Frequently asked questions about dabbing concentrates in online cannabis community discussion forums

Int J Drug Policy. 2019 Dec;74:11-17. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2019.07.036. Epub 2019 Aug 7.


Background: "Dabbing" involves vaporizing a "dab" of cannabis concentrate on a heated "nail," passing the vapour through a water-pipe rig or portable pen device, and inhaling the vapour. While some cannabis industry media claims that this process is cleaner, safer, and more effective for getting high, medical and public health sources raise concerns about residual solvents and pesticides, unexpectedly intense effects, and rapid increases in tolerance. The aim of this study is to characterize the content of questions about dabbing posed in cannabis and dabbing-specific forums on the Reddit social media platform, as well as comment responses to these questions.

Methods: We conducted a content analysis of one year (2017) of information-seeking user-generated posts to three Reddit online cannabis community discussion forums ("subreddits") that contained the terms "dab" and "question." We also examined post engagement and the types and sentiment of information exchanged in the comment responses.

Results: Across 193 dabbing question posts, the most frequently asked question content was about types and logistical use of devices and related equipment (38%) and comparisons of cannabis products (32%), followed by questions about the step-by-step process of getting high (18%), legal issues (17%), and health concerns (13%). Nearly every post had a response (98%), with a median 5 comments per post and few negative (i.e. hostile, condescending, or trolling) comments (4%). Source of advice or information was stated in about a quarter (26%) of comment responses, with the overwhelming majority of this information (89%) coming from disclosures of personal experience vs. web or commercial sources.

Conclusion: People seeking advice online about dabbing inquired most often about logistics of use, but less often about health, tolerance, and legal risks. These findings may be used to inform public health efforts and health practitioner education as cannabis becomes increasingly legal and accessible.

Keywords: Cannabis; Cannabis concentrates; Dabbing; Online communities; THC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Information Seeking Behavior*
  • Internet
  • Marijuana Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Social Media