A portion of marijuana concentrate is removed for a dab during the 2014 Cannabis Cup at the Denver Mart. (Seth McConnell, Denver Post file)

What is dabbing? A first-time consumer’s experience

Confession time: I’ve been smoking pot over half my life, but, until recently, I’d never done a dab.

It wasn’t for lack of opportunity. I hang out with a pretty wide network of cannabis enthusiasts, I’m a prescription cannabis patient, and I make a good portion of my income working around and writing about weed. I’m constantly researching trends in consumption and culture, so I’m well aware that concentrates are the preferred way a lot of people like to get their smoke on and that extraction technologies are getting better by the day.

Here’s the truth: I’ve always been mildly afraid of concentrates. OK, actually afraid. Like, sort of terrified.

For as long as I’ve been on social media, I’ve watched these woke-ass millennial stoners melt blobs of concentrate on the ends of elaborate dab rigs and smoothly exhale these impossibly thick, billowy clouds of smoke like it ain’t no thang.

I should clarify: I used to be able to hang (sort of). I learned to smoke using all the atypical biggest-hits-possible rigs one turns to when they discover and fall in love with marijuana: bongs, blunts, multi-paper joints, blades, bottle tokes (or ‘BTs,’ as they’re affectionately known on Canada’s East Coast), whatever. My friends and I made pipes out of everything (as you do when you’re a teenager and smoke on a part-time job budget). And if high-test concentrates had been a thing when I was in high school, I can guarantee I would have been gorging on Dunkaroos in my buddy’s basement between rips on a cloudy amber dab rig, instead of a MacGyver-level gas mask/gravity bong hybrid held together by duct tape and bathtub caulking. I came up in cannabis culture before concentrates hit big, and by the time I was a proper adult and realized I didn’t need to smoke like a gangster rapper to be cool (and that I didn’t really enjoy it, either), the prospect of learning a whole new way to get high seemed really, really intimidating and pointless.

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