Cannabis Corner: Professional Insight Into Colorado’s Marijuana Industry

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Q: Hey Dr. R: All of my friends have been telling me about this new form of smoking marijuana and referring to it as a “dab”. What are the heck are they talking about?

A: Dear Mr. Bob Dabalina: A “dab” can take on a couple of forms known as wax and shatter. The most common form of what your friends are talking about is butane hash oil or BHO. BHO is a concentrated cannabis extract formed by using liquid butane to remove essential oils from the plant material. Since butane is a nonpolar chemical solvent, we can remove trichome head glands and cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. In a quick process, liquid butane dissolves the trichome head and cannabinoids which are coated with a nonpolar wax. The butane or other solvent is then evaporated away through various processes leaving the pure cannabis extract. What we are left with is a concentrated form of marijuana with an amber or “honey” appearance. This can be smoked as a process commonly referred to as “dabbing.”

Q: Yo Dr. RMJ, is BHO safe? My friend down the street has been making it for a while now and he sells it so why should I buy it from a state regulated facility?

A: Dear Concerned in Fort Collins: Concentrated forms of the cannabis plant are completely safe to consume if purchased from a state regulated facility. Every batch of concentrates is tested by a state accredited testing facility to ensure the product is clean and free of any contaminates. The state will not allow anything to contain over 50 parts per million of butane in your final product. It can, however, be extremely dangerous and it is illegal to process hash oil without state licensing. Buying BHO or any other form of extract from anyone other than a state licensed facility leaves one vulnerable to harmful contaminants and carcinogens. With no regulation process, many of these home hashmakers are leaving dangerous amounts of solvent in their final product. The other problem that we have seen is that many of these people are using canned lighter fluid in their process that is not meant for human consumption. A state licensed facility would be using lab grade gases that have been distilled multiple times to remove any heavy metals or impurities. The product is ran through a state approved closed looped system that is a much safer means of extraction. Any remaining
butane is purged out with heat and vacuum pressure. It is then tested by the state before it can be deemed usable by the consumer. Eliminating the need for “garage hash” and supporting state accredited facilities will decrease expositions, deaths, fires, and serious bodily injury in our neighborhoods and cities.

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