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Marijuana Dabbing Use Signs and Symptoms – What Are They?

signs of dabbing weed

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The simplest explanation of dabs includes various forms of quality hash, which go through a unique preparation process involving butane gas. Dabbing refers to a method of marijuana consumption where highly concentrated cannabis is heated. It leads to vaporization of oil which users then inhale to get a “high.” Dab is not a chemically modified plant; the only difference between typical marijuana and Dab is the concentration of THC.
THC is a chemical which induces the majority of marijuana-related effects. While an average cannabis joint contains about 15% of THC, the THC amount during Dabbing reaches 70-95% per dab, according to marijuana statistics. Such a high amount of this hallucinogenic substance causes immediate and overwhelming effects.

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Table of Contents

How Dabbing Affects The Body

Marijuana dabbing has become very popular in recent years. Some of its effects are not entirely understood, and doctors have just begun to compare the effects of typical marijuana to marijuana dabbing. The only fact most experts agree on is that marijuana by definition has adverse effects on a developing brain. This data is especially alarming since marijuana is widely spread among teenagers and young adults.

How to Tell That Someone is Dabbing

“Dabbing is to marijuana, as crack is to cocaine.” This sentence is used for explaining the dangers of dabbing and the importance of intervention as soon as one suspects someone they love has a problem. Unfortunately, users have developed some new ways of dabbing, like vape pens, which make it hard to see or smell. Pay attention and try to spot the following:
Marijuana Dabbing

  • If a person finds unfamiliar e-cigarettes among the beloved one’s stuff, be aware of the possibility they are using it for vaporizing marijuana. These e-cigarettes may be altered vape pens primarily meant for tobacco, so it is hard to detect marijuana use.
  • Glass water pipe or marijuana blunt.
  • Hollow metal rod called a “nail” (the nail is heated, and the dab is placed on the hot surface)
  • Changes in behavior consistent with typical marijuana users, but intensified throughout the whole day (disorientation, sleepiness, unusual talkativeness, bloodshot eyes).
  • Increased use of perfumes or cologne to hide the marijuana smell.
  • Increased use of chewing gums, breath mints, and eye drops.
  • Increased interest in cannabis and different names for marijuana, talking about it and collecting stoner movies (with marijuana smoking characters).
  • Marijuana inspired clothing.[/su_list]

Signs and Symptoms of Marijuana Dabbing Use

Someone who practices marijuana dabbing may show the following signs and symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Poor decision making
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Lack of coordination
  • Forgetfulness
  • Hallucinations
  • Bad mood
  • Nervousness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Increased heart rate
  • Failing to complete daily responsibilities
  • Social withdrawal

Long-Term Effects of Marijuana Dabbing Use?

Marijuana dabbing can have grave consequences on one’s body and mind. Some of the long-term dabbing marijuana side effects include:

  • Depression and isolation
  • Permanent paranoia and anxiety
  • Cardiac problems – irregular heartbeat
  • Blackouts
  • Psychosis
  • Paranoia
  • Hallucinations
  • Brain damage which and decreased intellectual properties

Although the connection between marijuana and cancer is still to be researched, it is clear that dabs contain larger amount of carcinogens and toxins than the regular joint.

Dangers Associated with Marijuana Dabbing

  • Marijuana extracts may be precarious to make since highly flammable butane gas is used during the preparation process. (Home chemistry is dangerous!) Numerous cases reported that entire houses have blown up, or someone got hurt.
  • Marijuana dabbing may lead to cases of overdose which include nausea, vomiting, and blackouts.
  • Marijuana dabbing can cause tolerance and develop an addiction.
  • Marijuana dabbing withdrawal symptoms are very severe.

What’s Next?

Emergency rooms have seen a great increase in marijuana dabbing related problems. This type of marijuana use has become a dire predicament.
If a person knows or suspects someone they know is using marijuana, be sure to stage an intervention for drug addiction treatment and help him/her face the problem and the possible adverse outcomes. Choose the rehab for substance abuse to prevent the dire consequences of dabbing.
Since marijuana dabbing may cause addiction, medical treatment is advised. After detox, group therapies and support groups can help a former addict lead a healthy, drug-free life.

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  1. Saeed K Alzghari, Victor Fung, Shannon S Rickner, Liza Chacko, Steven W Fleming. To Dab or Not to Dab: Rising Concerns Regarding the Toxicity of Cannabis Concentrates. Cureus. 2017.
  2. Raber JC, Elzinga S, Kaplan C. Understanding dabs: contamination concerns of cannabis concentrates and cannabinoid transfer during the act of dabbing. J Toxicol Sci. 2015;40:797–803.
Medically Reviewed By Michael Espelin APRN

About Author

Peter J. Grinspoon, MD

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is an experienced physician with long-term clinical practice experience. As a former analgesic addict, Dr. Grinspoon knows precisely how important it is to provide patients with effective treatment and support. Medical writing for him is the way to communicate with people and inform them about their health.


Leave a comment

  • desiree j jefferson
    I have discovered that my son is dabbing. I believe intervention is necessary. I have no idea where to begin. Please help me with the next step. He has been using marijuana since he was 12 I believe from what he has told us, we have been trying to manage through punishment and restrictions of freedom, in addition to constant contact with other parents of his friends. His behavior has become withdrawn, moody, no emotion, does not care to have a relationship with his family, sleeps a lot etc.
    • Deborah McPeek
      Have you found any help? I suspect my son, who is now 24, has been doing it for several years. I want to help him, but I don’t know how. He becomes angry when I try to talk about getting help. I need help too…..please
      • Kristie ingland
        I am a mother of an addict he is 20. As a recovering alcoholic myself, 4 yrs, there isn’t alot we can do with out kids. I have loved my son, punished my son. Kicked my son out, bought him everything nothing helped. The key is for you to get to Al-Anon. And take care of you, for your sanity. I finally had to for me. God will take care of the rest I pray you find some peace. This is soooo hard.
  • Daniel
    I am 17 years old and I quit using dab pens and weed for a almost a month now. How do I get my brain working again? Please help
  • John Smith
    Alright, I’m 16 and my friends have dab pens. I don’t care to buy a pen because knowing myself I would develop an addiction. I don’t get high with them if we’re just hanging out for a typical afternoon. However, I do get high with them for when we have sleepovers (hahahahaha! We still have sleep overs at 16 what a bunch of losers) which typically occur every 1 month. So if I get high only 12 times a year or so will that affect my brain and health in the future? If so I’m definitely stopping I’m very health conscious.
  • Jayreal
    Lies lies lies . Marijuana is still a drug. If you have big dreams of being a CEO, president of a company, or anything above. Please quit . If you wanna have an average life and be an employee keep medicating. I don’t blame you. I smoked for 15 years and I have the power to be honest with myself and new consumers. Hope this helps someone in this new world.
  • Ty G
    My boyfriend and I have been together for three years. We also have a child. Every since I met my boyfriend he has been waxing. He seems to have no control or will power to quit. In the first year of us dating, I had to get on him numerous of times about doing it around our infant at the time while I was in class and he was babysitting our son. He becomes highly irritable if he doesn’t have it. His parents never took the wheel to get him help in his early stages of being on it. Every time I try to talk to him about it, he becomes angry and tries to convince me how “safe” it is among other drugs. He’s a loving person and that’s why I’m still with him but I see how it affects him everyday. His neglectfulness to other’s including my feelings when he hasn’t had it or is using it. It’s hard because his “best friend” is the guy who sells him the wax. I want to be a family with him and marry him but his addiction really is taking a tole on our relationship and himself and it’s like he doesn’t even see it. I don’t know what to do. I know it’ll be a hard process because he’s been dabbing for YEARS but I want to help him.
  • Gwen
    My son is on suboxone after years of pills and then on to heroin. He is now dabbing and I’m so disappointed and scared as to what’s next. I’m also worried about his two small children and will he be around to watch them grow up.
  • 4 sons mom
    My 15 yr old son almost died last night due to hitting a maxed out dab pen offered to him by a group of 18 yr olds. 99% thc and he overdosed He became instantly sick, blacked out and collapsed, rush to er in ambulance, lost all consciousness for over 10 hours, lost all color…scariest thing i have ever experienced as a mother. Er confirmed there were no opiods, and they believe this was purely thc overdose, and they have had several other similar instances where it took hours even days for kids to regain consciousness. these dab pens are way more dangerous than weed, and kids need to be warned of the dangers.
  • J
    My son was pressured into dabbing and he is only 14. He got sick twice and has vertigo going on over 24 hours now. Not sure what I can do for him?
  • Annoyed
    So I took one small hit of a dab pen mind u I dont somke pot cause I need my job but anyways after that I got dizzy something like virtigo then it went to foot drop so I had to high step my left leg so my foot didnt drag my left arm was uncoordinated I looked like I had a stroke on the left side. It was like this for 3 month I hit the dab pen in june of 2019 about maybe a week or 4 days after hitting the dab pen is when my problems started. So I am not sure if it was the dab pen that caused it or if something else was at play. I have seen my family dr and neroligest and still dont know what happen but I never thought about the dab pen till now to tell them so I am kinda course to know if the dab pen did this cause if so I will never hit one again it took me from work and firefighting for 3 month and still as nov 2019 still have minor issues with dizziness. So if some one could answer this that reputable it will b greatly appreciated it is driving me insane not have answers of what caused this
  • Ryan Bales
    Hey Peter. I need help. I am stuck with one of my children heavy into cannabis use and I believe he is also dabbing. We have spent the last year trying to get him back into society but he is spinning out of control. His story is very complex And involved. I found several jars of cannabis and some dabbing oil. At least I think that’s what it looks like. But it has a minty smell not the traditional smell of weed. I also found a sploof. Have u heard or know of dabbing oil being mixed with a minty wax to mask the smell? Thanks for your time