Extracting the History of Dabs

Written by BlackbirdGo January 9, 2019
The Plant

The history of cannabis is a long and complicated story, and the story of the cannabis extraction—butane hash oil (BHO)—is no different. While these are most commonly known as dabs, they haven’t always been as wildly popular as they are today. Just like the high you get from consuming it, the historical background of dabbing is a little hazy. But we might just be getting ahead of ourselves.

What’s in a Name

The term “dab”—easily the softest of the names it takes on—probably comes from the most popular consumption method of this form of cannabis in which you dab the concentrate onto a red-hot nail of a glass pipe that instantly vaporizes it to be inhaled. The list of other less-friendly names and variations these concentrates take on runs pretty long, including terms like shatter, budder, honey, weed oil (mostly for concerned parents who just learned about this through their morning news segments), and crumble.

While the concept of dabbing seems pretty new to mainstream cannabis, the concept of taking medicinal herbs and concentrating them down to become more potent and effective has been around for centuries. But hash oil wasn’t really recognized or used until the early twentieth century, despite the bad rep the government had already established for cannabis.

Hazy in History

The history of dabs seems to be pretty murky, mostly coming from anecdotal accounts shared throughout the last few decades. The first real use of them can be traced back to World War II, when it was used as an interrogation method for prisoners of war as a “truth serum” by a man named George White. After the war, he continued to use these techniques, even under scrutiny, in a CIA program known as MK Ultra (sound familiar, anyone?).

Dabs began to be recognized as the 1970s approached and drug experimentation was on the rise, and, even then, it was still pretty underground. Throughout the decade, a couple of books were published describing the extraction process that resulted in thick, dark concentrates. These were some of the earliest published works that recognized the birth of modern hash oil.

Through the next couple of decades, these concentrated oils remained relatively unknown. However, in 1999, Erowid published an article that described an extremely dangerous extraction process called “open blasting” that uses butane over an open flame for extracting BHO.

Fast forward to 2003 when a man, who went by the name “Budderking” (yes, really), claimed he created a powerful yet safe concentrated extract of cannabis that he, of course, named “budder.” Once his product debuted at Da Kine dispensary in Vancouver, he followed up with the creation of the dab rig, a product made to make the consumption of the vapors that much easier. This was the first step to creating the steep demand in dabbing products that eventually spread to Colorado and California.

However, the dangerous extraction method began causing issues across the nation as many tried to create their own forms of dabs. An appeals court eventually labeled extraction by butane illegal under a law originally intended for meth and PCP labs, threatening jail time to anyone who gets caught attempting it. But, because the popularity of BHO use was on the rise, safer extraction and concentration methods were under experimentation, with the most successful being the closed-loop system.

Hot in the Mainstream

In 2009, dabs started to become more normalized in the industry. Cannabis users began spreading the word across the internet about high-quality hash oils, and dabs ended up in the oh-so-famous High Times Cannabis Cup competitions in 2010, fueling the fire for dispensaries across the nation to pick up on the early craze of budders and waxes.

As most cannabis-related news and innovations do, dabs gained popularity virtually overnight. Since then, dabs have taken the industry by storm, growing exponentially in popularity, with plenty of well-established companies working to bring the highest quality products to recreational cannabis users. Field Extract (also known as F/ELD), just completed raising funds of $6 million to expand their company across the country and to distribute their “ultra-premium” product line, including several of their award-winning dab products.

While it hasn’t always been the case, these extractions have become increasingly pure and safer to create, and methods of consumption have impressively evolved. Whether it’s by the simple nail-and-dome method or the high-tech electronic nails, you’re sure to get a huge high.

Disclaimer: Keep out of reach of children. For use only by adults 21 years of age and older.