There are a wide variety of cannabis extracts on the market. Extracts are usually THC or CBD extracts from the cannabis plant into either an oil, spray, topical or tincture. The options available to patients is almost overwhelming at the present time. Unfortunately, there is not enough evidence available about the side effects and about which extract is the most potent and best suited to treat a particular illness. The data is simplynot there and in many ways both patients and doctors are shooting in the dark. What is most worrying is that many medical dispensaries are providing marijuana to patients which have been shown to contain alarmingly high levels of certain toxins by independent testing facilities.
Cancerous Cannabis Oil
New research suggests that an increasingly popular method of cannabis consumption may pose more health risks when compared to the many other methods of cannabis consumption. A recently published study in the American Chemical Society’s ACS Omega found that dabbing can expose users to increased levels of toxins as compared to other methods. In a study investigating how the chemicals in concentrated cannabis break down under heat, Portland State University researchers Wentai Lu, Jiries Meehan-Atrashand Robert Strongin discovered that concentrates exposed to the high heat common in dab setups created elevated levels of carcinogenic and toxic compounds.
Benzene was the main carcinogenic found in the study and dabbing has been previously shown to be the most dangerous form of cannabis extract. The cannabis extract in question was butane hash oil. The process of making hash oil is itself dangerous as it is highly flammable and butane is explosive. In July of this year, two people in Portland, Oregon died from a butane explosion while attempting to make an extract. Along with Benzene, methacrolein (MC) a harmful irritant related to the powerful pulmonary irritant acrolein, was also found.
“The results of these studies clearly indicate that dabbing, although considered a form of vaporization, may, in fact, deliver significant amounts of [toxins]…The difficulty users find in controlling the nail temperature put users at risk of exposing themselves to not only methacrolein but also benzene.Additionally, the heavy focus on terpenes as additives seen as of late in the cannabis industry is of great concern due to the oxidative liability of these compounds when heated…This research also has significant implications for flavored e-cigarette products due to the extensive use of terpenes as flavorings.”
Of course, as always, with greater risk comes greater rewards. Butane hash oil is far cleaner and has far greater amounts of THC as compared to smoking a medical strain of marijuana obtained from a dispensary. But what happens is that the higher the heating point, the more toxins and carcinogens are released from the compound. This is why vaporization of marijuana is said to be so much healthier than combustion. The heat is too strong and many toxins get released with the THC, which has a lower release threshold than these toxins. Vaporization heats up the compound just enough to release the THC and not the toxins.
Just One Product
Unfortunately, this is just one study on one compound. With the litany of different types of extracts and strains on the market, the marijuana industry is the Wild West in terms of finding high quality products. Many are simply not aware that the majority of weed they are smoking is most likely laden with toxins. How can it not be, when it is still an illegal drug in the vast majority of states? And even medical marijuana has shown large levels of certain toxins. Unless users are getting their marijuana lab tested or are growing it themselves, there is no way to be sure that the cannabis, be it the bud, oil, topical or tincture, is what it says it is, though tinctures are possibly a little more robust at this point. The industry has quite some way to go in order to provide a regulated market with quality products. While dabbing may be a questionable procedure, at present a full extract high-quality oil using pure alcohol as an extract is the cleanest and purest method. And the best oil will have the least amount of processing and processing, coming from the full cannabis buds. THC or CBD extracts are generally quite clean where they are found, as are one to one extracts (THC and CBD work synergistically and balance each other out). The best of the best is possibly raw cannabis oil, though it is difficult to come across due to the difficulty in its creation. It is extracted without using heat and has no psychoactive effects as the THC has not been activated (THC require heat to be released). Vapor pens and isolates come a distant second to oils and other extracts as a method of marijuana ingestion. Be careful in choosing your marijuana extract and your method of ingestion. It is very important and there are a lot of questions to be answered in an understudied and underregulated industry that is marijuana.