Medical cannabis learning event, Omni device take the scary out of dabbing

Photo courtesy Pixabay

I went to my first “learning event” tonight since becoming an Illinois Medical Cannabis Registered Qualifying Patient. It was held at Stern Beverage in Milan, next door to Nature’s Treatment of Illinois. About 60 people attended.

I hesitated a bit about writing this blog, but then I figured I really need to. People have so many misconceptions about cannabis. Some glorify it to the extreme. Some belittle it to the extreme. The truth about cannabis is somewhere in between and there is no one size fits all for anyone. I always say the same thing about sobriety.

The topic of the Learning Event tonight? Concentrates.

As in “dabbing,” among other things.

I was intrigued by the topic because a story I wrote about “dabbing” is what catapulted me into writing about addiction and recovery, which is largely how I pay my bills these days.

In the Healthline News dabbing story, which you can read by clicking here, Kevin Winslow, former director of the Quad-City Metropolitan Enforcement Group, told me “It’s all going to go eventually into the wrong hands. Sick people are not smoking dabs.”

He was referring to the Illinois Medical Cannabis pilot program, of which I am now a part, and which permits the learning events sponsored by the dispensaries.

But more importantly, Winslow warned of what happens to people who try to make their own dabs – their houses can erupt in flames. When I wrote that piece well over two years ago, the mainstream news media had not yet begun to write about dabs.

And that is why the speaker tonight, founder Zach Marburger, stressed that no one should EVER try to make their own dabs at home.

“It’s a modern-day meth lab,” he said. “It will blow your house up, and the product won’t be that good.”

Marburger said he began smoking marijuana after being “hopped up” for many years on ADHD medication. You would never guess Marburger has ADHD today. Certainly not a “stoner” either.

Maybe he’s like me. I told my therapist the other day you can see how people who have a baseline speed of a million miles per hour can benefit from cannabis.

Why ‘dabbing’ is so controversial

Concentrates are controversial because of how CBD and THC are extracted from the plant. One process is by using solvents such as butane hash oil. This is not only why houses explode (concentrates purchased legally at dispensaries are made in safe, controlled laboratories), but many have argued the residue from the butane should disqualify dabs from medical cannabis programs.

But Marburger explained Illinois, which has what is considered the strictest medical cannabis program in the country, does not allow more than 10 parts per million of solvent residuals in the final concentrate product. This is in stark contrast to Colorado, which allows 8,000 parts per million, Marburger explained.

Marburger, by the way, is from the Midwest originally but now lives in Denver. He has founded a second company called Cannabis Technology Association, which advocates for the use of data in the emerging cannabis industry.

Illinois’ medical cannabis program is nothing like Colorado’s, he said, saying in Colorado the program essentially amounts to a discount card for the same cannabis everyone else can buy.

That cannabis is not strictly regulated like that grown in Illinois. You can check out my interview with scientist Andy LaFrate, the owner of a Colorado marijuana testing laboratory, by clicking here.

I know that even medical cannabis is controversial and maybe some people aren’t thrilled I’m writing about it. But I got into journalism to educate and, more importantly, to challenge misinformation or apathy when I see it.

As for me, tonight I bought a device called an Omni. It has three attachments. One is for smoking “dabs” or “budder” or “shatter” or whatever you want to call it.

Another is for vaporizing “flower,” or “bud.” This is nice because the pungent odor is greatly reduced, as is the mess. You just tap out the ashes (not really ashes, but a residue…vaporizing breaks down the carbon differently) with a little clicker button.

The third attachment is for oils.

Unlike dabbing via a traditional “rig,” which involves using a torch, with this thing you just dab the wax (or flower, or oil) into the chamber and smoke it like an e cigarette. It runs on a battery. No lighter needed.

Better than benzodiazepines?

I am thankful for the medical cannabis program for the very fact that I got off the benzodiazepines. I had not been myself for a very, very long time.

While the benzodiazepines the doctor prescribed after I had been stripped naked and jailed two days on no charges  made life manageable after such outrageous trauma, I had become addicted to them. I felt bad if I didn’t take them and I felt bad when I took them. That is not the case with the cannabis.

One study I ran across recently showed that elderly people are filling fewer prescriptions in states where medical cannabis is legal. Junk science? I’m not sure since I haven’t seen the entire study myself.

Anecdotally, when I go the dispensary, which is usually before noon, it’s almost exclusively elderly people. There are a lot of construction workers, too. And people who I suspect may be undergoing chemotherapy.

Everyone has very serious discussions with the medical cannabis agents, who truly are knowledgable and have not steered me wrong yet. I smile because I know people are being helped. I see it every time I go.

It’s kind of like this is our little secret. I think many people don’t dare tell their friends, and certainly not their co-workers if employed, that they have a medical cannabis card.

But I also know that cannabis can be addictive. And the more you use it, the more you need to get the desired effect. And this is the reason “dabs” and other concentrates are included in the medical cannabis program. They deliver that stronger dose.

Pot on steroids? Absolutely. Pharma calls it dosing.

That said, Lt. Winslow’s words about dabs were not lost on me. He is in law enforcement and illegal dabs is causing them problems. I respect that.

Cannabis relief, law enforcement can coexist

I happen to firmly believe in law and order, probably because I understand all too well the consequences of not having it.

It’s very encouraging that as people in my Illinois Medical Cannabis groups on Facebook share experiences with law enforcement, most of the time they are saying police are very curious but courteous about the program and are asking good questions.

If a police officer runs your license plate in Illinois, it will show that you are a medical cannabis cardholder. Naturally, people do get pulled over now and then for a heavy foot.

Finally, the outcome of my own experience dabbing. I will admit it sort of felt like smoking cannabis for the very first time. And then it wore off reasonably quickly.

If I said it wasn’t a pleasant experience I’d be lying. But I also know that dabbing sends your tolerance through the roof. In the end, it means more money out of your pocket on top of everything else.

As the speaker tonight kept saying as he offered very truthful information about concentrates, “Be cognizant of that.” He blew neither smoke nor sunshine during his presentation.

My ultimate goal with my medical cannabis card is to remain calm at all times and to sleep well through the night. So far, I’m accomplishing that with CBD edibles before bed and an occasional hit of good old-fashioned flower during the day.

I’m doing so much better. Being angry all the time and not sleeping at night – for about five consecutive years – was not fun.

Nobody likes living with PTSD and not trusting a soul, believe me. Cannabis is bringing me great peace. I am incredibly grateful to live in Illinois and to have this program.

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