Colorado.

Joshua Marquis
Photo of Clatsop County DA,  Joshua “Josh” Marquis                   Photo: Courtesy of Doug Crouch Photography.

Oregon’s law would allow individual possession of marijuana that is much more than either Colorado or Washington.

Oregon decriminalized marijuana in 1973.  There are about 2,000 + arrests per year for marijuana, but only 70 or so  currently in jail for marijuana violations alone.  Marquis pointed out that the crimes they committed, such as distributing or selling to children,  would still be illegal if Measure 91 passes.

Portland Pre-empts Marijuana Taxes

Last Wednesday Portland city council voted to for a 10% sales tax on recreational marijuana — to be applied if Amendment 91 passes. Votes are counted on November 4.   This action highlights one of the many flaws in Measure 91, which prohibits cities from taxing pot.  Cities like Portland would like a slice of the marijuana pie, since they will need a lot of money to regulate the industry.

Many cities — Hillsboro, Beaverton, Forest Grove– have passed a tax on marijuana, or are considering the action,  in advance of November 4.   Although Measure 91 gives the state  sole authority to tax marijuana, attorneys for some Oregon cities argue that municipal pot taxes will be grandfathered if passed before the election.  Supporters of Measure 91 argue otherwise.

 

Photo on top is DA Joshua "Josh" Marquis of Clatsop County. Photo: Courtesy of Doug Crouch Photography.  Oregon is known for hiking, biking, Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls. Why change.  P
Oregon is known for hiking, biking, Mt. Hood and Multnomah Falls. Why change ?

A few local leaders think the pre-emptive taxes are a way to justify the marijuana businesses in cities without residents’ approval.   If this happens, Oregon will have the same political battles that have plagued Colorado and Washington.

While Oregon is counting on enacting a lower rate than Colorado and  Washington, estimates vary as to how much money can be collected.  A Portland firm, hired by the sponsors of Measure 91, estimated first-year taxes for the state to be 38.5 million.  A committee made up of state  economists estimated the figure to be about $9.3 million the first year.

Supporters of recreational marijuana propose that by creating a commercialized industry, marijuana can be taxed and regulated.  When governments introduce vice to raise revenues, they risk doing harm to significant numbers of the population.

Back to the Debate

In questions after the debate, supporters of Measure 91 objected to being “criminals,” as they consider themselves under current law, despite the fact Oregon decriminalized marijuana in 1973.  Inge Fryklund, a former prosecutor, argued that legalizing pot can keep marijuana away from children through regulation.  Her debate partner for Yes on 91 was Richard Harris.

No one discussed the possibility of an increase in explosions caused by hash oil extraction, already a problem in Oregon.  This problem increased threefold in Colorado by May of this year.

During the debate,  the idea that legalizing and regulating pot could take profits away from cartels and put them out of business was mentioned.   However, a Washington Post article earlier this year traced the business of cartels leaving Colorado to Central America, where they have introduced poppy cultivation.  There was general acknowledgement that Washington and Colorado still have black markets.   Why does Oregon think it could be different?

(Here’s our first story about Oregon’s Measure 91.)